One might not think of Hamilton Ontario as a very green city, but in that you would be wrong. The city is lush with natural surprises, and the Royal Botanical Gardens are a prime example of the wealth of habitat surrounding the city. Begun in the 1930's as a Great Depression project, the RBG is now a National Historic Site and the largest botanical garden in Canada. It is also home to a diversity of plant and animal life unique to the region,including a number of endangered species. Nick Kondrat is the RBG's Manager Of Communications." Aside from being a botanical garden,we're 2700 acres of land , 2300 of which are natural lands that include over 30 kilometers of nature trails, bird watchers and wildlife watchers, it's really a paradise for them."
The hub of the Gardens is the RBG Center, a labyrinth of green knowledge that offers a number of attractions, from flourishing indoor gardens to public programs and exhibits.Kondrat explains.
" The public programs that we have year round, be they dinosaur programs, art programs,nature lover programs, there's a number of courses that people can enroll in, we're really known for that in this region."
Spreading like a vine from the RBG Center, the gardens extend to the surrounding countryside, with a number of other sanctuaries growing around the center. There are over 1100 different species of plants flourishing in the gardens, some found nowhere else in Canada ! The sanctuaries are a key link in preserving the habitat along Lake Ontario and beyond, and extend the RBG's education from the classroom to the field.
" You can leave from RBG Center," says Kondrat " We have an Arboretum and nature center that many trails come off of from there, you can spend a whole day on our trails, seeing so many different types of wildlife tracks, deer,birds,there's just no end of things to see."
Education and the RBG go hand in hand, the knowledge imparted ensuring the future of the center and the lush land around it. The center has been educating generations for over 60 years ! " It's part of our mandate to not only embrace our environment and cultivate our gardens, we want to teach as well, and we have generations of families that have been coming to RBG, and using our education programs." Kondrat says.
The Royal Botanical Gardens are just one natural attraction in a city that's full of emerald gifts for those willing to explore. It's a well kept secret only a short trip from Western New York. Kondrat encourages WNY'ers to make that trip.
" A lot of people aren't familiar with the Hamilton-Burlington region, would think as they drive across the QE and look to their left, it's just an industrial region, but really, there's more waterfalls in this region than you'll see anywhere else,
as I mentioned we're part of the Niagara Escarpment, we've got so many natural lands around here, we're a bird watcher's paradise, a wildlife watcher's paradise,a hiker's paradise, there's so many different things to learn and do and see in this region."
To learn more about the Royal Botanical Gardens, visit their website at www.rbg.ca