“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world” John Muir.

Visiting beautiful gardens on a sunny afternoon is one of life’s great pleasures, especially if you are on holiday and have no time pressures. The VanDusen gardens in Vancouver are one of the world’s great gardens which are packed with inspiration. The VanDusen botanical garden is found in the heart of Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada with over 8,000 plants species and varieties from all around the world.

We visited on a hot day in July and were delighted with the huge variety of different areas to visit and tree lined avenues where shade helped to reduce the temperature a little. It is a large garden of around 55 acres, split into many different areas and smaller gardens. The Australia and New Zealand garden was full of unfamiliar plants but all were labelled, the Mediterranean garden was colourful, scented and in full bloom. It was astonishing how many of the plants were familiar, showing how lucky we are in the UK to be able to grow plants from many different regions of the world. The large lake at the beginning of the extensive gardens was buzzing with dragonflies and other insects, as well as ducks and of course Canadian geese!


Heron Lake

Heron lake and fountain

The trees in the garden were particularly spectacular, of special note a stand of magnificent Sequoia giganteum or Giant Redwood Trees, which almost have to be seen to be believed. They grow to more than 100 metres tall with deep reddish brown deeply incised bark, absolutely gorgeous!  Other stands of trees included many Douglas Firs a common sight on this coast but magnificent none-the-less and it is no wonder that plant hunter David Douglas brought specimens back to Scotland where they continue to provide shelter to splendid gardens there.


Giant Sequoia glade


Douglas Fir stand and other cedars

The heritage rose garden and the formal rose garden were full of people enjoying the different colours and scents of the loveliest of all shrubs. The heritage roses were beyond their best but we were still able to enjoy the scent of many of them by burying our noses into the final blooms.

The garden in Rhododendron and Azalea time must be splendid and floriferous, as there are many under plantings and areas of the garden known as the sino-Himalayan sector, which provided more shade for us. In addition to the shade there were a few remaining flowers on some of the magnolias, which are one of the special collections of the VanDusen gardens. I was particularly attracted to other small trees in the area, called Stewartia sp which have single open usually ivory coloured flowers and prominent stamens. They are edible, they are so lovely! 


Stewartia monadelpha


Cornus Kousa

The area around the visitor centre and restaurant is full of colour from the pink dogwood trees, the small formal pond complete with waterlilies in flower and a terrapin which amused the many children and families enjoying the gardens. Garden tours supported by some of the over 900 volunteers who provide work and assistance to the garden were available to take us around but we opted for a very welcome lunch break in the Shaughnessy Restaurant instead!

There was much more to see and had it been cooler, we would have continued the visit, but I can heartily recommend that if you are ever in Vancouver, this garden is a ‘must-see’ whatever time of year you visit. https://vandusengarden.org/


Some years ago Sarah visited the Rome Botanical Garden and her blog is well worth a read and indeed the gardens are worth visiting https://northleedsgardendesign.co.uk/a-tour-around-the-rome-botanical-garden/

We can’t promise to give you a botanical garden but you will have a garden where the planting is really well designed and suited to your conditions and those of the future climate conditions. Contact us to start designing your garden