The Stanley Park Rose Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia
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 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, and inline skaters 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 this article were taken by me during my visits to 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 can walk on the grass so that they can get a close-up view of the roses and other flowers. The roses bloom in summer, but there are also colourful flowers to see in the spring and fall. The garden 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 Garden
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 Stanley Park are posted around the park 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 blossom in late March and in April.
The Rose Garden in Spring
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 tree 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 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
There are many roads that lead from downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park. The park is within walking distance from downtown, assuming a person is reasonably fit and mobile. In addition to the roads, there is a lovely pedestrian 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. 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.
A Route for Walkers: Robson Street
I take the SkyTrain (a rapid transit system) to the downtown area and then walk to the park from there. One of my favorite routes to Stanley Park is along Robson Street, which is one of the most popular roads 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. 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.
Another Route: 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, but it's very picturesque and offers many beautiful photo opportunities, 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. There are marinas, a float plane terminus, flower beds, a park, and restaurants along the way. The seaside path ends at the marina in Stanley Park.
The path besides the inlet can be accessed in many places. The starting point for the route is Canada Place, however. 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.
Canada Place is located near the Waterfront SkyTrain station..
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 City of Vancouver website has downloadable maps of the park. It 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.
© 2013 Linda Crampton