Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

VanDusen Gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia

Last weekend we visited Vancouver, British Columbia, just for a couple of days. Our weather on the first day of travel was wonderful, warm and sunny. But the second day it deteriorated back to cold and drizzly. We still managed to see some sights, on a trolley bus tour. It was too wet and cold for a visit to VanDusen Gardens on Saturday, but Sunday was a bit warmer and not quite as wet (still cloudy) so on Sunday, we stopped there on our way back home.

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 55-acre garden in the heart of a rather posh section of Vancouver, with 7,500 kinds of plants. The site was originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1966 the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Association formed to purchase the site and ensure that it was not developed for housing. Work on the garden began in 1971, and it was opened to the public in 1975.

I started out taking pictures of specific plants and beds. The area nearest the garden shop, where you buy your ticket and enter the garden, has smaller scale beds and a more intimate feel. It wasn't long before I realized, however, that this garden was built for long views. Vistas. Outlooks. What's around that curve? What's beyond those trees?

My well-thumbed, well-used map of the garden

I did get quite a few lovely close-ups of specimen plants, which I'll include in a future post. But for now, just come with me and look around. I'm hoping I can give you a feel for this lovely garden, but none of my pictures really does it justice. I took over 200 pictures that day, and only quit because my battery ran out of juice.

The Laburnum Walk (actually it continues around the bend to the right), unfortunately, just past the peak of bloom

This curving path will look and smell wonderful when all those lavenders bloom!

This amazing bed was so much bigger than it looks, some of those clumps were the size of a wing chair.

That Gunnera across the pond was the size of a pickup truck. I actually saw it from much further away, through some trees, and it drew me onward

The Grotto, dark and mysterious

The Grotto roof

Emerging from the other side

That's not the same Gunnera. Not the same pond either.

Also a different pond

Yet another pond (this one had an island in the middle of it)

Maze entrance

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this visit with me. I had left Nigel waiting for me in the car while I explored (don't worry, he had a book and was not even aware of the passage of time). But when I returned to the car, Nigel couldn't help commenting on my big smile.


  1. Alison, this was another marvellous outing. I am so pleased you managed to visit this beautiful place after all. All of your pictures are lovely, but there were a few that stood out especially for me. I am going to revisit this post a few more times to take it all in at leisure. Were you brave enough to enter the maze on your own? I have never been through one, but suspect I might feel claustrophobic. Scrolling backwards, the 6th last picture really captured my imagination. It is an amazingly beautiful capture. Of course, anywhere with waterfalls, streams and ponds is mesmerising to me and I really loved the picture you took of the four people sitting on a bench enjoying the view across one of the ponds.

    I hope you managed to suss out everything you wanted to in preparation for your 30th Anniversary Arctic cruise in's not so long to wait now. You must be getting very excited :)

  2. Oops! That should be Alaskan Cruise ;) Just returned for another stroll through the garden. The huge weeping tree drooping so low over the walkway is gorgeous. I also loved the archway with the pink rose casually tumbling off to the side. So much that is eye catching here! The size of the plant clusters you described is incomprehensible. They are raising giants. Wonder what they feed them with?

  3. I loved seeing the pictures of this garden. I haven't heard of it before. We're overdue for a trip up there and this looks like a great place for me to enjoy the gardens and the kids to explore. Glad it dried out some for your visit there.

  4. I so love going on garden tours with you. My only trips are to see family and our vacation is always at home doing projects (don't get me wrong I love being home). Without you I would never have seen these things. Thank you. I will put that garden on my bucket list.

  5. And now all of your readers are smiling. What a fabulous place. I love those huge Gunneras and that waterfall is gorgeous. I don't think I'd want to leave.

  6. That brings back wonderful memories of times spent at Van Dusen. Our nursery used to compete in the Garden Shows there. Loved every back breaking, sun scorching, dripping rain moment of it.

    And funnily enough, we were just about to go and visit there last weekend.

    Great shots, glad that you enjoyed it.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.