Close up of a gorgeous flower.

Photographer’s guide to gardens in Ontario

Close up of a gorgeous flower.

For gardens in Scarborough, North York Toronto and Etobicoke, read Beautiful gardens in the Greater Toronto Area.

Keep in mind, advanced booking and special permits are required for any commercial or professional photography sessions and shoots, as well as for drone photography or video. And be sure to respect the privacy of other guests at the garden.

Southwestern Ontario

Dieppe Gardens

From the flowering annuals and water feature to the military monuments and cityscape, there are year-round photo-worthy views from this outdoor, riverside garden, named in honour of the Essex Scottish Regiment of Windsor who fought in World War II in Dieppe, France.

Location: 78 Riverside Drive West, at the foot of Ouellette Avenue, Windsor

Plan your visit: Public and free, metered street parking is available.

Whistling Gardens

Growing since 2012, Whistling Gardens is an eight hectare horticultural attraction featuring 4 kilometres of walking trails in Norfolk County. North America’s largest public peony collection, a conifer garden, an alpine garden and a formal floral display inspired by a Palace of Versailles design. Workshops, events and guided tours are offered, and garden photography is encouraged with prescheduled photo club group tours available. 

Location: 698 Concession 3 Townsend, Wilsonville 

Plan your visit: Opens May 4, 2024 to Thanksgiving Monday in October 2024, $14.50 adult admission, with senior discounts offered on special days. Youth ages 5-17, $6.50. Free admission for children ages 4 and under.

Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington

Guelph Arboretum

Adjacent to the University of Guelph, over 160 hectares of gardens, trails, woodlands, wetlands and meadows serve as a living laboratory for students, the perfect habitat for a variety of birds, insects, reptiles and mammals, and offers wonderous, ever-changing opportunities for photographers. Specialized photography workshops are held throughout the year. 

Location: 200 Arboretum Road, Guelph

Plan your visit: Free admission, open 7 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., free parking available.

Niagara Region

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

With meticulously maintained gardens that include a formal parterre design, close to 2,500 roses, dramatic treelined footpaths and meandering pathways around the Butterfly Conservatory to ponds and fields, it’s hard not to take a winning photo here. Opened in 1936, the site is also home to an arboretum of ornamental trees and the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. Check the Bloom Chart for what’s flowering, and don’t miss the Floral Showcase and Floral Clock, also operated by Niagara Parks.

Location: 2565 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls

Plan your visit: Open year-round, free admission, parking $5.

Hamilton, Halton and Brant

Royal Botanical Gardens

The largest botanical garden in Canada, RBG has been assigned as a National Historic Site for its rich natural and cultural value. Headquarters are located in Burlington, while the over 1000 hectares of protected land, formal gardens, 27 kilometres of nature trails and forest stretch to Hamilton along the slopes of the Niagara Escarpment. Each season delivers different scenery, special events and of course, flowering flora. See what’s in bloom.

Location: 680 Plains Road West, Burlington for RBG Centre and Hendrie Park. Arboretum, Nature Interpretive Centre and Rock Garden are located in Hamilton.

Plan your visit: There are both free and ticketed sections of RBG, which are open year-round. Adult admission $19.50, and twilight hours tickets ($14.50) are only available for purchase in-person between 5-7pm, parking included with admission, pay parking at trail heads.

Gairloch Gardens

Another garden taking full advantage of its lakeside location to create a picturesque setting framing the Lake Ontario vistas. The little arched wooden bridge over a stream, resident ducks, lush manicured lawn, colourful flowerbeds and well-tended rose garden give it a storybook charm.

Location: 1306 Lakeshore Boulevard between Morrison and Cairncroft Roads, Oakville

Plan your visit: Free admission, open year-round, onsite parking available.

Greater Toronto Area

Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens

Lake Ontario serves as the backdrop for this seven hectare outdoor gardens, one of the largest public collections of rhododendrons and azaleas in Canada. Early May through June is when the flowers are in full bloom, however companion perennials, walking trails, lake views, butterflies and songbirds make this a lovely spot to photograph any time of year.

Location: 660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga in the village of Port Credit

Plan your visit: Admission is free, and the gardens are open year-round, parking is limited, accessible by Mississauga Transit from Port Credit GO station, and connects to the Waterfront Cycling Trail.

York, Durham and Headwaters

McMichael’s Canadian Collection Gardens

Combine your love of nature photography with art appreciation at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Beyond the gallery collection of Group of Seven, Indigenous, Métis, Inuit and contemporary works of art, the property extends across 40 hectares (100 acres) of forested maple, oak and pine woodland. A network of paths and hiking trails lead to the ridgetop wilderness garden, the traditional Anishinaabe Minokamik Garden, the Ivan Eyre Sculpture Garden, the Tom Thomson shack and the McMichael Cemetery, the resting place of six of the Group of Seven members.

Location: 10365 Islington Avenue, Vaughan

Plan your visit: Paid parking is available.

Peony Garden in Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Since the donation of 100 plants in 2001 the collection of Peonies in the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens has grown to the largest contemporary collection in North America.

Location: 155 Arena Street, Oshawa

Plan your visit: Over 300 varieties of Peonies bloom annually in late May through June. The Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens is open all year round.

Southeastern Ontario

Corby Park Rose Garden

Everything’s coming up roses at this ornamental garden in Belleville’s old east village. Dedicated to the city back in 1905, the park is now surrounded by heritage homes and the formal rows of roses around a centre rose-petal-designed water fountain suits the ambiance of the neighbourhood.

Location: 210 Ann Street, Belleville

Plan your visit: Free admission to Corby Park, summer is the best season to capture the blooming roses.

Ottawa and countryside

Dominion Arboretum & Experimental Farm

There’s no shortage of photo-inspiring outdoor parks and glorious gardens in Canada’s capital, a city that prides itself on maintaining natural attractions and green spaces. This is the home of the world’s largest annual tulip festival after all. But for a wide variety of plant diversity, garden design and postcard perfect city views, head to the Central Experimental Farm, an operational agricultural and research facility established in 1889. The site includes a tropical greenhouse, wildlife garden and ornamental garden, as well as the Dominion Arboretum section which covers over 25 hectares with over 2000 varieties of trees and shrubs.

Location: 960 Carling Avenue, Ottawa

Plan your visit: Garden attractions are free, open daily from dawn to dusk, except the greenhouse, which is open Monday to Friday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., free parking is available or access via OC Transpo public transportation.

Last updated: March 28, 2024

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