VanDusen Botanical Garden

This spectacular 22-hectare (55-acre) garden in the heart of Vancouver has matured into a botanical garden of international stature since opening to the public in 1975. The mild Vancouver climate allows the cultivation of an outstanding plant collection which is a delight any time of the year. VanDusen’s collection includes 11,500 accessions representing more than 7,300 taxa (plant families) and 255,000 individual plants from around the world. Our plant collections represent ecosystems that range from tropical South Africa, to the Himalayas, to the South America and the Mediterranean, across Canada’s Boreal forests and Great Plains to plants native to our own Pacific Northwest.

The garden design features displays of plants in picturesque landscape settings. Specific garden areas are planted to illustrate botanical relationships, such as the Rhododendron Walk, or geographical origins, as in Sino-Himalayan Garden. These areas are set amidst rolling lawns, tranquil lakes and dramatic rockwork with vistas of the mountains and Vancouver cityscape.

There is always something interesting to see, no matter what the season!

VanDusen Botanical Garden provides an inspiring and enjoyable environment for visitors of all ages and interests. With its excellent collections and the beauty of their display, the Garden promotes knowledge and understanding of the world of plants and their fundamental importance to life.

  • +History

    In 1910, this site was an isolated acreage of stumps and bush. It was owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was leased by the Shaughnessy Golf Club from 1911 until 1960 when the golf club moved to a new location. The railway proposed a subdivision, but was opposed by many citizens. In 1966, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association was formed to assist the Vancouver Park Board with saving the site. This effort was successful and the land was purchased with shared funding from the City of Vancouver, the Government of British Columbia and the Vancouver Foundation with a donation by W. J. VanDusen, after whom the Garden was named.

    Development started in 1971 and VanDusen Botanical Garden officially opened to the public on August 30, 1975.

    Landscape development was under the direction of W. C. Livingstone from 1971 to 1976. Curator Roy Forster managed the Garden and was responsible for much of the planting design from 1977 to 1996.

    The Floral Hall and Garden Pavilion were designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson and Smith with Herb Wilson, designer and architect. The award-winning Forest Centre was designed by Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners with Paul Merrick, design architect. This building is currently used by the education department and not open to the general public.

  • +Governance

    VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Tropical Conservatory are owned by City of Vancouver and jointly managed by it (through the Vancouver Park Board) and the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association (VBGA), a non-profit registered charity. The two managing partners have different roles and responsibilities.

    The Vancouver Park Board is responsible for administering and maintaining the Garden and Conservatory. The VPB staff numbers approximately 40 under the leadership of a Garden Director. It is responsible for generating revenue through admissions and rentals of the Garden and its various facilities. The Park Board oversees the lease arrangements with the two separately owned and operated restaurants on VanDusen’s site. Staff departments that fall under the Vancouver Park Board include:

    • Gardening Staff
    • Maintenance Staff
    • Front Office Administration
    • Admissions
    • VanDusen and Bloedel Shops
    • Facility Rentals
    • Event Management

    The VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, a registered non-profit charity, is governed by an elected volunteer board and has 10 permanent staff positions under the leadership of an Association Director. It currently has 8,500 members, and 1,453 active volunteers fulfilling 1,600 volunteer positions in support of the garden. It is responsible for the following programs:

    • Education (adult courses, family programs, summer camps for kids, lectures)
    • Fundraising (both annual and capital)
    • Marketing and Media Relations (for the Garden plus all its events and programs)
    • Membership
      Volunteers (docent guides, plant sale volunteers, seed collectors, flower arrangers, compost sale, Information Desk)
    • The Yosef Wosk Library and Resource Centre

    VBGA Governors sit for a two-year term and can be elected for a maximum of three consecutive terms.

    VBGA Board of Governors (2014-2015)

    President – Christine McCaffrey
    1st Vice President – Rich Hankin
    Secretary – Tony DuMoulin
    Treasurer – Rowland “Rolly” McLeod


    Thomas Ciz
    Terri Clark
    Dolf DeJong (On leave)
    Vicky Earle
    Jean Hurst
    Susan Jamieson-McLarnon
    Norene Kimberly
    Stéphane Mouttet
    Michael Murgatroyd
    Margaret Lord
    Ewa Opalinski
    Janet Rhodes
    Desmond Rodenbour
    Don Zarowny

    Bill Manning – Interim Garden Director (VPB)
    John Coupar – Park Board Chair and board liaison to the VBGA
    Patrick Lewis – UBC Botanical Garden
    Hedy Dyke – BC Landscape & Nursery Association
    Jill Wright – BC Master Gardeners Association

Visitor Centre & Discovery Hall

Visitor Centre

When you visit VanDusen you’ll first be greeted by the award-winning, ‘Living Building’ Visitor Centre. Opened in 2011, the Visitor Centre is designed to excite, educate and inspire our visitors about the world of plants. It’s a vibrant meeting place for culture and social activities, and also a remarkable piece of architecture.

Shaped like an orchid when viewed from above, its organic lines echo the way nature and conservation have been considered at every turn. The building is widely recognized as a pioneering structure in green design—and is LEED Platinum certified.

Living Building

Designed by Busby Perkins + Will and landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the structure has been created to meet the ‘Cascadia Living Building Standard’—the most advanced measure of sustainability in the building industry. When it was built, Living Building elements had been attained in many projects around the world, but not all together. Today, only four buildings have met the standard and VanDusen’s Visitor Centre is in line to join their ranks.

Behind the ‘Living Building’ concept is the belief that humans need to move to a state of balance between the natural and built environments. These buildings are water independent—100 percent of the building’s water use comes from captured precipitation or reused water that is purified without chemicals. All energy is supplied onsite by renewable sources.

To this end, the building currently employs a number of energy efficient systems, including a rainwater cistern for toilet flushing and onsite sewage disposal. As well as a solar hot water system on the roof, there is a high-profile 11.52 kilowatt solar photovoltaic array on four custom pole mounts in the parking lot.


  • Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies, BC.
  • Five Vancouver Regional Construction Association awards
  • Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia award in architecture, merit level by the Architectural Institute of BC
  • 1st place in the inaugural World Architecture News Engineering Awards (UK)
  • In Canada, the Cascadia Living Building Challenge is operated by the Canada Green Building Council in concert with the International Living Future Institute.

Discovery Hall

Before exploring the Garden, pause for a moment to enjoy the Discovery Hall. This space is home to travelling exhibits, art shows and special seasonal displays such as the Lego Village at Festival of Lights. The Discovery Hall is free to enter, along with Truffles Café, VanDusen Garden Shop and the Yosef Wosk Library and Resource Centre.