My Birthday in the Garden. VanDusen style.


I celebrated my 30th birthday this past Tuesday. Yep, I’ve done it. There’s no going back. I’m now officially old. This works okay for me. I’ve been old for a long time.
Honestly, three of my biggest interests in no particular order are: Gardening, Old Stuff (antiques, architecture, you name it!) and Politics.

See. I’ve been old for some time. Finally, finally! my age has caught up!

So when asked what I wanted to do for my 30th birthday, and with the realization that getting to Ottawa & back all on Tuesday just to watch Question Period from the gallery, just wasn’t really feasible (sigh) I turned to one of my other favorite things. A walk in the garden. VanDusen specifically.
When I was there early this spring for the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Annual Plant Sale I didn’t get much of a chance to poke around the gardens. Mostly because by that point I had a van loaded with plants. It was a warm muggy day. I feared having trays full of wilting plants by the time I got home. I couldn’t stay long. I promised myself I’d come back further into spring, and bring the kids.

It’s such a beautiful place.
The weather worked in our favor. Tuesday was the only full sunny and warm day we have had this week. Looking out my window now, it’s rainy, dreary & cold. Nothing like my birthday, where we were reminded that summer is coming!
The kids enjoyed poking around the main lakes. We found turtles basking in the sun, and the koy found us. Hoping for a snack I’m sure. Better luck next time fisheys!
Over at the Rose Gardens, we found lots of roses already in bloom, although by the looks of it a week or two more and the garden will be a perfusion of petals.
It’s enough to make me want to go rose shopping! I’ll resist.For now.
One of my favorite spots in this garden is their herb garden right off the Shaughnessy Restaurant. I love their use of space, and the beauty of the herbs. Who needs flowers when the spices and herbs look this good?
We wandered up towards the great lawns. Saw an interesting art exhibit. Honestly we couldn’t stay at it too long. My eldest kept trying to try on the low hanging clothes. Argg!
So instead we poked around the Perennial gardens.
And then found some shade to sit. With a patch of wild flowers growing near by it was the perfect place to stop for a picnic!
We enjoyed our bagged lunch (Go Diego Go style!) and then let the kids run free through the grassy lawn while we watched a hawk circle overhead.Once the kids had exhausted themselves we moved on. Checking out some of the tree’s near the Korean Pavilion.
This pink columnar tree was stunning. It was very thin, and went almost straight up. We searched for the tag, and when we finally found it we were disappointed to find it blank. Does any one have any idea what it could be called?Another flower that got me excited on this trip to the garden was the mass of Himalayan Blue Poppies that they had growing towards the waterfall.
I love this flower, and have only seen it in bloom in person once before. But never in this quantity. It was stunning! My poppy at home has still never flowered. I hear that’s common with the Himalayan poppy. That they take many years before they settle in to flower. It is definitely worth the wait!
From there we found our way to the base of the waterfall. A great spot to rest and enjoy the crashing water. I had an urge to spend half the day in that spot. If only I had my tri pod with me…long exposure, oh yes!
But that’s for another time. Today we had things still to see. So up, up, up we went.Wandered past the Stone Garden we caught an amazing view of the Hedge Maze! The kids were thrilled!
We had some good fun wandering this maze. Three time in total. If the kids had their way, it would have been more 🙂 Here they are pretending to be lost, har!
In the centre of the maze was a beautifully kept Monkey Tree. I love these tree’s they are so funky!
Every bit of them is unique and beautiful!On the other side of the Maze there was a lovely orchard area, and a bunch of bee boxes to encourage those little pollinators! Buzz buzz buzz!
The Vegetable gardens were starting to fill out! It was fun to watch the school kids wandering through here. Listening to their exclamations as they read the tags and poke through the rows. It’s nice to see that so many schools are taking their kids on trips like this. Maybe these kids will go home and bug mom & dad to plant a veggie garden.
Every kid should have one. Big or small, potted, in raised beds or deep in the dirt. We need to get these kids back to growing and cooking their own food!
Despite the slow start to our summer season, their beds were filling in nicely! Their summertime bounty will be massive! Good news for the restaurant !There was a lot we didn’t see. It’s such a large garden. We will have to make it back later in the season. It was a fabulous way to spend the day with the family!

Did I mention kids under 6 are free. With this place you are definitely getting full bang for your buck!

Update: A reader has noted in the comment section that my pink tree was a Toona sinensis. Yay! Mystery solved! has it described as:

Tall, deciduous tree with brown bark that peels. Foliage is fragrant and pink when juvenile, maturing to creamy yellow and then bright green. Pendent panicles of fragrant white or greenish white flowers bloom in midsummer. Also known as Cedrela sinensis.

Wikipedia (I know. Before you say it, I rolled my eyes too.) also notes that it has edible qualities.
The young leaves of T. sinensis (called 香椿 in Chinese) are extensively used as a vegetable in China; they have an onion-like flavour. The fruit, bark, and roots are used in traditional Chinese medicine for a wide variety of conditions. Plants with red young leaves are considered of better flavour than those where the young leaves are green


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18 comments on “My Birthday in the Garden. VanDusen style.

  1. Stevie from on said:

    Hey Laura, happy belated birthday! I can't agree that you are old now, because that would make me old too :). Glad you had fun at the gardens. Your family is gorgeous by the way.

  2. Fern @ Life on the Balcony on said:

    What a beautiful place! I love the pots with the bog plants in them, what a neat way to grow those plants!

  3. Carrie on said:

    I would take my kids…but I fear Amelia would destroy their gardens…have you seen my ghetto fencing around the veggies?? :)BTW, you might know this: how can I tell if my radishes are ready to be picked?

  4. Laura on said:

    @Stevie when the 'kids' today start dressing in clothes that you make fun of yourself in while flipping through old pictures, then your old! Seriously though, the 80's? Again? Really?@Fern I loved those pots! The bog plants were cool! Turquoise is by far my favorite pot colour!@Carrie there is so much room for running around, that she's not likely to destroy much! Radishes are generally done 5-6 weeks after you sowed the seeds. Here's a good video on harvesting them!

  5. danger garden on said:

    Happy Birthday! And thanks for adding another 'must see' to my list for the next time we venture north!

  6. Marguerite on said:

    Happy Belated Birthday!! Looks like you had a wonderful time. Thank you for posting all these photos, it brought back fond memories. I used to volunteer at Van Dusen and I miss my weekly visits.

  7. Rebecca @ In The Garden on said:

    Happy Birthday! I know exactly what you mean about turning 30, I also felt like my age had caught up to me. The blue poppies are magnificent, I inhaled quickly & audibly when I saw the pics. I have 2 plants that recently arrived and I HOPE to have blooms this summer. The turtles are a charming addition, what a beautiful garden! Al rescate, mi amigos! 😉

  8. Laura on said:

    @Danger Garden it's definitely 'list' worthy! There are so many reasons to visit Vancouver!@Marguerite no problem! I like sharing! We had tons of fun there. I can see that once the kids get a little older, and I get a little time back I will probably start volunteering there myself. No matter the time of year, it's just such a wonderful place to visit!@Rebecca fingers crossed for you. This will be my third year with no blooms so far. The plant looks strong & healthy, I thought for sure this year, but I happily keep waiting for that one amazing day…..

  9. socalgardening on said:

    Happy Birthday! And I love that exhibit of laundry! 🙂 I love your blog and the photos are of course, great!

  10. Heather on said:

    Ah, your only as old as you feel. Loved the journey through Vandusen, It has been way to long since I have been there. Happy Birthday!

  11. Laura on said:

    @socalgardening it was a pretty cool exhibit! It arced all over the place. Nearly covering the existing trellis/wisteria.@Heather thanks for the birthday wishes!

  12. Melanie on said:

    I lived in Vancouver for 7 years and I never went to VanDusen Gardens, maybe because at that stage of my life I wasn't in to gardening. You photos are very inspiring , the next time I'm in town I will have to visit VanDusen.

  13. Melanie on said:

    ps Happy Birthday:)

  14. Laura on said:

    @Melanie I know the feeling. We did the big gardens when I was little, but I have no memory of visits to VanDusen. It is only in the past 6 years that I have found a passion for gardening. So I am trying my best to get out to all the big gardens again, with a new set of eyes, as a gardener! Thanks for the birthday wishes, and for reading my blog!

  15. Garden Lily on said:

    Happy birthday! Ouch if 30 is old. 🙂 I love VanDusen too, I look forward to the spring plant sale each year as an excuse to visit.

  16. Mike on said:

    Happy belated birthdya, Laura! (belated – I had a woerful week so I'm just now catching up on reading the few blogs I enjoy reading.)I've never been to VanDusen Gardens…perhaps we should all make a family outing.

  17. Anonymous on said:

    the tall thin pinnate pink leaf tree that had a blank label is Toona sinensis. Have you discovered the Arisaemas (cobra lillies)?

  18. Laura on said:

    @Garden Lily, It's not really old. I just like to complain ;)@Mike Thanks! You should definitely go to VanDusen! It's a great place for the kids to run around and play!@Anonymous yes! I knew somebody would know! I did find the black tag, but it was blank on both sides. Just my luck, right? Yes I did see the Cobra Lillies, but the pictures I took of them just didn't turn out well enough to post. I could spend hours in VanDusen. There's so many little gems! Thanks for visiting!

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