Vancouver is a bastion of natural beauty – Pacific Ocean, Coast mountains, lush rainforest – but the city’s exquisitely cultivated gardens need not be overlooked. Here’s your spring garden bucket list:
- Set amidst the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first classical Chinese garden built outside of China, and has been named the Top City Garden by National Geographic Traveler. In addition to a tranquil pond, covered walkways edged by vibrant greenery, complimentary hot Chinese tea and materials entirely imported from China (including fossil limestone rocks from Lake Tai), the garden hosts events year-round – the latest is an exhibition of Chinese woodblock prints titled Voices in the Smoke.
- VanDusen Botanical Garden, located in the elegant Shaughnessy neighbourhood, features 22 hectares of plant collections that represent ecosystems ranging from tropical South Africa to the Himalayas to the Arctic, as well as plants native to our own Pacific Northwest. May and June are ideal for viewing the popular Laburnum Walk, the rose garden and the meadow garden. Currently, the garden is hosting Botanical Reflections, a travelling textile show celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.
- Sitting at the City of Vancouver’s highest point – 152 metres above sea level – Queen Elizabeth Park encompasses a number of display gardens, as well as golf, lawn bowling, tennis, an outdoor arboretum and the indoor Bloedel Floral Conservatory. The gorgeously cultivated Quarry Garden is often filled with couples posing for their wedding photos. Take a midday break with lunch at the elegant Seasons in the Park, featuring panoramic city views served alongside West Coast fare in a majestic wood-panelled room.
- Just a 20-minute drive outside downtown Vancouver, the University of British Columbia’s expansive campus is home to the UBC Botanical Garden. The space features distinct garden pockets, including Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese “tea and stroll” venue considered to be one of the most authentic in North America; visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in the Tea House before strolling among maple and cherry trees, azaleas and iris’, and meandering paths. Also a must-do: the Greenheart Canopy Walkway, a series of narrow platforms that soar 50 feet above the forest floor.
- Lush Stanley Park features an abundance of gorgeous flower gardens, all of which begin their riotous blooming in spring. The Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden encompasses 4,500 plants ringing the Pitch & Putt course – a perfect place to stroll post-golf. The garden is at its peak during the first two weeks of May. The Rose Garden features more than 3,500 rose bushes, as well as stylish arbour supporting climbing roses and clematis. And the Shakespeare Garden, located between the Rose Garden and the forest, pays homage to The Bard with 45 trees mentioned in his plays and poems forming an arboretum that leads to his monument.