As far as spring traditions go in Vancouver, there’s one that can’t be beat. Like clockwork on the Last Sunday of April a steady line of gardeners grow. Dressed in their finest rubber boots and windbreakers, prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them. They are ready for the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Plant Sale!
The wait is long, with the front of the line showing up hours before the gates open. A smart move as the back of the line winds through the parking lot, spilling out onto Oak street. Huddled under hoods & umbrellas to avoid the rain, these plant geeks use their time to pour over the sale’s catalog. Highlight their must have, gotta gets & oh boy did you see?!
The reward for their patience isn’t tickets to a rock concert or the newest and latest phone, but rather an opportunity to get ahead of the pack & get their pick of plants before the thousands of anxious gardeners fill in behind them.
How do I know these truths? Because I am one of them. I top the list of the eager, the prepared and the most enthusiastic plant geeks out there, and I’m proud of it!
Once the sale has opened I race in with the others to find a breathtaking sight. A sea of unique & rare plants stacked neatly on tables all across the great lawn. Manned by an army of volunteers & Master Gardeners. They wait, ready and prepared to help their customers demystify those Latin names and plant conditions while scoring a killer deal for their gardens this season.
Once my cart is full (and that REALLY doesn’t take long) I make use of their hold section and head back to the sale with my camera to see what everyone else is buying. I love watching gardeners use their creativity and determination to load their carts and bins with more plants then you could imagine.
The best part (Besides the plants of course) are the smiles. Gardeners are a very particular type of people. Always willing to pitch in and help carry your load, grab you a plant or show you where they found theirs. It’s always a pleasure to look around the sale and see all of the happy customers, faces full of grins and quiet pride.
After people watching for a while and with my hold tickets saftley tucked away, I took the garden up on its once a year free admittance and went for a garden walk.
While all of Vancouver’s gardens are beautiful in the spring, no spot is more captivating to my lens than VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Blending richly planted landscapes, thought provoking art exhibits and endless education opportunities, the garden offers more than just an escape from urban sprawl. It offers a chance to re connect with nature.
The rain came and went, bringing with it the fresh aroma of spring. It didn’t seem to bother the gardens guest. All across the garden families and friends were wandering the paths, taking in the pleasures of spring. I wasn’t the only one being encouraged around another corner with the warm sprinkle of rain and the allure of vibrant spring blooms.
It was as if we’d stepped into a painting.
With a flush of new foliage emerging in the canopy above Heron lake, the Maples have begun to fill out. It was under those graceful arms that I saw one of VanDusen’s newest families. A pack of goslings and their Mom out for a swim. Looking for bugs while gliding across the lake, they spent most of their time poking their beaks under the lily pads while showing off for the garden visitors. Such fun, I stayed to watch for a while.
As I continued on my garden walk, poking into flower beds and keeping my eyes open for turtles, I found another family of ducks navigating the creek that leads from Livingstone Lake to Cypress Pond. I watched with a group of ecstatic children as the goslings followed their Mom right over a waterfall. What spunky little puddle jumpers!
At the bottom of the waterfall, they made quite a ruckus as they came upon a turtle sunning itself on the rocks. The turtle made no mind of these exuberant young ducks. Although I’m sure he was rolling his eyes and muttering, ‘teenagers’ under his breath.
Goslings….. it seems they’re thrill seekers. Who knew?!
The gardens were a great place to spend the day after a long wait in line at the Plant Sale. When I was finished chasing after fuzzy little ducklings I made my way back to the Great Lawn, picked up my holds and paid for my plants at the cashier.
It was another spectacular day to be in the garden.