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Exploring the Beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver

Updated on March 4, 2015
AliciaC profile image

Linda Crampton is a teacher and writer who lives in Greater Vancouver. She enjoys walking and likes to take photographs of her discoveries.

A beautiful water lily at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia
A beautiful water lily at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia | Source
The unusual leaves of a monkey puzzle tree in the garden
The unusual leaves of a monkey puzzle tree in the garden | Source

The VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver is a wonderful place to visit. The garden is 22 hectares (55 acres) in area and is easily reached by public transit from the downtown core of Vancouver. Although it's called a garden, the area resembles a park. It contains a wide variety of beautiful plants from different parts of the world, several ponds and lakes, different habitats, a collection of smaller gardens and some interesting sculptures.

The garden attracts many local and migrating birds, which add to the enjoyment of a visit. Fish, turtles, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects can also be seen in the garden, as well as wildlife such as squirrels and an occasional coyote. Although most of the flowers are in bloom in spring, summer and early fall, the VanDusen Garden offers attractions and special events for plant and nature lovers all year round. It even contains some flowers that bloom in winter.

I always enjoy my visits to the garden and love to take photographs there. I find new inspiration for photography after walking for just a few paces! All the photos in this article were taken by me.

The Visitor Centre at the VanDusen Botanical Garden
The Visitor Centre at the VanDusen Botanical Garden | Source
Beautiful colour at the garden
Beautiful colour at the garden | Source

The Visitor Centre

The VanDusen Botanical Garden opened on August 30th, 1975. It was named after Whitford Julian VanDusen, a local lumberman and philanthropist, who died in 1978.

The entrance to the VanDusen Botanical Garden is located in the Visitor Centre. This building was created in 2011 and looks like an orchid when viewed from above. It was designed to be a model of sustainability and has several environmentally friendly features. Solar energy provides power. Water is obtained by capturing rain and by purifying and reusing other water.

The Visitor Centre houses the largest public access horticultural library in western Canada. Visitors can do research in the library without charge. However, they must be a member of the VanDusen Botanical Garden if they wish to borrow a book. Membership is available to the general public for an annual fee,

The Visitor Centre also contains the Truffles Cafe for casual meals and snacks, a gift shop and washrooms. A nearby building houses the Shaughnessy Restaurant, which can be reserved for special events. "Shaughnessy" is the name of the neighbourhood in which the VanDusen garden is located.

Aquatic Scenes at the VanDusen Botanical Garden

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A mallard ducklingA female mallardAnother view of the female mallard duckOne of the beautiful bodies of water at the GardenAnother view of the water and the surrounding plantsBeautiful plantsA lovely scene at the gardenA fountain in the gardenWater liliesLooking across a lake to another section of the garden
A mallard duckling
A mallard duckling | Source
A female mallard
A female mallard
Another view of the female mallard duck
Another view of the female mallard duck
One of the beautiful bodies of water at the Garden
One of the beautiful bodies of water at the Garden
Another view of the water and the surrounding plants
Another view of the water and the surrounding plants
Beautiful plants
Beautiful plants
A lovely scene at the garden
A lovely scene at the garden
A fountain in the garden
A fountain in the garden
Water lilies
Water lilies
Looking across a lake to another section of the garden
Looking across a lake to another section of the garden
Asters
Asters | Source

The Rhododendron Walk in the VanDusen Botanical Garden

The VanDusen Botanical Garden website offers a downloadable map of the garden as well as current admission prices and other useful information.

Some Highlights of a Visit to the VanDusen Botanical Garden

One of the nice things about the VanDusen Garden is the variety of landscaping that it offers. In some parts of the garden I feel like I'm walking on a forest trail; in others I'm travelling over an expansive area of grass or beside formal flower beds; and in still others I find myself beside a naturalistic pond or lake containing aquatic plants and animals.

The VanDusen garden contains plants from around the world. There are many different things to see in the garden and many highlights to a visit. Some of my personal highlights include the following.

  • The lakes and ponds are lovely places to see plants and animals, including ducks and ducklings in the spring and early summer.
  • The rose garden contains a sundial as well as roses. Other beautiful flowers and trees are located nearby. This is a very photogenic area in summer!
  • Other mini gardens with different plant types offer their own attractions. Examples include the Sino-Himalayan garden, the heather garden, the fragrance garden (in season), the rhododendron walk and the fern dell.
  • The maze is made from 3,000 pyramidal cedars and is technically known as a hedge maze. The hedge is over six feet tall. A monkey puzzle tree is located in the centre of the maze. There is a raised viewing terrace outside the maze for people who would like to get a good photograph.
  • The Great Lawn was once part of the Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club, which now exists on a different site. The repurposed "lawn" is very large and is a beautiful area. It's a lovely place to sit and relax, have a picnic or watch a special event.
  • The trails are a major highlight for me, because by walking along them I can see all of the garden's attractions. A map is very handy to make sure that sections of the garden aren't missed, since the trails wind, branch and intersect. An exploration plan is necessary, unless someone wants to wander at random and be surprised by what they discover.

Other interesting attractions at the garden include the colourful Korean Pavilion, the medicine wheel in the Canadian Heritage Garden, totem poles, sculptures, giant redwood trees and a waterfall.

Flowers at the VanDusen Botanical Garden

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A California poppyA beautiful irisColourful delphiniumsAn interesting plant in the gardenA beautiful heatherA white water lilyMore irisesThe wide range of flower colours in the garden is lovely.The VanDusen garden is a great place for flower photography.Flowers by a monkey puzzle treeFlowers near the rose gardenA close up view of an aster flower
A California poppy
A California poppy | Source
A beautiful iris
A beautiful iris
Colourful delphiniums
Colourful delphiniums
An interesting plant in the garden
An interesting plant in the garden
A beautiful heather
A beautiful heather
A white water lily
A white water lily
More irises
More irises
The wide range of flower colours in the garden is lovely.
The wide range of flower colours in the garden is lovely.
The VanDusen garden is a great place for flower photography.
The VanDusen garden is a great place for flower photography.
Flowers by a monkey puzzle tree
Flowers by a monkey puzzle tree
Flowers near the rose garden
Flowers near the rose garden
A close up view of an aster flower
A close up view of an aster flower
Part of my favourite sculpture in the garden
Part of my favourite sculpture in the garden | Source

Special Events at the Garden

Special events are held in the garden throughout the year. The most well known and best loved of these are the Sakura Days Japan Fair in the spring, which is part of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Festival of Lights at Christmas.

"Sakura" is the Japanese name for cherry blossom. The Sakura Days Japan Fair showcases Japanese music, dance, arts and crafts and food. During the fair there are performances, demonstrations and opportunities for visitors to participate in activities. The beautiful cherry blossom in the garden provides a lovely backdrop to the event.

The Festival of Lights is attractive and impressive. Over a million Christmas lights entertain visitors, except on Christmas Day, when the garden is closed. Some of the lights are "dancing" and are involved in a light show. Other attractions are part of the festival as well, including Santa Claus. The festival is so popular that it's advisable to buy tickets in advance.

Other events that are held at the garden include flower shows, plant sales, bird walks, specialty car shows and Easter egg hunts in the maze for children. Weddings and filming also take place in the garden.

Garden Scenes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A lovely monkey puzzle treeThe terrace by the mazeThe sundial and the rose gardenThe rose gardenFlowering dogwood and other treesA close up of a treeThis tree was planted at when the garden was opened in 1975.One of the sculptures in the gardenPart of a Minotaur sculptureA canoe carved by Canadian artist Bill Reid A pathway through flower bedsThe Great LawnA path by the Great LawnThe waterfallA monument to celebrate a haiku competition held during the spring cherry blossom festivalThe maze and the monkey puzzle tree in the centreA scene in the fern dell
A lovely monkey puzzle tree
A lovely monkey puzzle tree | Source
The terrace by the maze
The terrace by the maze
The sundial and the rose garden
The sundial and the rose garden
The rose garden
The rose garden
Flowering dogwood and other trees
Flowering dogwood and other trees
A close up of a tree
A close up of a tree
This tree was planted at when the garden was opened in 1975.
This tree was planted at when the garden was opened in 1975.
One of the sculptures in the garden
One of the sculptures in the garden
Part of a Minotaur sculpture
Part of a Minotaur sculpture
A canoe carved by Canadian artist Bill Reid
A canoe carved by Canadian artist Bill Reid
A pathway through flower beds
A pathway through flower beds
The Great Lawn
The Great Lawn
A path by the Great Lawn
A path by the Great Lawn
The waterfall
The waterfall
A monument to celebrate a haiku competition held during the spring cherry blossom festival
A monument to celebrate a haiku competition held during the spring cherry blossom festival
The maze and the monkey puzzle tree in the centre
The maze and the monkey puzzle tree in the centre
A scene in the fern dell
A scene in the fern dell
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Delphiniums"Observing Your Society" by David RubenOne of the ferns in the fern dell
Delphiniums
Delphiniums | Source
"Observing Your Society" by David Ruben
"Observing Your Society" by David Ruben
One of the ferns in the fern dell
One of the ferns in the fern dell

Visiting the Garden and its Surroundings

Several hours are needed to explore the whole of the VanDusen Garden. Places to sit down, water and washrooms are located at various places in the park. If visitors get hungry during their walk, though, they'll have to go back to the cafe in the Visitor Centre to get a snack, unless they've brought food with them.

If an entire day is available to explore botanical gardens, a visit to the VanDusen Garden can be combined with a visit to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Park and Bloedel Floral Conservatory. These are also very beautiful sites.

Both the Bloedel Conservatory and the VanDusen Garden are owned by the City of Vancouver. They are jointly run by the Vancouver Park Board and the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association. Each organization has specific responsibilities with respect to governance of the gardens.

Guided tours of the VanDusen garden begin at the Visitor Centre. Cart tours are available for people with limited mobility. The garden contains both paved and unpaved paths. The paved paths, Visitor Centre and restaurant are all wheelchair accessible. The garden is open on every day of the year except Christmas Day.

The VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia

A markerVanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver -
VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1, Canada
get directions

Flowering dogwood
Flowering dogwood | Source

Getting to the VanDusen Botanical Garden

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is located on Oak Street at its intersection with West 37th Avenue. At the time of writing this article there was no parking fee, which is not the case in some other Vancouver parks. Parking is limited, however.

The garden can also be reached by public transit. A bus travels along Oak Street and stops by the garden. SkyTrain is the rapid transit system in the Greater Vancouver area. The nearest SkyTrain station to the VanDusen Garden is at the Oakridge Shopping Centre, as shown in the map above. Translink runs the public transit system in the greater Vancouver area and has a useful trip planner on its website.

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is one of the gems of Vancouver. It's definitely worth seeing for both local people and for visitors to the city. The length of a visit is up to the explorer, but the garden is capable of providing many hours of enjoyment.

© 2014 Linda Crampton

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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      What a place and so many beautiful things to see! Your photos are amazing. I've always wanted to visit Vancouver. If I manage to do that I'll certainly have a look at this.

      Ann

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Ann. Thank you very much for the visit and comment! There are lots of interesting things to see in Vancouver, but I think that the VanDusen Garden should definitely be visited if this is at all possible.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have also written about that gorgeous garden with the beautiful water features, sculptures and more after visiting it many years ago. I saw some new sculptures in your photos that might have been added since the time our our visit. Gorgeous photos Alicia, and good information for those wishing to have an enjoyable and relaxing day spent in beautiful surroundings. That monkey puzzle tree is certainly interesting! Pinning to my Gardens board and will also share with my followers + G+ and up votes.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for all the support, Peggy! I appreciate your comment and the pin, shares and votes a great deal.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You live in such a beautiful area, Alicia. It's really nice to see you highlighting some of those sites.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks, Bill. Yes, I do live in a beautiful area!

    • oldiesmusic profile image

      oldiesmusic 3 years ago from United States

      Stunning photos! I love the pic of the delphiniums in particular, with varying shades of blue and purple. Lucky you, you live near the beautiful gardens.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, oldiesmusic! Yes, I feel very lucky to live where I do. The delphiniums are one of my favourite flowers at the garden. They are so pretty.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Exquisite Hub I like all the photos and you shared such an interesting hub.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much, Devika! I appreciate your visit.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A beautiful hub Alicia. Voting up, sharing and wishing you a wonderful day.

      Eddy.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the comment, Eddy. I appreciate the vote and the share as well. I hope you have a wonderful day, too.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Linda, this was a beautiful hub that made me wish I could visit. Your description and photos were lovely. The duckling was my favorite.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Flourish!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, I would so love to visit such a beautiful garden! Your photos are always amazing, and I am thankful you share your visits with us all here to enjoy.

      Voted up ++++ and away

      Blessings always

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the comment and the vote, Faith. I always appreciate your visits! Blessings to you as well.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Linda. What a beautiful place. When we visited Vancouver years ago we did not make it to the Botanical Garden. We'll have to return someday. It certainly looks like a place that would appeal to me. Your photos are incredible.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Bill. Hopefully you'll see the garden in person one day! Thank you so much for the comment about the photos.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I would love to hike some of those trails you mention here. I don't believe I know of any gardens here that have such winding adventurous paths. The Festival of Lights would be wonderful to see. Thanks for the share on this beautiful place in Vancouver.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi Dianna. Thank you very much for the comment. The Festival of Lights is a lovely event. It's certainly popular!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow....beautiful place. I really enjoy the review and all pictures here. I hope I can go there someday. Thanks and voted up!

      Prasetio

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Prasetio. It's lovely to hear from you! Thank you for the comment and the vote. I hope you see the garden in person one day.

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      Your pictures are absolutely amazing! I have so fallen in love with the baby duck. What a sweet image.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, WriterJanis! I appreciate the comment.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Vancouver sounds like it has a lot to offer. Maybe one day I can get some good bird pictures. Do you have a birding club/Audubon Society that I could contact?

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Deb. No, there's no Audubon Society in Vancouver as far as I know.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Voted up and UBAI! I've been to Vancouver once and would love to make another trip there just to see this beautiful botanical garden. Love the aquatic gardens. A lovely hub and will share.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, the votes and the share, Audrey! I appreciate your visit. I hope you're able to visit Vancouver again and see the botanical garden. I'm sure you would enjoy it!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations for HOTD!

      Beautiful hub with amazing flower pictures. Vancouver looks beautiful and you live at a lovely place.

      Thanks for sharing the beauty of this wonderful garden!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      I can see why this garden is a GEM! I would love to see this place. You did a beautiful job on this Hub with all your beautiful photos. I can see why you got HOTD for this Hub!

      Voted UP, etc. shared here, on Google+, and certainly Pinned to my gardening board.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the congratulations, ChitrangadaSharan! Vancouver does have some beautiful places to explore. It's a great place to take photographs.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the comment, the votes and all the shares, Mary! I appreciate your visit very much.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      I've been reading about Vancouver, BC a lot in the last year. It looks like another lovely Northwestern City, the kind you may visit but don't like to leave.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, ologsinquito. That's a good description of Vancouver! The city has its problems, like most major cities, but it also has some great benefits and some beautiful scenery.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Big congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved, especially with all your beautiful photos in this hub. Thank you for sharing this beautiful place with us!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the congratulations and the comment, Heidi! I appreciate them both.

    • Night Magic profile image

      Night Magic 3 years ago from Canada

      A well deserved Hub of the Day. I'll be in Vancouver this fall & after reading your hub, I'll definitely be going to the Botanical Gardens. I really appreciated the, "Getting to the VanDusen Botanical Garden" --- Thanks

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Night Magic. Thank you for the comment! I'm glad the hub was helpful for you. I hope you have a very enjoyable trip to Vancouver.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I truly love gardens of all kinds. Botanical gardens are a special treat I think! I have not been to this one, but would love to visit sometime if I ever got the chance. I loved all your photos, thank you for sharing this! :)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I would so love to visit the Van Dusen Botanical Garden! Your photos are simply stunning. Congratulations!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love botanical gardens too, oceansnsunsets! They are so interesting to visit and provide such lovely photo opportunities. Thank you very much for the comment.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Rebecca. Thank you so much for the kind comment and the congratulations!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These gardens are stunning and I really loved the video walk through and the exquisite photos. It was nearly as good as being there. Congratulations on winning the Hub of the Day award for this gorgeous article.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for such a lovely comment and for the congratulations, Peg! I always appreciate your visits.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Oh how lovely. I always try to visit botanical gardens when I travel and this would be top of my list if I ever went to Vancouver. Thanks for the visit.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Glimmer. I'm sure you would like the garden if you visited it. It's a beautiful place. Thank you very much for the comment.

    • precy anza profile image

      precy anza 2 years ago from USA

      Beautiful! Thanks for sharing it with us. I love the flowers, specially the lilies and the mallards too. It fells like being there too as I read. Up and shared! :)

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the share, precy anza. It's nice to meet you!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I have been going through a number of botanical garden hubs and I notice that some gardens host artwork as well. This certainly makes for a greater spectrum of things to appreciate.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It certainly does, poetryman6969. I love looking at sculpture in botanical gardens. Thanks for the comment.

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