Rock Garden Rejuvenation, Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG)

designed by /

Location: Canada / Hamilton / Type: Botanic Garden / Built: 2016 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on May 9, 2022

The Rock Garden, a former gravel pit adjacent to Hamilton’s major point of entry from Toronto, was the centrepiece of an ambitious Depression-era project to beautify the area. Eighty years later this beloved jewel was in need of rejuvenation. JRS worked in collaboration with CS&P Architects on the project which included the development of a master plan strategy for the site and the creation of a new Visitor Centre with restaurant and event spaces. Key objectives of the project included enhancing the horticultural collection, improving accessibility and circulation, improving parking, repairing and restoring damaged features and introducing new elements, all within a heritage framework. 

The project included garden expansion into the tablelands adjacent to the heritage garden spaces. The expansion included the driveway, accessible parking, and new feature garden areas. Improvements to the existing gardens included a significant upgrade to existing water feature (pond, stream and waterfall), new exposed aggregate pathways to replace many of the granular surfaced walkways, an edit of existing planting to provide colourful planting schemes, and to an alternative to traditional spring bulbs/annual planting that the Rock Garden had traditionally relied on. 

Planting included select removals of old/tired trees and shrubs and the addition of over 28,000 new plants (750 species), with new plantings relying on flower, foliage, fall colour and fruit to add all-season interest. Work included detailed planting records to assist RBG staff with cataloguing the plant collections. Feature gardens at the tablelands include the Dalglish Family Courtyard which is an exterior garden space fully enclosed by 7’ high stone walls planted with alpine/rockery plants. 

The courtyard is paved with large flagstone slabs and contains a calming water feature comprised of 16 spigots emptying into a large basin. Adjacent to the new Visitor Centre, landscape works included new walkways from parking areas to new garden entries, a reflecting pool water feature that lines the front (public) façade of the Visitor Centre, a stone-paved terrace overlooking new garden areas as well the heritage garden site, accessible points of garden entry. Landscape work also included coordination with consultants regarding landscape lighting for evening and seasonal lighting displays, irrigation, signage and way-finding, and mechanical and civil for site services.


2017 CSLA National Award of Excellence

2017 National Trust for Canada, Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award

2017 City of Hamilton Urban Design and Architecture Award (UDAA) of Excellence for a Public Building

Landscape Architect: Janet Rosenberg & Studio

Other designers involved in the design of landscape: CS&P Architects (Project Lead/Visitor Centre Architecture)

Project Location: 1185 York Blvd, Waterdown, ON Canada L0R 2H9

Client: Royal Botanical Gardens (RGB) 

Design year: 2013-2015

Year Built: 2016

Photographer: Jeff McNeill Photography

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