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We are introducing a brand new series of Photo Essays! Have a look at amazing Photo Sets all shot by talented photographers. Explore the vibe of the city, its hidden treasures, explore Vancouver! This time, let's have a look at Vancouver through the lens of Kevin Wang!
A Green Oasis of Peace: The VanDusen Botanical Garden
More things grow in the garden than the gardener knows.
One of the city's most serene places, the VanDusen Botanical Garden (named after local lumber worker and philanthropist Whitford Julian VanDusen) has served the public since 1975. If you love flowers and gardening, you will definitely fall in love with VanDusen. It's a perfect place to take your date or if you need a quiet place to sit and enjoy the beautiful flowers and landscaping. The VanDusen Botanical Garden is located in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood at the corner of 37th and Oak Street, just a short bus drive from downtown (the number 17 drops you off by the entrance). Before 1910, this site was just full of stumps and bush and owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, which leased it to Shaughnessy Golf Club from 1911 until 1960. The Vancouver Park Board saw their chance to save the site, and the City of Vancouver purchased the land. Why so many people prefer this smaller garden to the much bigger and more opulent Butchart Gardens in Vancouver?
The mild Vancouver climate allows the outstanding collection of 11,500 plants and trees that are a real pleasure to visit any time of year. On the garden's 22 hectares, you'll find different ecosystems from all over the world — tropical South Africa, the Himalayas, or the Mediterranean. All without the need to travel outside Vancouver! Behind all this beauty is the collaboration of approximately 1,600 volunteers, nine full-time gardeners, and seasonal interns who are all devoted to taking care of this special place.
It's remarkable how quiet the garden is even though it's right in the middle of the city. The visitor centre features a specialized reference library (the new building with LEED platinum standard opened in November 2011), a gift shop, a seed library, a restaurant, and Truffles Café with a nice selection of sandwiches and quiches. If you crave more than just a snack, you can grab lunch in Shaugnessy, which is a great restaurant near the entrance. When you're planning your walk, you'll be pleased to know that you have more options: walk by yourself, take a free walking tour with a friendly guide, or sign up for a cart tour (these carts are the last remnants of the garden's former function as a golf course).
While you can see most of the garden in about 30 minutes, why rush? We suggest reserving two to three hours to look closely at all the flowers and their thorough botanic labels with information about each specimen. Walk over bridges where ducks swim among the water lilies and turtles sun themselves on rocks. Special features of the garden include totem poles, large stone and wooden sculptures, and a Korean Pavilion — explore them while the kids enjoy playing in the giant maze. There's a cypress pond and a seasonal heritage vegetable garden. When you grow tired of all the paths, there are many benches to relax on. This is also the perfect place for a picnic!
The VanDusen Gardens organize some special events during the year that aren't to be missed — especially the VanDusen Garden Plant Sale and the enchanting Festival of Lights in the winter. Everyone who has attended in the past will tell you that this is a must-see.
Our tip: If possible, visit the gardens on a weekday. Even in July, which is the peak season when many visitors and tourists swarm the city, it will probably not be as crowded as it is during weekends.
Address: 5251 Oak Street
Have a look at the other Vancouver garden that will take your breath away with its beauty, Bloedel Flower Conservatory.
Meet the Photographer
Kevin is a Vancouver based photographer who does not limit himself to specific genres of photography. He believes in the notion of “less is more”, where minimalist compositions are more effective at telling stories. Photography has inspired and trained his eye, and has greatly helped him in his other fields of work such as 3D animation and movie visual effects.
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