Established in 1916 the University of British Columbia (UBC) Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden at a Canadian university. Covering over 110 acres, the garden is filled with over 8800 plants and includes an Alpine garden, a Physic garden, an Asian garden, and plants native to the west-coast.
Although having lived most of my life in the lower mainland I had never visited the garden and now that I’ve been once I can’t wait to visit again. Begin your walk by taking the Upper Asian Way to the Moon Gate. Visiting in the spring the pathways will lead you past camellias, rhododendron bushes, cherry blossoms, and magnolia trees.
The garden is divided into two main sections…the Asian gardens, along with the old growth forest area, and then the newer planted areas which you will find after passing under the Moon Gate and through the tunnel.
On this other side you will find the Alpine garden, a Garry Oak garden, a Physic garden and a Food garden. This area of the garden would be better visited in the summer months when more of the plants were in bloom, however I did still find some pretty flora and greenery to photograph.
The Physic garden was so fascinating. The word ‘physic’ originally meant ‘natural’ and this garden was planted to show people the importance of plants that have been used over time as medicine, and the healing properties that so many plants have. Physic gardens were first constructed by European monks in their monasteries after they discovered the healing properties of plants from Greek herbal books. Each plant in this garden, with traditional plants from medieval Europe, has a sign with its Latin name and the properties of the herb.
An interesting fact about this garden is that the initial plantings were seeds that were donated by the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, England.
After spending some time on this side of the garden I made my way past the Garry Oaks and back through the tunnel to the Greenheart Treewalk.
The Greenheart Treewalk is a canopy walkway that takes you as high as 23 meters above the ground. Walking on the aerial bridges over a distance of 300 metres you can gaze around at the old growth forest made up of Douglas firs and cedar trees. This area was originally logged, but done in a sustainable way so that a variety of trees were left to grow into a thriving coastal forest.
Make sure and take your time as you walk along the suspended cabled bridges, as well as at each of the platforms. You may be lucky enough to spot woodpeckers, owls and eagles high in the treetops.
Unlike many other canopy walkways that may use bolts, the bridges here are suspended by cables that “hug” the trees and stabilizers that “kiss” the tree as the suspension increases. Make sure and look for these unique adaptations that have a minimal impact on the trees.
Once you have finished enjoying the treewalk, make your way back along the Lower Asian Way trail towards the exit. There are also plenty of smaller trails that will lead you deeper into the forest as well as to some quiet glades.
The UBC Botanical Garden is located along SW Marine Drive in Vancouver. You can find out more about the garden and what events are happening by visiting their website here. At the end of your visit make sure and check out the gift store which has an amazing selection of books, plants, and gift items.
UBC is located on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Musqueam Peoples.