Warm weather and long days bring Vancouverites outside to play—and there's no better time for locals to explore the city’s top walkable gardens.
Staring out the office window at blues skies, hearing the ticking of the clock, waiting for that moment you can leave work and get out into the non-fluorescent daylight—it’s sunny in Vancouver and we’ve been waiting all year for this. So don't waste another second. Get out to enjoy what these beautiful spots have to offer, before summer tourist season sets in and selfie-stick crowds take over all our favourite spots.
Here’s just a peak at what you’ll discover as you meander through our city’s unsurpassed gardens:
Cost: $14 Adults / $10 Youth
Hours: Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
There’s a reason this tucked away green-space was named the World’s Top City Garden by National Geographic. Find a quiet nook of the garden to sit and soak it all in, and you'll find yourself transported to another time and place. Located in the heart of Chinatown this beautiful garden was the first of its kind outside of China, an authentic interpretation of Ming Dynasty-era tradition, displaying the Taoist philosophy of yin and yang. The garden was formed in 1986 using 14th century methods, and no power tools or modern materials were used. Take time to enjoy the garden’s tea service before or after walking around the koi fish filled pond, miniature trees, and customary tai hu rock formations - it's an undeniably soothing experience.
Hours: Monday to Sunday 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Vancouver's self-proclaimed horticultural jewel, Queen Elizabeth Park, is home to expertly maintained quarry gardens that are updated seasonally with specifically selected ornamental flowers, trees and shrubs. Situated between the Bloedel Conservatory and the duck pond on 33rd Ave, the gardens are a local hotspot for weddings and ceremonies. A walk through the decorative landscaping will take you to the highest spot in the city at 152 metres above sea level. Not very high for a city surrounded by ski hills, but it makes for a spectacular view of the gardens below and the north shore mountains in the distance.
Hours: Monday to Sunday 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The Kiwanis Club was onto something when they created the Stanley Park Rose Garden in 1920, demonstrating the possibilities of rose culture in Vancouver. June and July are the best months to see the Rose Garden —you'll smell the rose-scented air before you even see the rows and rows of yellow, red, orange, white, and even purple roses (hello Instagram heaven!). Sitting on a blanket eating lunch under a shade-tree in the grassy field of the garden after walking through a rose-trailing arbour-covered pathway will make time stand still—just the pause needed on a busy day. Like recess, for adults. Stanley Park gets bonus gold stars for maintaining different themed gardens, like the lesser known Shakespeare Garden (my favourite because it’s just a group of trees mentioned in Shakespeare plays and poems), the serene Japanese Canadian War Memorial Garden, and the formidable Stanley Park Rock Garden—the first public garden in Vancouver, built in 1911.
Cost: $15 Adults / $7 Youth
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Established in 1916 with the guidance of British Columbia’s first provincial botanist, John Davidson, this is Canada’s oldest university botanic garden. The original mission of the garden was research into the native flora of B.C., and has since grown to include education, conservation, and community outreach programs. It's home to temperate species of plant life like a display of climber vines, so strong and winding they make you want to wander deep into the jungle, build a treehouse and never come back to civilization. The Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese strolling garden with an authentic tea house is hidden inside as well giving it an Alice-in-Wonderland feeling that makes it worth the trek out to UBC.
Cost: $11.25 Adults / $8.45 Youth
Hours: Monday to Sunday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
A gardener’s dream, Van Dusen features 55 acres of botanical delight, incorporating art and sculpture in a subtle approach that is both comforting and reassuring. Located in Shaughnessy, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is known for it’s colourful floral blooms in wide varieties and hosts a Master Gardener program with participants eager to grow the best of the best. Each section of the garden has a distinctive floral smell, and completely different feel. Have a picnic on the Great Lawn next to the Sino-Himalayan garden with sloping terrain to mimic the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and view the rare Himalayan blue poppies, in season right now for a short time. Walk forest-like maple tree lined paths or post up by the peaceful lily pond for an afternoon of reading or writing. It's easy to relax in this beautiful garden.
Don’t miss taking a stroll throughout one (or all!) of these sprawling garden hotspots before it’s too late to enjoy them in the splendor of late spring and early summer. Otherwise...see you out there next year?