While I love living in LoLo, I also love our proximity to downtown Vancouver, just a short ride away on the SeaBus, which opens up all manner of opportunities for field trips!

Last week, my wife needed to be downtown for an appointment near the hospital, and I decided to check out the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, located at 5251 Oak Street (between 33rd and 37th Avenues). Getting there was a snap as the Oak Street bus, which may be caught at the Cambie Skytrain station goes right past the park. (There is also free parking for those that drive.)

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Originally a CPR golf course, in the mid-sixties, the area was slated for housing development, but in the 1970’s, 22 hectares (55 acres) was set aside for a botanical garden which opened in 1975. The park features ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean, from Louisiana swamps to the Pacific Northwest, and it is a treat on the eye to wander the well-kept pathways. Make sure you take a brochure with the overall map as it it very easy to get turned around in the vast complex.

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Once inside the property, there are 50 distinct collections with 7,500 unique plant families. Obviously not everything is in bloom at once, and there is certainly enough diversity to allow for differing experiences throughout the seasons. Children will enjoy roaming the the maze of 3,000 pyramidal cedars. Many paved garden paths are fully accessible to wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers, while other smaller paths may wind through dense foliage, giving access to little grottoes and dells.

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Benches dotted here and there around the trails provide places to sit and contemplate the magnificent views while giving sore feet and legs a chance to recover for more exploration. The colours of the many plants are quite remarkable, and my eye was drawn to so much to see and photograph.

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Sprinklers were casting droplets that glistened in the bright sunshine, cascading down leaves and pooling like jewels captured in the folds and furrows of leaves.

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In one of the many ponds, a pair of Canada Geese shepherded their fluffy goslings among the lily pads.

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I look forward to my next trip back, perhaps in the fall, to see the differences in these magnificent gardens.

Some things to note:

  • April through September, admission is $11.00 for adults, $8.25 for seniors and youths (13-18), $5.75 for children.
  • Pets are not allowed (service dogs are an exception).
  • Smoking is not allowed.
  • Rollerblades, site boards, bicycles and tricycles are not permitted (strollers are fine).
  • Don’t pick the plants and don’t feed the wildlife.
  • For more info, see: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/vandusen-botanical-garden.aspx