Kim Lee

VanDusen Botanical Garden

With 8,000+ beautiful plant species that are sure to captivate you at VanDusen Botanical Garden, it’s an exciting time to visit the 55-acre property.

VanDusen’s wildlife area is a great place to get up close and observe local animals, or you can explore the maze if you’re feeling adventurous. You can also have a chalet evening, dine on the patios of cafés/restaurants, or shop at the themed gift store.

In 2014, one of the Garden’s facilities was awarded the most sustainable building of the year, thanks to its natural-looking design that maximizes efficiency. It resembles an orchid from above and pays close attention to nature and conservation.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Brief history of VanDusen Botanical Garden

In 1966, a group of gardening enthusiasts created the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association (VBGA) with orders to lobby and advocate for a public botanical garden. This effort later became what is now VanDusen Botanical Garden, replacing the former Shaughnessy Golf Course.

The VBGA founded the Garden in 1975 and after 38 years, they extended their relationship with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation by also becoming a joint operator of the Bloedel Conservatory.

The Park Board’s responsibilities include the management and upkeep of the facilities at both parks as well as marketing and special events. The VBGA is a volunteer branch that takes care of educational programming, the library and resource centre, social media, and membership.

The Garden exists because of the founders, their legacy, and all the hard work by volunteers over time. They’ve achieved all this thanks to passionate supporters, donors, volunteers, partners, and staff.

In 2015, the board of directors voted to pursue accreditation under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. These are 73 core governance standards and there are other standards to go with them including those for financial management, fundraising, and volunteer engagement.

Getting to VanDusen Botanical Garden

With quick and easy access from anywhere in the city, you can’t miss VanDusen Botanical Garden. The location is at 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver, V6M 4H1.

The parking lot is located off of West 37th Avenue, with free and convenient spots available. A nearby drop-off loop is also available.

What features does the Garden offer?

1. Food

As one of the best fine dining restaurants in Vancouver, Shaughnessy Restaurant has a tranquil garden setting. The menu has some delicious options for any palate, and the staff is friendly and accommodating, too!

They are open for lunch, afternoon meals, dinner, as well as brunch. The patio, though, is open seasonally.

You also have access to Truffles Fine Foods Cafe, VanDusen’s casual cafe in the Visitor Centre. Truffles offer locally-inspired food, beverages, and coffee, with outdoor picnics being very common during the summer.

With 58 inside seating and 40 on the patio, it offers an award-winning view of not just the Garden’s entrance area but also Livingstone Lake.

2. Plants & Wildlife

The Garden contains a wide number of animals and plants for visitors to explore, including the incredible wildlife that is found in their natural habitat.

Visit the Garden to experience a variety of plants, from perennials and annuals to shrubs and Coastal BC native plants. There are ferns, vines, rhododendrons, and many more. Specific options include styrax obassis, hedychium spicatum, and ginkgo biloba.

You can also take a closer look at the birds, turtles, geese, ducks, fish, etc., in their natural habitat – but remember to respect their wildness by not feeding them!

3. Tours

Guided tours are the best way to navigate and enjoy the Garden, but they’re suspending all tours temporarily due to COVID-19. Apologies for such inconvenience and we’ll update this page as soon as the situation changes.

Visitors with mobility impairments can opt for an assisted tour but this has also been suspended because of the pandemic. And not just guided or assisted tours, the suspension has also affected cart and group walking tours.

As for self-guided tours, inquire at the Information Desk if you’re looking for self-guided tour pamphlets. These pamphlets highlight the plants or plant families that are blooming in any given month.

4. Shops

With two of Vancouver’s best seed collectors stores, the Garden has something to offer everyone. You can even access VanDusen Seed Collectors Store and Garden Shop at VanDusen Botanical Garden online.

VanDusen Garden Shop always has new, trendy items along with the usual products, located next to the Visitor Centre. They have a range of garden-related books and accessories on sale, as well as souvenirs and tools.

VanDusen’s Plant Patio has rare and unusual plants for your garden. Some of them are propagated in-house or collected by VanDusen’s Seed Collectors from plants that grow in the Garden.

The VanDusen Volunteer Seed Collectors have been working since 1982—taking care of their seeds and selling them. The collectors started selling seeds online in 2002 and offer all sorts of plants.

New harvests make the best seeds, which they collect, clean, prepare, and store for maximum viability. All the collected seeds will contribute to conserving plant biodiversity and increasing environmental sustainability. They do that by using a system to prevent pests.

The Garden offers seeds online and at a few events throughout the year. The proceeds will go towards education and other projects going on in the Garden.

What special events are held at the Garden?

  • VanDusen Great Eggciting Easter Hop
  • Luxury Supercar Weekend
  • VanDusen Glow in the Garden
  • All British Field Meet
  • Sakura Days Japan Fair
  • VanDusen Festival of Lights (an enchanting garden awaits visitors, with 1+ million light decorations, tasty treats, winter-themed areas, holiday music, and more – the event is from Nov 26 to Jan 3)

Special events have a different admission rate than general hours. Coupons and discounts do not apply, and admission vouchers cannot be used. 

How does the Garden operate?

For Jan, Feb, Nov & Dec, visit the Garden from 10 am to 3 pm. When you visit from March to October, your window extends to 5 pm. The landmark is only closed on Dec 25.

What are the admission and membership fees?

You can either pay for a one-time admission into the Garden or opt for the year-round membership program (valid for a year or two).

As for the admission fees, your expense will depend on your age and when you visit. From Oct 1 to Mar 31, adults pay $8.40 while seniors pay $5.90. Teenagers and children are charged $5.90 and $4.20 respectively.

If you happen to visit Apr 1 – Sep 30, the prices change accordingly:

  • Seniors (65+) – $8.20
  • Adults (19-64) – $11.70
  • Teenagers (13-18) – $8.20
  • Children (5-12) – $5.85

Infants and VBGA members are admitted for free, no matter when you visit.

When it comes to memberships, you’ll need one with the VBGA. You get to enjoy year-round general admission to VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Conservatory (excluding special events).

You also get special discounts on garden courses, family programs, summer camps, and education classes. You also get offers at select garden nurseries and stores, and for VanDusen Garden and Bloedel Conservatory special events.

Memberships are valid for 1-2 years from the date of purchase. You can’t transfer the membership and or get a refund.

  • Individual Membership: $45 for a year or $81 for two, designed for a member aged 19-64.
  • Individual Plus One Adult Membership: $67 for a year or $120.60 for two, designed for two adult pass-holders.
  • Individual Plus One Child Membership: $56 for a year or $100.80 for two, designed for an adult and a minor aged 4-18.
  • Family Membership: $88 for a year or $158.40 for two, designed for one or two adults alongside 2 minors.
  • Family Plus Membership: $88 for a year, designed for one or two adults alongside 2 minors, plus a $10 extra charge per child. The fee varies for 2 years.
  • Premium Membership: $120 for a year, designed for an adult plus a guest of any age. No 2-year plan.

You can claim some discounts if you’re a senior or student. Both categories receive 15% off the above prices – you only need a valid ID to verify. Students must be 18 years or older, and be admitted to any higher institution.

Note: These figures do not include tax. The minimum age to visit without an adult or guardian is 13. Senior or student discounts do not apply to the Premium Membership. 

Points to Note

  • At VanDusen, visitors can enjoy the garden year-round. Facilities and sidewalks are wheelchair-accessible, so your mobility won’t stop you from admiring all that it has to offer. Or, you can opt for guided cart tours – just book early.
  • Paths in the Garden can be bumpy and uneven. If you’re using walking aids, make sure to take care and go slower.
  • The numerous washrooms are also accessible by wheelchair.
  • There are also Safety Points for people with limited mobility or poor eyesight. On the map, these are marked with a blue dotted line.
  • Please avoid smoking in the Garden and keep to the pathways. Explore this beautiful green space with caution so as not to damage plants.
  • While pets are not welcome, you can bring your working or service dogs.
  • Baby strollers are permitted on the premises but skateboards, rollerblades, and cycles are not allowed.
  • Refrain from trampling vegetation or damaging plant labels.