The Niagara Botanical Gardens are a historic part of Niagara Falls – having covered 40 hectares (99 acres) of pristine land since 1936.
The gardens were originally established as a ‘training ground’ for apprentice gardeners and horticulturists. In the present day the gardens, as well as being a scenic tourist attraction, act as the site of the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. The college is a fully equipped educational facility and the students assist in maintaining the gardens as part of their diploma coursework.
The gardens are open all year round to the public, with access free of charge – the only charge is for parking. In the summer horse carriages take visitors on tours through the gardens at regular intervals.
As an exhibition of plant life the botanical gardens feature a wide variety of flora, arranged taxonomically and kept in meticulous condition. The rose garden is world-class with upwards of 2 400 individual roses in bloom. The large arboretum contains collections of pine, fir, elm and maple alongside many other trees and woody plants. The on-site greenhouses are state of the art displays of tropical plants – and act as incubators of plant life for other parks and gardens in the northern Niagara region. The herb garden is a particular example of a ‘micro-climate’ – the surrounding cedar trees act as climatic walls, in order to house a variety of unique and unusual herbs and medicinal flora. And rock gardens and vegetable gardens – some of which act as trial fields for the school’s students – round out the plethora of features.
Aside from the School of Horticulture and the rose garden, the main centrepiece of the gardens is the butterfly conservatory. An estimated 2 000 butterflies of around 45 different species have free reign in a tropical setting with 180 metres of pathways. The gardens surrounding the conservatory are populated with butterfly-attracting flowers.
The Niagara botanical gardens features a strong variety of flowers, plants and more arranged in a harmonious way. Listing the features and the wide scope of plants gives the illusion of a chaotic collection of trees and plants with little rhyme or reason – but the gardens have had nearly a century of care and careful crafting to bring all the various elements together into a synchronized whole.
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