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Saturday I was a bit of a bad girl. (If you’re picturing red bustiers, black fishnets and stilettos it’s not that bad, but hey, let’s humour me here!) I was all set to head out for a day of back-breaking, weed yanking, show no mercy pruning, and all round “let’s clean up this mess before it gets away on us again this year”gardening, but a friend called and wanted to go play. What the heck….it was one of those perfect Vancouver spring days that seem to be few and far between. The sun was bright, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, no cold breeze, and it was Easter weekend. Can you say “excuse”? Sure you can! So we decided to go visit an old haunt that we’ve neglected for far too long. One of this city’s hidden gems. VanDusen Gardens. Hooray! I knew I wanted to do a new blog post, and trust me, I knew there would be no shortage of garden porn on this trip. So camera in hand, we headed out for a great afternoon.
VanDusen Gardens is located in the middle of the city of Vancouver, but once you enter the garden, you feel like you’re a million miles away. The land was originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. They rented it out to Shaughnessy Golf Course from 1911 until 1960, when Shaughnessy moved to a new location. The gardens opened to the public in August of 1975, and now this 55 acre space is home to over 255,000 plants from around the world. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit the garden, there is always something amazing happening. They also have a charming restaurant called “Shaughnessy”, and a perfect little gift store, full of books and garden inspired goodies. The gift store opens onto a little patio area, where they have a small but inviting display of plants and other garden decor waiting for you to take home. (After paying, of course!) So the first stop of the day was to check out the offerings outside.
Once we headed out into the garden, there was no end to the surprises that awaited us. There were lots of areas where nothing much appeared to be happening, but there’ll be sights for us to see there on future visits. We did notice the hostas (cheesecake for slugs) ready to unfurl; big, high magnolia trees looking startling against the blue sky; beautiful ground coverings, such as the white trillium and fresh green clover patches accenting tall bamboo spikes. Some of the old, twisted vines (maybe wisteria?) looked interesting, and various types of Fritillaria were certainly glorious and just coming into bloom.
Seeing this beautiful garden certainly provided me with a refresher course in the delight that texture can bring to a garden scene. Even without colourful flowers, texture can create interest on its’ own. And of course we had to check out the maze. When our families were younger, my friend and I would come here with our husbands and kids for picnics. We would set out the quilts near the stream, where the young ‘uns were endlessly entertained by the running water, and by the mysteriousness of the maze. Needless to say, the kids loved the turtles as well, although I doubt the feeling was mutual. One was even out sunning itself, posing for my camera, so slow that even I could get a picture of it!
Winding down our tour of the garden, we were once again impressed with the height of the magnolias. Camellias then made an appearance, the perfection of their flowers nearing an end. Other trees in bloom sent out tiny snow showers with every hint of a breeze. Winding up back at the restaurant, I had to snap a close up of the sweet angel in the fountain. A little refreshment awaited us inside. What a perfect way to spend a sunny day on an Easter weekend. We’ll definitely not wait so long for a repeat visit!
See you again soon, my little cherub!