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Exploring the Beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver

Linda Crampton is a 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 British Columbia

A beautiful water lily at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in British Columbia

An Attractive and Interesting Garden

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 the city. 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. It even contains 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 because there's so much to see. I took all of the photos in this article except for the one showing me photographing a monkey puzzle tree, which my sister took.

The roof of the Visitor Centre looks like an orchid when viewed from above.

The roof of the Visitor Centre looks like an orchid when viewed from above.

Every part of the garden that I've explored is attractive with respect to life or design. Even the Visitor Centre has interesting features.

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, a gift shop, and washrooms. The cafe provides light meals and snacks. A nearby building houses the Shaughnessy Restaurant, which can be reserved for special events. "Shaughnessy" is the name of the neighbourhood in which the garden is located.

Some Highlights of a Visit

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 garden contains plants from around the world. There are many different things to see in the garden and many highlights to enjoy. Some of my personal highlights are described below.

  • 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. The garden's website provides a downloadable map.

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.

The Rhododendron Walk

An exploration plan is necessary during a visit to the garden unless someone wants to wander at random and be surprised by what they discover.

Special Events

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. It offers performances, demonstrations, and opportunities for visitors to participate in activities. The beautiful cherry blossoms in the garden provide 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.

Davis Ruben Piqtoukun created the first sculpture shown above. He's an Inuit sculptor and printmaker from the Northwest Territories.

Exploring the Neighbourhood

Several hours are needed to explore the whole of the VanDusen Garden. Seats, water, and washrooms are located at various places in the park. If visitors get hungry during their walk, 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. The park is free to enter, but the conservatory charges a fee.

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. Certified guide dogs are welcome, but not other pets. Smoking is prohibited. The garden is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.

It's advisable to check the garden's website before a visit in order to discover the current open hours and admissions cost. The site also has a bloom calendar. A link to the website is provided in the "Resources" section below.

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 garden is at the Oakridge Shopping Centre. Translink runs the public transit system in the greater Vancouver area and has a useful trip planner app 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.

Flowering dogwood

Flowering dogwood

Resources

  • The VanDusen Botanical Garden website offers useful information about the garden as well as current admission prices.
  • Translink has an online trip planner app for travellers by public transit.

© 2014 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 08, 2015:

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

poetryman6969 on March 08, 2015:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 03, 2014:

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

precy anza from USA on September 03, 2014:

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! :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 29, 2014:

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.

Claudia Mitchell on August 29, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 26, 2014:

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

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 26, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 25, 2014:

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

Paula from The Midwest, USA on July 25, 2014:

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! :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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.

Night Magic from Canada on July 25, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 25, 2014:

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!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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.

ologsinquito from USA on July 25, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2014:

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

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 25, 2014:

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.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 25, 2014:

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!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 22, 2014:

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!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 22, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 16, 2014:

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

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on July 16, 2014:

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?

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 09, 2014:

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

Janis from California on July 09, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 06, 2014:

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.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 06, 2014:

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

Prasetio

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 06, 2014:

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

Dianna Mendez on July 06, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 05, 2014:

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

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 05, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 04, 2014:

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

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 04, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 04, 2014:

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

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 04, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 04, 2014:

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.

Eiddwen from Wales on July 04, 2014:

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

Eddy.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2014:

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

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 02, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2014:

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.

oldiesmusic from United States on July 02, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2014:

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

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2014:

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

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2014:

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.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 02, 2014:

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