The temple comes down
With its long, straight aisle flanked by pillar-like tree trunks and its impressive vaulted ceiling of greenery, the Shade Garden was originally like some Gothic cathedral, its floor paved with ferns and other shade plants. But the columns of the temple were undermined by a microscopic fungus, and the majestic American elms had to be cut down. They were replaced in the mid-1980s by maple, linden and ash trees. A pond was added at the same time, along with bridges and winding paths.
Dutch elm disease
In Flore laurentienne, published in 1935, Marie-Victorin described the American elm as “the loveliest tree in northern North America.”
That was before Dutch elm disease arrived in Canada in about 1940 and thousands of elms planted along Montréal's streets and in its parks had to be destroyed.
If the Shade Garden lost its roof of greenery, elsewhere in the Botanical Garden, some twenty trees, including a hundred-year-old elm next to the parking lot, were saved by fungicide injections at the base of their trunks. But only a few of the 35,000 trees that had once graced the city survived.
A world of shady delights!
When the Shade Garden was created, in 1964, there were only about a selection of twenty types of hostas on the market. Since then, some 2,000 cultivars have appeared! The availability of the number of astilbes, ferns and other perennials has also exploded during that period.
These changes have been reflected in the Shade Garden. While it was originally composed mainly of native species, it now showcases many foreign species and cultivars.