I will also confess that, during all the time since I have seen you, I have not been able to put your botanical garden scheme out of my mind. I should have been glad – and I still uphold this offer – to make a design for your garden entirely free of cost to you, simply, because the problem attracts me. You see, it has been my dream, for ever since in 1910 I first worked as a gardener’s assistant in the Berlin Botanical Garden and came to know this garden intimately, to sometime get a chance to lay out a new botanical garden in the way in which I think it should be layed out. Since then I have had opportunities to see and know many botanical gardens, but I have not seen one yet that even approached my ideal.
Letter from Henry Teuscher to Brother Marie-Victorin
April 14, 1932
We’ll take a leisurely stroll through the Montréal Botanical Garden and then head back to the Plateau area for lunch, thought the mister and I. But this garden refused to be dismissed so quickly.
The dreams of Brother Marie-Victorin and Henry Teuscher, the landscape architect-horticulturalist-botanist hired to design the garden in the 1930s, have germinated into a sprawling complex of almost 200 acres of themed gardens with 10 interconnected greenhouses stuffed to capacity. Towering groves of trees testify to its 80+ years.
The mister remarked the Botanical Garden seemed like a Noah’s Ark for plants, with virtually every species represented. Turns out, there are more than 22,000 species on the grounds. During high season, more than 450 employees, including horticulturists and botanists, work in the garden. While the park is removed from downtown and admission far from inexpensive, close to 1-million visitors wander the grounds annually.
We saw only a fraction over the course of several hours, steering well clear of the Toxic Plants Garden (I’ve met poison ivy and oak on several occasions, thank you.) and deprived of touring the highly acclaimed First Nations Garden because of preparation for an upcoming exhibition. Fortunately, we were rewarded midway through with a café break – mine a fresh fig, goat cheese and pesto sandwich.
The random photos above represent only a small portion of our wanderings, and we are not what even remotely would be described as “plant people.” In fact, we have fewer than 20 pots on the balconies of our loft. Yet, the garden captivated my interest to such a large degree I actually have reserved some photos for another post or two….