Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias at Royal Botanical Gardens

The wait for the most iconic sign of spring is over! After a long and wet start to the season, Royal Botanical Gardens’ (RBG’s) flowering cherry (Prunus) and award-winning Magnolia collections are in bloom. With magnificent colours and delicate fragrance, these collections entice visitors to plan their own hanami, the Japanese tradition of enjoying flowering cherries and other spring ephemerals.

The bulk of theses collections are displayed in RBG’s Arboretum (16 Old Guelph Rd, Hamilton). To support Blooms Season, time-ticketed parking reservations are required for vehicle access to the Arboretum from May 5 until June 1, seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parking is $30 per vehicle and redeemable at the Arboretum only. Parking is free for RBG Members.

RBG’s flowering cherry tree collection can be found both at the Arboretum and the David Braley & Nancy Gordon Rock Garden. Known for their breathtaking buds and pink confetti-like petals that drift down onto the grass, flowering cherries, or Sakura in Japanese, are particularly important in Japanese culture as a symbol of the ephemeral and impermanent nature of life. Flowering cherries, especially Prunus ‘Accolade’ are known as bee magnets so a great choice to include in a pollinizer-supporting garden.

Thanks to successful propagation efforts, approximately 45 new additions will be added to the cherry collection later this year. The incoming trees were propagated by a local nursery through grafting stem cuttings collected from aging and declining trees located at the Rock Garden in 2018. Since many of these taxa are no longer available in the nursery trade, this was a wonderful way to preserve and extend the life of these historic cherry accessions at RBG.

The early, cold-hardy varieties of the Garden’s magnolia collection, including the Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), are now in bloom at the Arboretum, and it won’t be long before later-blooming varieties like the stunning Saucer Magnolia join the show. Individual magnolia trees can also be found at Rock Garden, Hendrie Park, and Laking Garden.

Blooms Watch

Look out for other blooms gracing the Gardens this month. From redbuds at the Arboretum to the earliest flowering Standard Dwarf and Intermediate Bearded Iris at Laking Garden, there’s a variety of colours and textures popping up across RBG. For updates on the status of key collections, visit rbg.ca/whats-in-bloom

RBG records the flowering times of its cherries on an annual basis as part of a biological science known as phenology, an important tool in helping to track climate change. Once in bloom, cherry blossoms typically last around 2 weeks, but wind and other environmental factors can shorten their viewing time — a must-see of spring, come have a happy hanami before they’re gone!

Learn more and book your parking reservation at the Arboretum here.

Please note: tickets are only required for motor vehicles. There is no additional admission fee to access the Arboretum

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