Last night the Weather Channel said showers today; this morning it said Lake near the entrance partly cloudy in the morning, showers in the afternoon. So we decided we could be outdoors in the morning.
We arrived at the VanDusen Garden, one of several botanic gardens within the city, twenty minutes before it opened. It was cloudy but still dry. We admired the flower display on the patio, and waited for the garden to open.
Somehow, between the time we went inside to pay our admission and the time we stepped outside to start our tour, it started to sprinkle. We laughed about the predictability of Vancouver weather and stepped out to see the garden. We weren't the only visitors.
We had a yellow sheet of paper describing a Seasonal Walk through the Solitary magnolia Spring Forest; we were delighted with the descriptions and the beautiful flowers along the path. The early rhododendrons are in bloom, as are some of the magnolias. We only knew about the evergreen southern magnolia, with glossy dark green leaves and large white flowers, but there are deciduous magnolias, too, which are even more showy -- when the tree is in bloom there is nothing but flowers to see!
The Seasonal Walk took us passed some preening Canada geese, and a pair of mallards close up, accustomed to humans, next to a big field of different kinds of holly trees. Everything was carefully labelled. The yellow sheet of paper was getting a bit damp, but we soldiered on. At the end of the Seasonal Walk the path petered out in the field of Eastern North American trees. We Stone garden squished across the grass, resolving to stay on the paved paths.
We circled the Garden, through a planting of redwoods and another of maples, to the forest lake, where we spotted a blue heron grabbing a bite to eat; Then up into the Sino-Himalayan garden, with a stand of lovely white birch, along with currants, which have a string of tiny white bell-shaped flowers at the end of every branch.
We followed a path up a creek, past more rhododendrons, to the Stone Garden, with mossy boulders "planted" in the middle of patches of rounded grey beach stones. Down the hill was the Maze, which the schoolboys had just found.
A couple of particularly early magnolia trees had already shed most of Korean Pavilion their petals in a wide pattern over the blanket of wet brown leaves, and we walked along giddily trying to compose haiku to describe this beautiful scene.
The size of the trees like Douglas firs was surprising, since the Garden is only about 30 years old; it was once a private hilltop golf course which closed when the city grew too close. The Vancouver Garden Club, the City, and Whitford VanDusen put up the money to purchase the land and turn it into a public garden.
British Columbia is famous for its gardens, and the VanDusen gave an impressive start to our garden tours. We might have walked a little longer if the rain hadn't increased in intensity, but we're learning to appreciate the local weather (and its forecasters.)