Rock Garden Rejuvenation

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG)


Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG)


Burlington, Ontario

Design Team

Janet Rosenberg & Studio (Landscape Architect)
CS&P Architects (Architect)


Completed 2016


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

Photography Credit: Jeff McNeill Photography, Site Plan Rendering (JRS)

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 a 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 also 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 provide alternatives to traditional spring bulbs / annual planting the Rock Garden had traditionally relied on.

Planting included select removals of old/tired trees and shrubs and addition of over 28,000 new plants (750 species). New plantings rely on flower, foliage, fall colour, and fruit to add all-season interest. Work included detailed planting records to assist RBG staff with cataloging the plant collections. Feature gardens at 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 include walkways, parking areas, accessible garden entrances, a reflecting pool feature that lines the front (public) façade of the Visitor Centre, and a stone-paved event terrace. 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.

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