Remembering the Van Dusen Flower & Garden Show

Almost seven years ago Kent and I went to Vancouver to visit my friend Laurel and we all went to the Van Dusen Flower and Garden Show.  Little did we know that early June in Vancouver is, according to Laurel, more like November!  So, it was drizzly and cold — not the right kind of weather to be pleasantly wandering through incredible garden displays … like this one …

I want a truck just like this one to drive around in between clients’ gardens!   I know you’re looking at the delphinium, but did you notice the watering can fountain in the foreground?


I don’t know what this thing was but it was huge (like everything in the tropical rainforest that is British Columbia) and it was encircled with plantings!  It represented all that this garden show was:  larger than life and fancifully, over the top!  Notice the fleece jackets everyone’s wearing…

Look at this (flower)bed with a quilt made of blooming echeverias.  The area around it is fashioned with coreopsis, variegated english ivy and what looks like orange cosmos.   Do you see the pendulous trumpet flowers of datura in behind with Peter Rabbit looking on ?…

This garden looks like its a take on Monet’s garden at Giverny, with its trademark blue walking bridge.  The soft pink flowering spires look like a form of ornamental mullein, maybe Verbascum ‘Helen Johnson’, and the rest of the bed is filled with blue fescue grass (Festuca glauca, possibly ‘Elijah Blue’) and trailing purple verbena.


Lots of purples, powder blues and chartreuse — the colour combination that remains popular years later.  Here you can see purple coral bells, a golden smokebush, purple elephant ears, hosta, grasses and some tender plants (like Alternanthera, Coleus and Canna).

There are some interesting specimens here:  the phormium is the spear-shaped foliage plant behind the hostas, there are some pinky-purple pitcher plant ‘flowers’ hanging down on the right and horsetail in the foreground.

Here was a miniature herb garden with everything neatly labelled; the silver plants are dwarf curry (in the centre), variegated sage (on the right) and pineapple mint (on the left).  This is the kind of thing that can be replicated in a small, sunny garden.  But — beware the mint!  It will soon overtake everything else, even within a short time.

Here’s a living roof with rabbit ears!?

There were also artisans selling their wares like these fountains made from cast and colour tinted Gunnera leaves (giant rhubarb).

And nurseries specializing in unusual and beautiful Japanese maples … grrrr….. ;c)

And show-stopping bonsai!  This one is not for sale; it will be very old and if it was for sale, it would be very expensive.

And a vast array of succulents — these are all hardy and can either be transplanted back into the garden or stay in their winter-proof pots through the winter, if they’re kept in an unheated room, with some protection if the temperatures get too low.  You don’t want the roots to freeze!

Even my friend Jack Willoughby from Anvil Island Design was there!  I carried his amazing steel sculptures in my store.

Laurel tells me that this show is no longer going and that now Vancouverites travel south for the show in Seattle instead (this year its the last week in February).  I’ll have to see how many air miles I have……

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