Montreal In The Fall 11

Go see Canada’s spectacular Fall Foliage Color, first hand, on a walking tour in Montreal.

Visit he Arboretum of the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Both areas cover a 40-hectares, the equivalent of 59 football fields — that’s over 180 acres!

Note: there are no marked trails in the Arboretum. You will be walking on the grass and using the map to find your way around. If you are worried about getting lost, check the Arboretum map or talk to the staff at the Tree House center at the MBG before you set out.

With that settled, the MBG crew suggests that you start your tour from the northern tip of the Garden, which will bring you to the Arboretum immediately.

Montreal Botanical Garden – get a map online, too.

Station 3: Oaks

Continuing south from your first 2 stops in the Arboretum, you’ll reach the huge collection of oaks (Quercus spp.). They were planted well apart from one another to give them all the space they need to spread their broad leafy crowns, and you can relate what you can expect to see to all those Robin Hood movies of “Sherwood Forest”, where giant trees have amazing presence and spleandour.

Some specimens of English oak (Quercus robur) have massive branches stretching outward for several meters! They are one of the most magnificent trees on the planet and any time you have the chance to see a grove or forest of fully-grown oaks is amazing!

It’s easy to understand why oaks are associated with the qualities of: strength, hardiness and longevity. For once, the Latin name of the genus, Quercus, comes from the Celtic words quer (fine) and cuez (tree), and indeed, the Celts and Druids honor this tree.

In this Canadian collection of “fine trees”, the red oaks (Quercus rubra) stand out because of their magnificent bronze-red fall foliage. Then, a bit later in the season, it is the upright, narrow English oaks (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) which steal the show, with their marcescent leaves — which are on the most juvenile parts of the tree and which are likely to stay as withering leaves in winter, without dropping in Autumn. They don’t drop off until the spring. That is what being marcescent means.

At one time there were many red, white (Quercus alba) and bur (Quercus macrocarpa) oaks in Southern Quebec, but the unbridled popularity of oak for shipbuilding, cabinet-, carriage- and barrel-making (as well as firewood) quickly reduced their numbers. Even today, oak is very popular because it is hard, heavy and strong, with a tight, durable grain, but people need to remember that it takes generations to grow a grand oak! Conservation needs to be practiced.

Larches: Larch Walk Montreal Botanical Garden

Maples: Maple Walk – Montreal Arboretum

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