The RBG Rock Garden

The Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton, Ontario, is one of the best public gardens within a short drive of Buffalo.

The Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton, Ontario, is actually made up of four different gardens (or parks) plus the RGB Centre, which ties them all together. I’m ashamed to admit I had never been there before. It’s about a one hour drive from my house. It’s just beyond Ikea (for local folks that’s a Canadian landmark!).

I was able to visit the Hendrie Park gardens – formal gardens with a tea house, lily collection, scented garden, rose garden, a medicinal garden and more. I’ll post about that visit some other time. I was having camera trouble there, so I don’t have a lot of good photos.

The Laking Garden’s iris collection. I’d never seen so many iris together in one place. The colors! Visit here in mid June.

There’s also the Laking Garden, with its iris, peony and clematis collections – and a hosta walk. There’s also an Arboretum Park, an many nature trails, which I did not visit. this trip.

This post is on the beautiful Rock Garden. Technically, it’s referred to as the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden. Rock garden is a misnomer – it is most decidedly not a rock garden. Rock gardens are conventionally alpine gardens. This is a quarry garden, much like Butchart Gardens‘ Quarry Garden in Victoria, BC, Canada.

You can spend a full day visiting the entirety of the four parks. I only had a few hours of an afternoon, and did get to do quick spins of the Hendrie, Laking, and Rock Gardens. The Rock Garden was, by far, my favorite.


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The park layout.
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Google satellite view of the Rock Garden. Looks like it was under construction at the time – the man-made river is not apparent.
A river runs through it.


I call this photo, “Clueless.”


Many sets of awesome stairs.
The textures!


I was there mid-June. I’d love to get back in different seasons.


At the top of the quarry is the Event & Visitors Center.


Can’t wait to get back!

Jim Charlier is an advertising designer/photographer/crafter with a serious gardening problem. He's co-written a garden design book featuring the funky, quirky and fun gardens by the gardeners of Buffalo titled "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" (; he writes a long-standing garden blog (; led the largest garden tour in America, Garden Walk Buffalo; has written for, or provided photography for dozens of magazines and books; has made presentations and participated in panel discussions on garden design and garden tourism nationally and internationally.

1 comment on “The RBG Rock Garden

  1. The RBG rock garden is definitely one of my favourites. With so many wonderful plants, trees & the winding paths, there’s something interesting to see around every corner. I especially love the sweeping views – it’s such a tranquil garden.


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