Mother’s Day Unplugged: Royal Botanical Gardens

Hacking the Holidays Places

Tulips. Don't see these very often on GeekDad.Tulips. Don't see these very often on GeekDad.

And now for something completely different: tulips (don't ask me what kind). The Rock Garden at Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. Photo by Jody Moon.

Mother’s Day around our place has frequently featured video gaming sessions, where my wife is given the opportunity to play a game, theoretically without interruption — anything in the Zelda series is a typical choice. This might not sound like a big deal, but since we’ve had kids, sitting down and spending two or three hours on a video game has been practically unheard of. I just started playing Skyrim at Christmas and that will probably keep me busy for years (I set aside Fallout 3 after playing it an hour or so a week for several years). This year we decided to do something different, though. We went unplugged. Well, at least once we arrived at the destination. I saw iPads being wielded in the car en route.

We’re just an hour and a half from Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), home of the Royal Botanical Gardens. We spent a day last year touring the different facilities and the kids thought that Mother’s Day in the Rock Garden — a 6-acre, Depression-era former gravel pit that’s been transformed into a maze of outdoor gardens, rock staircases, trails and water features — would be something my wife would enjoy. Every spring, the Rock Garden is home to an incredible tulip display, where 100,000 bulbs (along with all sort of other flowers) are featured. With the weather we’ve had this year, we weren’t sure what to expect, but there was still a pretty good showing of blooms on Sunday. There was a band playing jazz as well, to help set the mood. I’m not a big gardener, so I can’t really comment other than to say there were a lot of flowers, they were really colorful and I think I set myself up for a world of hurt when Jody started trying to figure out how to replicate the effect in our considerably smaller than 6-acre back yard. I bought 50 tulip bulbs once and thought I was doing pretty well, but clearly I’m very short of the high score.

If you’re ever in the Hamilton area (it’s about an hour from Toronto as well), the Royal Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit. The trails and stairs at the Rock Garden are pretty good for wearing out kids and they might just learn something too. The RBG complex is quite extensive, with five garden areas, 17 miles of trails, an atrium and a nature interpretive center — perfect for getting outdoors and getting some fresh air. Family admission (two adults and two children) for the works is $30.00 plus tax.

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