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The Stanley Park Rose Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia

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

A beautiful multicoloured rose in Stanley Park

A beautiful multicoloured rose in Stanley Park

Stanley Park in Vancouver

Visiting Stanley Park is a highlight of a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. The park is a 988-acre oasis of coastal rainforest and green areas right next to downtown Vancouver and the ocean. Much of the landscape consists of forest, but the park also contains large lawns, flower gardens, a lagoon, a lake, and beaches. One of my favourite areas is the beautiful rose garden, which I love to photograph.

The park is located on a peninsula that extends into Burrard Inlet. A path travels along the seawall that surrounds the park. Walkers, runners, cyclists, inline skaters, and wheelchair users enjoy travelling on this very popular path. Trails allow people to explore the forest.

Stanley Park offers many different activities and contains many interesting tourist attractions. The area is a wonderful destination for local people as well as tourists. There is so much to see and do that it would take many articles to describe the area completely. I've chosen to focus on the rose garden and its nearby surroundings. All of the photos in the article were taken by me during my visits to the garden.

A yellow rose in the garden

A yellow rose in the garden

The Rose Garden

The Stanley Park rose garden was established in 1920 by the Kiwanis Club, a service organization. It contains over 3,500 rose bushes, which are arranged in flower beds and also climb over an arbor. Other cultivated plants and flowers surround the garden.

The rose garden is divided into two sections, which are located on either side of a road. One of the joys of entering the garden is the glorious splash of colour that appears. The other is the beautiful fragrance that is carried on the breeze.

The flower beds are surrounded by a lawn. Visitors are allowed to walk on the grass, so they can get a close-up view of the roses and other flowers. The roses bloom in summer, but there are also colourful flowers in the garden in the spring and fall. The area is a popular place for summer wedding photographs. In fact, almost every time that I visit the garden in summer, I see a bride in her beautiful white gown.

In winter there isn't as much colour in the garden, but the lovely evergreen shrubs and trees make it a pleasant place to visit. Winter has its own attractions in Stanley Park, including the presence of a wide variety of water birds.

June to August is the best time to see the roses in bloom. By August, however, the flower display is generally past its prime. It's still worth seeing, though.

Finding the Rose Garden

Stanley Park is named after Frederick Arthur Stanley (1841 to 1908), who was the 16th Earl of Derby. He was the Governor General of Canada from 1888 to 1903. Stanley Park opened in late 1888, but Lord Stanley dedicated it to the public in 1889. Hockey's Stanley Cup is also named after him. He and his family were keen hockey fans.

A causeway runs though Stanley Park. Traffic moves along this causeway to and from the Lions Gate Bridge, which travels over Burrard Inlet to the city of North Vancouver. On the left side of the causeway (as you enter the park from downtown Vancouver) is Lost Lagoon. Beyond this is the seawall path. On the right side of the causeway is the route to Lord Stanley's statue, and even further to the right is the seawall path. The seawall path makes a loop around the park, which is why it's found on both the left and the right of the causeway.

To get to the rose garden, go to Lord Stanley's statue and follow the path on the left of the statue. You'll see the rose garden very soon. There are other ways to reach the rose garden, too. There are plenty of signposts in Stanley Park to show visitors where the different attractions are located. Gardeners, other park staff, and park visitors will almost certainly be able to help with directions as well. Maps of the park are posted in several places and are available at the information centre as well as at the Vancouver parks and recreation website.

If you visit the rose garden in spring (March to May) you won't see roses in bloom, but you will see beautiful tulips, daffodils, and other bulb flowers. You will also see beautiful cherry blossoms in late March and in April.

The Rose Garden in Spring

Nearby Attractions

The Shakespeare Garden

The Shakespeare garden is located next to the rose garden. It's an arboretum containing trees mentioned in the writings of William Shakespeare. Each of these trees bears a plaque containing the relevant quote.

The garden is a nice, shady place on a hot day. It's interesting to explore the area and see trees that wouldn't normally live in the park. Hunting for the plaques can be fun, too.

The Stanley Park Pavilion

If you walk from the rose garden behind Lord Stanley's statue, you'll find the Stanley Park Pavilion. The pavilion was established in 1911. The building has a rustic appearance and houses a restaurant, a bar and grill, a gift shop, and banquet and wedding facilities. The landscaping in front of the pavilion is very pretty and includes a pond. The area attracts lots of photographers.

The Rock Garden

The rock garden is located next to the landscaped area in front of the pavilion. It has an interesting history. It was created by John Montgomery, a master gardener, between 1911 and 1920. It seems to have been a labour of love. For some reason, part of the garden became untended, overgrown, and forgotten. In 2006, a very serious windstorm swept through Stanley Park, felling many trees. As sad as this event was, it did have one advantage. The felled trees exposed remnants of the former extent of the rock garden. The area has now been cleared and replanted.

Getting to Stanley Park

Many roads lead from downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park. The park is within walking distance from the downtown area, assuming a person is reasonably fit and mobile. In addition to the roads, there is a lovely pedestrian and cycle path that travels beside Burrard Inlet from downtown to the park. Bus service is available, too. The park contains pay parking areas for vehicles.

To reach the park, head along any road that heads west from the downtown core. In Vancouver, it's easy to identify the direction in which you're moving, at least on a reasonably clear day. Just look for the mountains—they represent north. In fact, they're called the North Shore Mountains because they're on the north shore of Burrard Inlet.

The tennis courts at the end of Robson Street; part of Lost Lagoon and the North Shore Mountains  can be seen in the background

The tennis courts at the end of Robson Street; part of Lost Lagoon and the North Shore Mountains can be seen in the background

A Route for Walkers: Robson Street

I often take the SkyTrain (a rapid transit system) to the downtown area and then walk to the park from there. One of my favorite walking routes to Stanley Park is along Robson Street, which is a popular road in downtown Vancouver.

I get off the SkyTrain at the Burrard Street station and then walk up the hill (which isn't very steep) to Robson Street. This takes about five minutes. Then I turn right on Robson Street and walk to the park, which takes about twenty minutes at a moderately brisk pace.

Robson Street is a tree-lined road with many interesting little shops. It may be hard for a visitor to avoid exploring the shops on the way to the park. My downfall is the Whole Foods market. I find it very hard to resist going inside as I pass by.

The route changes from a commercial area to a quieter, residential area near Stanley Park. The road ends at the tennis courts beside Lost Lagoon. When I reach this location, I turn right and travel through the tunnel under the causeway.

At the end of the tunnel is a marina. On the left, there are several pathways. The one next to the water is the seawall route. On the left of this route is a path that takes me to Lord Stanley's statue. Just beyond the statue, on its left side as I face it, is the rose garden.

Canada Place and the Seaside Path

My other favourite route to Stanley Park is along the Canada Place to Stanley Park walking/cycling path. This route takes longer than the Robson Street one because it's not completely straight. It's very picturesque and offers many beautiful photo opportunities, however, especially on a sunny day. The path travels beside Burrard Inlet, so I can watch human activity on the water as I travel. The water, the mountains, and Stanley Park in the distance are lovely surroundings. Marinas, a float plane terminus, flower beds, a park, and restaurants can be seen along the way. The path ends at the marina in Stanley Park.

The path besides the inlet can be accessed in many places. The route starts at Canada Place. This is a large and attractive area that contains a pier with a promenade for walkers. In summer, it's also the terminus for cruise ships travelling to Alaska. The nearest SkyTrain station to Canada Place is the Waterfront Station. If a visitor travels to the west after leaving the station entrance, they'll find multiple ways to reach the seaside trail. Travelling along the sidewalk will also enable a person to reach the park.

A deep pink flower in the garden

A deep pink flower in the garden

Planning a Visit to Stanley Park

If you visit Vancouver, a trip to Stanley Park is a very enjoyable option. Since there is so much to see at the park, it's probably best to visit only a few sections each day, unless you have only a single day available for exploration. If this is the case, you'll have to choose the parts of the park that you'd most like to visit.

A bus trip to the park can be planned with the help of the TransLink website. The trip planner on the site enables a person to enter their starting location and their destination and then displays the transit route.

The City of Vancouver website has downloadable maps of the park. I‘ve provided a link to the site in the “References and Resources” section below. The site also has lots of information to help you make a decision about which parts of the park to explore. In summer, you should definitely consider visiting the beautiful rose garden, preferably with a camera of some type. It’s a lovely place to explore and photograph.

References and Resources

  • The Canadian Encyclopedia has an article about Lord Stanley.
  • The TransLink website has a trip planner app to help people plan a route. Translink is the organization that runs the public transit system in the Vancouver area.
  • The parks and recreation section of the City of Vancouver website contains useful information about Stanley Park.

Questions & Answers

Question: How far is the Stanley Park rose garden from Seattle, Washington?

Answer: The distance between Seattle and Stanley Park is about 245 km or 152 miles. The rose garden is located not far from the main entrance to the park. Driving time from Seattle is said to be around two hours and fifty minutes. The time depends on how long it takes to cross the Canada-United States border, how much traffic is on the roads, and the exact starting point in Seattle.

Question: Can we do pre-wedding photography in the Stanley Park rose garden in Vancouver?

Answer: I checked the City of Vancouver website and it said that no permit is needed to take wedding (or pre-wedding) photos in a city park. I think the only objection that anyone would make is if the photography creates a major obstruction for a long time. Other than that, I think taking wedding-related photos in the rose garden is a great idea.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

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