Vancouver – Day 3

Part of a great art display at Van Dusen called Touch Wood.

Part of a great art display at Van Dusen called Touch Wood.

Day 3 of the JC Raulston Arboretum excursion to British Columbia lived up to the high bar set by our first couple of days with incredible gardens and fantastic tours.  We started early with a visit to Van Dusen Botanical Garden.  On my last trip to the area (almost a decade ago now!) this garden really blew me away.  There were some big changes including a 22 million dollar, LEED certified visitor center.  Beryl, curator for Van Dusen, took us on a tour of the grounds with some of her colleagues and treated us to a 2 hour in-depth look at the collections.  The grounds were spectacular, much as I remembered them.  The mixed borders of perennials and subtropicals were especially showy.

Barred owl at Van Dusen.

Barred owl at Van Dusen.

Beryl, the curator at Van Dusen, gave a fantastic tour with a couple of colleagues.

Beryl, the curator at Van Dusen, gave a fantastic tour with a couple of colleagues.

The heath surprised me with flowers in August.

The heath surprised me with flowers in August.

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A lovely container at Van Dusen.

A lovely container at Van Dusen.

The dome of the Bloedel Conservatory.

The dome of the Bloedel Conservatory.

After a quick lunch we headed the short distance to Queen Elizabeth Park and Bloedel Conservatory.  Vancouver has way more than its fair share of parks and botanic gardens and our 2 garden visits were only a half mile apart.  The tour of the conservatory was given by a parks intern named Dan.  Dan had not been working in the conservatory for long but gave a great tour anyway.  The internship program is a highly competitive one that lasts 4 years giving the interns a chance to work throughout the parks system.

The obligatory Gunnera shot that us east coasters can't resist.

The obligatory Gunnera shot that us east coasters can’t resist.

The surrounding Queen Elizabeth Park has a great arboretum but their quarry garden is the real showstopper.  Since it can be viewed from above.  The colorful annuals, perennials, and conifers combine combine for a breathtaking display.

The color and texture is great.

The color and texture is great.

The incredible quarry garden at Queen Elizabeth Park viewed from above.

The incredible quarry garden at Queen Elizabeth Park viewed from above.

I'm not sure the bike dates to the Ming dynasty.

I’m not sure the bike dates to the Ming dynasty.

The final garden for the day was the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Museum.  Unlike the other gardens, our guide was not a plants-person instead Sue explained to us the life in a Ming dynasty (~1350-1750) scholar’s household.

Our guide Sue was fascinating describing the symbolism of the garden and house.

Our guide Sue was fascinating describing the symbolism of the garden and house.

Perhaps my favorite thing Sue told us was an old Chinese proverb:

If you want to be happy for 1 hour, get drunk.

If you want to be happy for 1 year, get married.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime, get a garden.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is surrounded by the city.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is surrounded by the city.

Stone, plants, water, and man-made structures are the four elements of a classical Ming dynasty garden.

Stone, plants, water, and man-made structures are the four elements of a classical Ming dynasty garden.

Since we were already in Chinatown, a dinner at a dim sum restaurant was a no-brainer.  The Jade Dynasty served us a mountain of dim sum, barbequed duck, Chinese broccoli, mushrooms, and beef with tangerine rind.  A fantastic end to a great day.

Dried gecko in Chinatown - no, they don't eat it like a lollypop, it is used to make a tea.

Dried gecko in Chinatown – no, they don’t eat it like a lollypop, it is used to make a tea.

Follow me at @jcramark because life is too short for boring plants.

Check out all the happenings at http://www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum

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