Wednesday, November 17, 2010

VanDusen Botanical Garden, Part 1

Would you believe we visited the UBC Botanical Garden, Southlands Nursery and VanDusen Garden all in the same day? Can you say 'botanical marathon'? My husband is a very good man to put up with (and support) such plant fanaticism!

When it comes to posting about a visit to a garden such as the VanDusen Botanical Garden I’m always torn between editing down the pictures and doing a single post or giving you the full deal and breaking it into two days worth. Since I seem condemned to be the person who takes 10 minutes to tell a 5 minute story I’m going the 2 day route.
VanDusen Botanical Gardens opened to the public in August of 1975. The garden covers 55 acres and has 7,500 kinds of plants from around the world. At the entrance to the garden is an educational display entitled “What is a Botanical Garden” it explains that unlike parks and display gardens, botanical gardens are living museums with scientifically organized, labeled, plant collections. Gardens like the VanDusen are continuing a tradition over 400 years old. I especially liked the labeled cuttings placed under the sign; they are plants that of current interest in the garden. Like the Camellia japonica 'Jupiter' in bud.
And the amazing Coprosma brunnea. Look at those berries! They had a bit of an iridescent sheen to them.
Interestingly when I went to look this plant up to learn more about it I discovered that the VanDusen sells seeds online! Check this out (click on the link)….you can order seeds for $4.25 Canadian! They also have a nice little description and cultivation information as well as the actual calendar date of seed harvest. God I love the internet. Unfortunately there is this tidbit:

"Please Note: Since May 2006, the US Department of Agriculture has required that US citizens obtain permits to import seeds under their 'Small Lots of Seed Program.' Information about the permit process is available online here. For some time we tried to work with this requirement, but most US customers found the permit process too daunting, and cancelled their orders. Therefore, we have reluctantly discontinued shipping seeds to the US." Damn.

I miss the Teasel that grew along the river banks in the park behind my previous employers building. It was an unexpected surprise to see it growing here. I thought it was considered a weed.
I had forgotten about seeing this Agave attenuata on the Dandelion Wranglers blog (she did a story on VanDusen and the agaves crept into one of her pictures), and was quite shocked to see them planted in the ground.
This is one of the most tender of the agaves and there is no way (in my opinion) they would make it through a Vancouver BC winter in the ground even with protection. Talking with a volunteer I later learned they are pulled from the ground and overwintered in a greenhouse.
The beautiful Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Red' was growing nearby.
The grasses were putting on a nice fall show.
I felt bad we didn’t have anything to feed the fishes (the husband says they’re Carp).
Yucca harrimaniae, or Spanish Bayonet.
Entering the Southern Hemisphere section of the island, you are greeted by a giant Gunnera.
I think the Amaranth were happy to see me (sorry).
Puya berteroniana.
And a striking silver Puya that I couldn’t find a sign identifying.
Lobelia tupa, isn't it a beauty? Like I said yesterday I think next year I’ve got to get one of these.
Arbutus unedo, or the Strawberry Tree.
Beautiful bushy Echium.
Gomphocarpus physocarpus or, yes you guessed it, also known as Hairy Balls.
The ants were crawling all over their distinctive flowers.
Eucomis, I’m not sure what type.
And oh my…the tree ferns!!! They were simply amazing. I forgot to ask how they overwinter them but there must be wrapping involved. I can’t even begin to imagine how wonderful it would be to have these in my garden! These are Dicksonia Antarctica.
And this is a Silver Tree Fern, or Cyathea dealbata.
Sequoiadendrons (I love how that word rolls off the tongue).
And with the fall color shot I end Part 1, please do come back for Part 2 tomorrow!


  1. so many great plants that seem to be popular with plant geeks right now. Echium, coprosma, lobelia, spikey things...

    that Coprosma was really neat! I'm really interested in that genus. I have the popular 'Evening Glow' which I'll be trying to overwinter and the gothic 'Black Cloud' which I got from the fall plant sale and which should be hardy.

  2. All of this is so pretty and lush looking. Beautiful Hibiscus and I'd say that Amaranth was a little excited by your presence.

  3. Hairy balls! Lol! I;m glad you enjoyed VanDusen! I can't believe how many gardens you got in, all in one day!

  4. tee hee hee, I think I might revert to teenage-hood while walking through this garden. So many amusing plants to giggle about!

    And that one with those white iridescent berries, wow! I think that's beautiful. Need to look that one up to see if it will grow in my area!

    Thanks for the delightful post :)

  5. Thank you so much for visiting us and for your wonderful post. I have linked to it on the Garden's face book page. The photos are fabulous.
    Nancy Wong
    Director, PR & Marketing
    VanDusen Botanical Garden

  6. Ryan, you are way ahead of me! To my knowledge this is my first exposure to Coprosma. Sometimes I can be a little slow to come around to the non-spiky plants.

    Darla, "lush" is the perfect word to describe it. I hope to someday visit in high summer too.

    Laura, since that particular day was the only one forecast to be sunny and dry during our visit I was on a mission to see it all!!!

    Beth, a brief excuse to return to teenage-hood is a good thing right?

    Nancy, thank you! And thanks for the FB link!

  7. Just saw your hairy ball pic (I've been kind of a blog reader/poster slacker lately). Awesome! Annie's calls it the Family Jewels Tree, but I like Hairy Balls Tree better :) Not sure where we'd put it, but I really want to bring one home.


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