It’s a bit of a ride from downtown on the no. 17 bus out to the garden, but I’m dropped of right at the garden’s entrance on Oak Street. On this lovely Sunday afternoon in early fall, the 55-acre garden is a natural choice for an outing. There are young parents pushing strollers across the wide lawns, courting couples holding private conversations in quiet nooks, and retired people chatting amiably as they stroll along the winding paths. Views of the nearby cloud-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the scene.
Summer’s horticultural glories have largely faded and most of fall’s are still to come, but I enjoy exploring the garden’s numerous collections. There are great swaths of plantings in rhododendrons, beeches, camellias, and other plants that do well in British Columbia’s rainy, benign climate. There are several areas which pay tribute to Vancouver’s large Asian population, including a Sino Himalayan collection, a stone garden, and a colorfully painted Korean pavilion. As I pass by the Elizabethan shrubbery maze, I hear the delighted shrieks of children running on the other side of the tall yew hedge.
After exploring the west side of the garden, I make my way eastward, stopping to appreciate the bright red berries hanging in great clusters on mountain ashes. Then, after taking only cursory notice of a rather nice collection of dwarf conifers, I hurry on to the delights ahead -- a series of small ponds and lakes. The mahogany reds, burnished oranges, and clear amber hues of Japanese maples are reflected on the surface of Heron Lake, and it’s little wonder that a number of people have stretched peaceably out on the lawn near the water.
With little time remaining before I must take the bus back to meet my friend for dinner, I press on ahead, skipping several no doubt noteworthy sections devoted to specific geographic regions. There seems to be an area devoted to just about every place on earth in this garden; you can pick a spot on the globe and find a fairly representative garden here.
But the highlight, for me, is at Livingstone Lake. There, sunlight plays over the mists from a fountain, forming a faint rainbow. Set on its own small island and framed by the rainbow’s arc, a Japanese maple’s artistically twisting boughs form the perfect object for quiet contemplation.
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October 12, 2008
From journal The Best Place on Earth: Vancouver BC
March 7, 2008
From journal First Time in Vancouver?
October 12, 2004
From journal Vancouver Reflections