The acquired lands included an abandoned gravel pit which was developed – from 1930-1931 as a Depression-era work project – into the first garden. The Rock Garden, as it was known, became an iconic destination for family outings, wedding photos and viewing floral displays.
Janet Rosenberg and Studio in Toronto has been tasked with "rejuvenating a beloved and historically significant garden within the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Master Plan strategy involves enhancing the horticultural collection, improving accessibility and circulation, improving parking, repairing and restoring damaged features, and introducing new elements. The Studio is also working in collaboration with CS&P Architects on a new Visitor Centre which includes a restaurant and event spaces."
Here is my photo tour of the Rock Garden. The water features and walkways are new but the trees are old and still stately as they overlook new block plantings that are entirely contemporary.
Take a walk down into 'the bowl', as it is known.
As Sarah Rogers explains in her article 'Royal Garden', McQuesten sought a Royal designation from King George V which was granted in 1930. "McQuesten's motives for securing a Royal designation for the botanical garden were many. Of course, there was great value in being part of the worldwide Royal Botanical Garden family with such renowned gardens as Kew in England and the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh:, Rogers says. "But most important was the protection the Royal designation would provide for the gardens. McQuesten secured the future of the garden with the Royal designation as it served as an 'in perpetuity' clause protecting the land from commercial development and/or being severed."
Today, we are the beneficiaries of that vision and the horticultural skill that shaped the RGB into one of Canada's premiere public gardens. If you have an opportunity to visit, do.
See the plan for the Rock Garden
Read how you can support the renovation of the Rock Garden
View other notable gardens on Canada's Garden Route