Friday, March 20, 2015

Van Dusen Botanical Garden

Since my world is covered in white these days I'm going to step back in time again and revisit a favourite garden.


While I was in Vancouver last spring I managed another trip to my favourite public garden.  I volunteered at Van Dusen Botanical garden for a couple years and it has held a special place in my heart ever since.  It doesn't seem to matter what time of year I visit, there's always something to see. 


It was still early in the season when I arrived and many trees were only just beginning to show their buds but there was still more than enough flowers to keep me occupied for hours.  Spring blooms carpeted the garden and there was something to see in every corner you cared to look.  A large grove of native trilliums was particularly eye catching.  White trilliums are always beautiful to look at but red ones add some amazing contrast.


Bulbs were prominent on this trip.  I particularly liked this combination of soft yellow tulips, pink hyacinth and blue forget me nots.


Many spring blooming trees, like these magnolias, were underplanted with spring bulbs to great effect.


Early blooming Rhododendron shrubs were also putting on a great show.


One of the things about Van Dusen that always impresses me is the scale.  Public gardens can do things that would seem outrageous in a small garden.  Like artwork.  The sheer size, not to mention the quality, of the artwork was impressive.


This giant minotaur was woven out of wire and towered over us.  In the context of the large trees though it appeared perfectly at home.

A grouping of stone persons gathered in front of a grove of white birches also seemed perfectly natural. 


In the heather garden a series of white figures gazes at you from across the hillside.



I don't expect I'll be putting any large sculptures in my garden in the near future but I really enjoyed seeing them here.  It really emphasizes the idea of scale and context.  Plant according to the size of space you have.  A large space can accommodate and will look more natural if large trees and gardens are planted.  Small sculptures will go unnoticed in a large space so take note of the context and place your art accordingly.

What is your favourite public garden?  Are there any garden lessons you've learned from visiting another garden?

20 comments:

  1. I love visiting large public gardens. I always come away with an idea. Of course as you say everything in these gardens are done on a large scale but It is usually easy to scale down an idea. The plants are always an inspiration in these gardens. You can see what mature plants look like. This is a beautiful garden. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. You're welcome Lisa, I love Van Dusen and I'm always glad to share photos from there. How right you are about viewing mature plants. I like seeing that too, as well as how plants are used together. I've gotten some great ideas about plant combinations as well.

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  2. It looks like a magical place. I hope to see it one day. We go to BC every year but fly directly to Victoria which also has beautiful gardens.

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    1. I hope you do too Alain, it's a wonderful garden. I think I visited Butchart gardens in Victoria as a child but I have no real recollection. it's a place I wish I had visited when I lived on the west coast.

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  3. Hi Marguerite!
    I would love to visit this garden and also the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. I hope spring comes soon to you.
    Wishing you a beautiful weekend,
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

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    1. Thanks Linda, I hope spring comes soon too! I never attended the cherry blossom festival but the city really does come alive with these trees in spring.

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  4. You must be itching to see the garden again under all the snow etc. I recently got to a visit Bodnant garden with my sil, a fellow gardening fanatic. They had wonderful carpets of bulbs under some lovely mixed planting of shrubs and trees, and unusually lots of it one could see transferring (albeit on a smaller scale) to a more modest garden. Not so the vast valley with carefully architected cascades and forest of rhododendrons!

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    1. Very very itchy Janet. I had to google Bodnant and wow. the Italianate terraces might be hard to replicate in my garden but wouldn't that be just wonderful if I could!

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  5. Marguerite girl ... I'm so sorry about all the nasty weather you are going through over there .. and it is supposed to be the second day of Spring?
    Love these pictures and the discussion on sculptures in public gardens .. Yes the larger than life truly contrast with the plantings wonderfully.
    I like to add touches of obelisks (obsessed with them in fact) plus Japanese Maples .. then little touches that make you stop and look, especially something in an iridescent blue .. bang that pop of colour picks up why size leaves off.
    Wonderful pictures ... a relief from all this white outdoors !
    Joy

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    1. haha Joy, I had noticed your Japanese maple obsession. You do it well though, you are a whiz with colour in the garden. I notice that in your photos all the time. I'm going to keep that comment about irredescent blue in mind for the future.

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  6. A seriously pretty garden! I hope spring comes you way soon.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Thanks for visiting Amalia. I hope spring comes soon too!

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  7. When the weather is nasty it´s wonderful to review favorite gardens visited. Van Dusen Botanical garden looks so nice, spacious and natural. I love sculptures, but on the right place, as you say these are for large parks and gardens. I wonder if Van Dusen Botanical garden is situated on Vancouver Island.
    The Trilliums white and red, are really eyecatching. I tried them once in the garden but with no success.

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    1. Hi Janneke, Van Dusen is located in the city of Vancouver. Although Vancouver Island has its fair share of lovely gardens as well. I haven't had success with trilliums either, I just have to admire them from afar.

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  8. Hi,
    I love the red Trillium. I have never, ever seen one. Thank you for sharing.
    We have a carpet of white Trillium in the woods where I grew up. I just love the area.
    One of my favorite Public Gardens is in Duluth, Minnesota.
    Carla

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    1. Glad to show you them Carla. You don't see them very often but they are completely natural. My mother had them in her garden as well. Very pretty flowers, especially mixed with the white. I must look up Duluth, I know the name but honestly am not sure exactly where it is.

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  9. It was good to see Van Dusen again...I've missed it since we moved. Gardens up here a little lacking, compared to that. Did you ever go to the Van Dusen Garden Show? The nursery that I worked at won silver and then the gold medals for best garden display...my favorite year.

    Jen

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    1. sure have, I volunteered at the Garden Show one year! Miss that garden, they had so many great events to attend. Like you we're lacking in public gardens around here.

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  10. The trilliums are beautiful! When we lived in PA we used to visit a couple of parks that had big swaths of white trillium. The flowering magnolias look amazing too. I love the blue of the forget-me-nots. There's a locally famous garden about an hour away from us that belong to twin sisters (they are 100 years old this year!) that uses forget-me-not as a groundcover and it looks wonderful.

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    1. I love forget-me-nots too. Such a simple groundcover and overlooked I think. There's a house not far away from us, the ground is coated in blue forget-me-nots under mature birch trees each spring. It's stunning.

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