Photo credit: Ted McGrath | Flickr
Vancouver's temperate climate and soft, plentiful rains encourage exuberant growth throughout the region. Gardens, parks and green spaces can be found all around Vancouver, further enhancing its natural beauty of mountains and ocean.
If you’re visiting Victoria, don’t miss The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island - internationally renowned and stunningly beautiful!
Bloedel Floral Conservatory & Queen Elizabeth Park
Location: 33rd Avenue and Cambie Street
Vancouver's Little Mountain, the city's highest point, is a 150-metre (500-foot) granite outcropping that, for years, was an industrial rock quarry. Now, it's the spectacular setting for the 52-hectare (130-acre) Queen Elizabeth Park, which is also home to the Bloedel Floral Conservatory. It gets more than six million visitors a year - second only to the much larger Stanley Park, and not surprisingly, the stunning surroundings and views prove very popular with wedding parties and photographers as well as with visitors to the city.
Queen Elizabeth Park opened in the 1960s, with the park's centrepiece, the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, opening in 1967. A huge glass bubble dome (officially a triodetic dome) the conservatory houses more than 500 plants, with an emphasis on exotic plants and birds, which fly past as you wander its circular, winding paths. Nearby is the park's Arboretum, with one or two of nearly all native Canadian trees, each tagged with the proper botanical and common name. Another huge draw is the park’s North Quarry Garden, which specializes in plants that prefer dry conditions and its focus includes oriental horticulture. A small-but-stunning rose garden is located on the park's south-western perimeter.
UBC Botanical Garden and Greenheart Canopy Walkway
Location: University of British Columbia
The oldest and one of the finest botanical gardens in Canada, the UBC Botanical Garden is really many gardens in one, each with a different theme and character. Spread over 44-hectares (109-acres), the gardens launch you on a trip around the botanical world. The BC Rainforest Garden, displaying more than 3,500 plants found in British Columbia, is just one of four gardens that represent British Columbia's flora. Other highlights include the Physick Garden, a recreating of a 16th-century monastic garden planted with medicinal herbs; the Food Garden: a tiny garden that is home to raised beds and more than 180 fruit trees, of which the harvest is regularly donated to the Salvation Army; and the Asian Garden, nestled in a second-growth coastal forest of firs, cedars and hemlocks, with fragile magnolias and more than 400 varieties of brilliant rhododendrons, including rare wild varieties.
The most recent addition to UBC Botanical Garden is the Greenheart Canopy Walkway, a 310-metre (1,107-foot) suspended path hanging from huge Douglas firs, Red cedars and Grand firs, many of which are over 100 years old. Walking between the platforms, visitors get a bird’s eye view of Vancouver’s coastal temperate rainforest.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Location: 578 Carrall Street, Chinatown
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a true retreat in the heart of Vancouver's bustling Chinatown, built in the tradition of a garden home of a Chinese Ming Dynasty scholar. This treasure of tranquility is all the more valued for its rarity - built in 1986, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is the first, full- scale classical Chinese garden built outside China. All components of the garden were carefully selected from nature or hand-built by skilled artisans in China. These 52 artisans brought with them all the materials and traditional tools needed to spend 13 months building this historical, architectural, and horticultural masterpiece in Vancouver.
Nitobe Memorial Garden
Location: University of British Columbia
Named for Dr. Inazo Nitobe, a Japanese educator, scholar and international diplomat whose personal goal was "to become a bridge across the Pacific," Nitobe Memorial Garden should be enjoyed at leisure. As you stroll along the garden's gently curving paths, note the care that went into the placement of every rock, tree and shrub: each element harmonizes with nature. Wander counter-clockwise, accompanied by the soothing sounds of the lake, waterfalls and tiny streams - the gardens move from a beginning through growth and change to an ending. Native and imported plants and trees, azaleas, flowering cherry, irises and maples provide colour the year round.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Location: 5251 Oak Street
When the Shaughnessy Golf Club moved a few kilometres south in 1960, the aim was to turn the 22.25- hectare (55-acre) course into a posh subdivision of sprawling mansions. But after locals lobbied the city, the grounds were purchased and turned into a botanical garden. Set against the distant backdrop of the North Shore’s mountains, VanDusen Botanical Garden offers a series of small, specialized gardens within the framework of the main garden. In the spring, the garden's Rhododendron Walk blazes with colour. Nearby, the hexagonal Korean Pavilion is a focal point for the garden's Asian plant collection. Sculptures abound throughout the space, and paths wander through 40 theme gardens, skirting lakes and ponds, crossing bridges and winding through stands of bamboo and giant redwoods. During the holiday season, don’t miss VanDusen’s Festival of Lights with over a million magical lights illuminating the garden.