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Vancouver’s 5 most beautiful gardens

UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden

Vancouver’s 5 most beautiful gardens

Vancouver is a looker. Not only is the outdoorsy city bookmarked by mountains and ocean, it's filled with sparkling green-glass skyscrapers, art-filled urban parks -- and gardens, beautiful gardens. There are lots of them everywhere, from the living roof on the convention center and colorful corner flower beds, to leafy green spaces like Queen Elizabeth ParkExternal Link Title and Coal Harbour's chic, bustling waterfrontExternal Link Title. But here are Vancouver's most lovely gardens of all.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical GardenExternal Link Title is sprawling, filled with ponds, waterfalls, sculptures and art, intimate little garden nooks, grassy knolls, and swaths of blooms. The splashy rhododendrons alone, flowering in April and MayExternal Link Title, are worth a visit. Over 55 acres, you'll findExternal Link Title lots of flitting birds, hundreds of global varieties of plants, formal gardens, mini forests, a vegetable plot, pavilions, and an Elizabethan hedge maze. Aiming to be a leader in biodiversity and sustainability, VanDusen also houses a sleek LEED-platinum visitor center, a light-filled structure of rammed earth designed with a living roof to resemble an orchid from above. An added bonus? The gardens are just as spectacular in winter, especially during the holidaysExternal Link Title, when the garden is illuminated with a million twinkle lights and festive displays -- a true wonderland. Spend a whole day, then browse the well curated gift shop and dine in the gourmet caf?External Link Title.

UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden

UBC Nitobe Memorial Gardens
The authentic Japanese Nitobe Memorial Garden includes a tea house.

Japanese gardens emanate tranquility. Such is the case at the University of British Columbia's Nitobe Memorial GardenExternal Link Title. On the lovely Point Grey campus, it is one of the most authentic traditional Japanese gardens in North America, and in the top five outside Japan. Created by architects and landscapers recommended by the Japanese government, "I am in Japan," commented the country's emperor when he visited. The 2.5 acres include a not-often-seen tea garden and ceremonial tea house, plus koi ponds, waterfalls, streams, and stone lanterns. Peruse the symbolic, intentional placementExternal Link Title of each tree and bush, and enjoy the harmonious effect. Especially stunning are the ethereal cherry blossoms in spring, purple irises in summer, and fiery maples in autumn. Learn the Way of TeaExternal Link Title or join a formal Tea CeremonyExternal Link Title.

Stanley Park Rose Garden

Some 3,500 bushes adorn Stanley Park's elegant Rose GardenExternal Link Title, a park favorite since the 1920s. It's a place where you'll want to spend a sunny afternoon -- on a picnic blanket on the grass enjoying the showy flowers in bright crimsons, pinks, yellows, oranges, purples, and peach. Stroll under the arbor to take in the divine scents of climbing roses and clematis. While you're there, check out the nearby Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron GardenExternal Link Title, too. Complete your day with a picnic in the park and a walk along the Seawall to Coal Harbour and Downtown Vancouver.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens, Vancouver
Chinatown's Sun Yat-Sen is as much community center as serene garden.

Historic Chinatown's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen gardenExternal Link Title, a city landmark, is an oasis of calm and a place to appreciate Chinese art and culture. Built for the city's Expo 86 world showcase, 53 craftsmen imported 950 boxes of materials to create an authentic classical Chinese garden, the first in 15th century Ming Dynasty style outside of China. It showcases 160 plant species over one-half acre with koi filled ponds, waterfalls, bridges, winding paths, and pavilions all enclosed by pristine white walls. Alongside pine, cypress, and bamboo, some penjing trees found here are more than 200 years old. Part garden, community center, museum, and gallery, locals cherish Sun Yat-Sen -- a National Geographic No. 1 city gardenExternal Link Title in 2012 -- and visit often for workshops, celebrations and events, such as the annual Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Moon FestivalExternal Link Title. Join them!

UBC Botanical Garden

The oldest at a Canadian university, the University of British Columbia's Botanical GardenExternal Link Title has been around since 1916. It's also delightful and educationally oriented -- with 7,500 plant, flower, shrub, and tree varietals -- and a picturesque forest and water and city view setting. The garden features a comprehensive collection of 50,000 plantsExternal Link Title from temperate zones around the world and numerous distinct gardensExternal Link Title, including arbor, formal rose, contemporary, Asian, alpine, organic food, herb, rainforest, North American, and physic (for doctors and pharmacists). If you feel so inclined, there are regular workshops, plus Q&A with horticulturalists, or join one of the many eventsExternal Link Title including the fall's popular apple festival, poetry in the garden, or the opera tea series.


And while you're in town, you must experience the city's jewel, Stanley ParkExternal Link Title. Larger than New York's Central Park, this beautiful space features an urban forest of old-growth trees, a huge network of trails, lakes, lawns, an ocean-view seawall path, restaurants, beaches, and flower-filled gardensExternal Link Title.

Discover more natural beauty at the Tourism Vancouver website.