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The waterfall runs into the Lower Garden area. Over the subsequent decades the Rock Garden became


synonymous with public gardens in Hamilton. Many people didn’t realize that Royal Botanical Gardens owned hundreds of acres, not just the 5.5-acre Rock Garden. In 1941, the province of Ontario established Royal Botanical Gardens as a new, not-for-profit organization separate from the city of Hamilton. As the years went by the horticultural displays within


the Rock Garden evolved as tastes changed and as the microclimate of the bowl evolved. Many of the beds were changed from alpine plantings to annual displays, and the Rock Garden became famous for its annual show featuring 60,000 tulips. In some ways, though, time wasn’t kind to the vener-


Plants add splashes of greenery amongst the rocks.


able garden. By 2013, the 1930-era irrigation system, water course and many of the limestone stairs and pathways were in serious need of renovation, and facilities like washrooms needed work. After many years of planning, the Rock Garden was closed in 2013 for its first major rejuvenation. A generous agreement between the government of Ontar- io, government of Canada, and Royal Botanical Gardens funded the work to replace aging pipes, redesign and rebuild the garden beds, and repair aging stairs and paths. Far more than a facelift, the project included a brand-new visitor centre overlooking the bowl, numerous new woody plants and a lot of TLC for the historic plantings. Several of the plants from 1930 have survived, including the first plant in the records of Royal Botanical Gardens: Cryptome- ria japonica, accession number 30-001. The new garden design is by Janet Rosenberg & Studio


The garden offers a chance to experience it at night, with special events like the Luna light show.


24 • Fall 2016


in Toronto. Taking inspiration from Dutch garden design- er Piet Oudolf, the renewed Rock Garden concentrates on beautiful perennial plants, including a wide variety of grasses and hostas. It has been designed with sustainability in mind, employing a low-environmental-impact philoso- phy that reduces disturbance to the soil.


localgardener.net


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