A string of Ottawa gardens are waiting to be discovered by bike
Ottawa’s residents often take their city for granted. Recently though, people with an interest in gardening have realised that besides the tulips in May, Ottawa has much more to offer in terms of parks and gardens.
Gardening goes back to ancient times: Persians, Greek and Romans already understood the benefits of great gardens, initially as a source of food but later also as a source of pleasure.
In Pompeii, the famous city that was buried by meters of ash and pumice after the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in 79, AD some gardens have been recreated. Travellers to Spain may remember the beautiful gardens at the Moorish Alhambra in Granada.
While Ottawa is not Granada, since a few years the Ottawa-Gatineau region has been putting our many gardens on the map. As you will discover, there is a wide spectrum of planned nature.
Did you know for example, that there is a grassy garden on the roof of the Canadian War museum and that you can walk up on the roof (or even ski down in winter, seriously!)?
Have you heard of the extensive 26 ha (64 acre) Arboretum along the Rideau Canal? It is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and harbours many different trees, many of them decades old.
One of our tours goes right through the Arboretum and the adjacent Fletcher wildlife gardens with its native plants only. Not far from the Arboretum you can find a restored tropical greenhouse. Check out the banana tree!
In downtown, at the south end of the Pont du Portage, you can find one of Canada’s foremost Modernist landscapes, the ‘Gardens of the Provinces’, designed in 1960 by Don Graham and formally opened by Prime Minister Diefenbaker two years later.
Don’t miss the signature tree-shaped metal fountain higher up in the park, created by Montreal sculptor Norman Slater. The sculpture is six meters tall and is a symbol of Canada’s forests.
Not far from the Garden of the Provinces is Nanny Goat Hill, founded in 2000. The garden plot received an overhaul in 2018 and is now a state of the art community garden with garden boxes and an open air communal space with a picnic table, allowing gardeners to work at waist level.
This is great for people in wheelchairs for example. In the summer you’ll find a Good Food market every second Saturday. These markets are designed to serve neighbourhoods that lack access to quality produce at great prices. The garden is located at the west end of the Laurier bike lane at Bronson Ave.
Another interesting place some of our bike tours touch on is the historic Aberdeen Pavilion in the Glebe at Lansdowne Park. Just across from the pavilion on the east side, you’ll find the Heirloom orchard, featuring no less than 37 heirloom apple trees. Visit the trees in early summer to see the trees in full bloom, or later in the summer to see the apples being formed.
Under the ‘Garden Promenade’ banner, a number of Ottawa Gardens tours were created that cover all main Ottawa gardens in the region. The route can be done by car and is about 15 km long, but it is much more fun to do a similar route by bicycle. You never have to worry about parking and traffic and the route is very safe. You can stop wherever you want and take in the scents of spring, summer and fall. There are many local coffee shops along the way for coffee, desserts and/or a lunch. What a great way to spend a day on a bike in Ottawa.
We have partnered with the amazing Garden Promenade team and created a brand new tour called “Garden Bike Tour”. You can ask us at Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals to show you the Ottawa Gardens bike tour or you can simply take our rental bikes for a day. While our guides are not always garden specialists, they will bring you to some of the gardens. In fact, our popular tours touch on some of the Ottawa gardens anyway, such as the native grass garden at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.
Ready to book a tour or a bike? Go directly to our website and make a reservation today.