Tuesday 18 April 2017

Hamilton's Depression Era Rock Quarry Became Rock Garden

'Hamilton's Royal Botanical Gardens puts nature's beauty on display, but it isn't a park system.  It teaches but it isn't a school.  It protects and preserves forest and marsh but it isn't a conservation authority.  It collects and propagates botanical knowledge and plant life, but it is not a library, museum or laboratory.  It is all those things and more than their sum." (Dr. Leslie Laking)

Patterned after Kew Gardens in England, Hamilton's Royal Botanical Gardens were the inspiration of conservationist Thomas Baker McQuesten.  The Gardens, consisting of 400 acres of displays, not only benefit the thousands of tourists and locals who visit each year, but also protect the 2300 acres of "environmentally sensitive lands and diverse ecosystems that connect that Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario" (https://www.rbg.ca/rbghistory).

In 1932, depression-era Hamilton was looking for a make work project to employ unemployed workers. They came upon an abandonned rock quarry which had supplied much of the building materials for Hamilton. Ten thousand tons of limestone from the Niagara Escarpment were shipped in to shore up the walls of the bowl shaped quarry. One hundred thousand tulips and daffodil bulbs were planted.  And a garden bloomed.  The bowl shaped rock garden is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Today, the Royal Botanical Gardens serves as a gateway to the cities of Hamilton and Burlington. A total of 100,000 tulips and daffodils, planted in the fall, bloom there every spring.  Royal Botanical Gardens boasts 2,411 species of plants, 277 species of birds and 37 species of mammals.  Brides and grooms, for a fee, take their photos at the Gardens.

In 2016, the Royal Botanical Gardens received a face lift.  Five hundred tons of new limestone were carted in from Wiarton, Ontario.  A new generation of Hamiltonians can enjoy an old garden in re-bloom (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/property-report/in-hamilton-a-depression-era-garden-reblooms/article29752303/).

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