Model railroad and Rose Garden will be different next time you see them at the RBG

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

October 11th, 2017



The Royal Botanical Gardens seem to be in a constant state of change and upgrades.

The model railway installation, that is very popular, is going to be located in what was once the Old Tea House located in the wonderful Rock Garden that is a must see.

Train model location

New home for the Model Railroad exhibit.

The new installation will be ready by November where the Local Railway Heritage Display will feature the unique model train display that celebrates and depicts the rich heritage of railways throughout Hamilton, Burlington, the Niagara Escarpment, and Lake Ontario shoreline.

On a recent tour of the Rock Garden with a friend we came across what used to be the old Tea House where my friend told me they had a light menu that included a lunch.

My friend added that if you go far enough back, likely as many as at least forty years or maybe fifty years ago, there was a paved road in front of the tea house which we actually walked on and I believe another entrance off York Blvd leading to a parking lot down there for a number of cars – a long time ago.

I am not sure when the parking lot was built across the road. I believe that for many years the main access from that parking lot was through a tunnel below York Blvd near the railway.

Walking path in Rock Garden

One of the paths in the Rock Garden

My friend added that the RGB people “have done a good job” but added that the Rock Gardens are in the City of Hamilton, not Burlington, making it a Hamilton attraction.

Mark Runciman, the CEO of the RBG doesn’t differentiate between the two cities – he crosses the border half a dozen times each day.


The Rose Garden – the way it used to look – a redesigned garden is now being put in place

Another change taking place at RBG is the Rose Garden, something Runciman points out is not easily changed. “Our rose enthusiasts are very particular about what we do with that garden.”


Drains being prepped in the Rose Garden that was first open to the public in 1967

The problem for Runciman and his team of gardeners is that the pesticide ban now in place means new bugs show up and they do much damage to the rose plants which mean everything has to be taken out each year.

The new Rose Garden plan features a spectacular display of roses and companion plants intended to extend seasonal interest and keep diseases at bay. They are able to do this by putting in companion plants that will keep the bugs away from the roses.

The focus is on disease resistant, disease-tolerant and cold-hardy roses, including Canadian introductions. The end result will be an innovative, sustainable and inspiring experience at what is the quintessential rose garden for Canada’s largest botanical garden.

There is a drive on now for sponsorship for the newly designed rose garden.

Bloom times

Bloom times

Visitors will notice that the pergolas are being retired and removed from their place in the garden. When Centennial Rose Garden was planted in 1967, these wooden structures were built to hold climbing plants over the garden’s pathways. Fifty years later, the wood has aged and weathered and the gardeners now find that it is the plants that are securing the pergolas.

More on what’s happening at the RBG in the weeks ahead.

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