Go for a walk in the Garden and discover the rich biodiversity that thrives here.
Explore our Native Plant Gardens featured inside four distinct habitats:
Cook Rhododendron Walk
Alleyne and Barbara Cook donated more than 100 special rhododendrons to the Botanical
Garden. The collection was moved here from the Cook garden in North Vancouver in 2013 and 2015.
Many of these are species rhododendrons – the wild types or species naturally occurring
in their native habitats, unlike the hybrids found in many private gardens. Many of the
understory plants also came from the Cook garden and were joined by woodland plants from some of our volunteers’ gardens.
Peak bloom usually occurs from mid-April to late May, but something flowers here almost every month of the year.
One of our four native plant gardens, this area has trees, shrubs, and perennials usually found in the sub-alpine regions of our coast. While these plants will thrive closer to sea level, care must be taken to provide the fast-draining growing conditions found on mountain slopes. The Pacific Rhododendrons (Rhododendron macrophyllum) in this collection were grown from seed collected in an area of Roberts Creek that was spared from logging activities. This is believed to be the most northern, naturally occurring population of Rhododendron macrophyllum.
The most established of our four native plant gardens, the grove contains plants you would find walking through our coastal rainforests, including ferns, perennials, shrubs, and trees well-suited to home gardens with shady conditions. Native plants are generally more pest and disease resistant than introduced species.
Garry Oak Meadows
The Garry Oak ecosystems found along the southern BC coast are disappearing due to rapid urbanization. Thus, the Garry Oak is considered an endangered species. The Garry Oaks in this collection are relatively young and won’t reach maturity for another 40 to 50 years. An open,
sunny location, lean soil, and sharp drainage are needed for these plants to thrive. Many of the spring and summer blooming annuals such as Sea Blush and Farewell to Spring will freely self-sow and provide years of colour.
Dragonfly Pond + Wetland
This pond is home to many species of amphibians, including the Northwestern Salamander, Pacific Tree Frog, Long-toed Salamander, and Northern Red-legged Frog, the latter a blue-listed species in BC. In spring, egg masses from these different species can be spotted along the edges of the pond. Hummingbirds will collect the fluff from bull rushes for nest-building and in the summer months, many species of Dragonflies can be found skimming the pond looking for a meal.
Censi Creek Ravine
The Welch Family Viewing platform offers a view into the ravine with its towering Big-leaf Maples along Censi Creek. The creek runs dry in the summer months, but the deep shade provided by the Maples protects the understory plants from hot, dry weather. In wetter months, Licorice Ferns can be seen growing from moss-covered maple trunks. These ferns go dormant in dry weather, to be revitalized by the fall rains. Early in the last century, the ravine was logged and the Maples were left, creating a unique habitat – a native plant reserve – which the Botanical Garden is protecting.
Look for fallen trees acting as nurse logs for new trees and plants.
This collection features trees, shrubs, perennials and ferns found in the Pacific Northwest, from northern California to Washington state.
It’s speculated that with climate change, these Cascadia species will become more common here, as some of our existing native plants continue their migration north.
To learn more about the plants found here in our collections, and throughout this region of British Columbia, visit the UBC’s e-Flora Directory (Electronic Atlas of the Flora of BC). or Great Plant Picks.
Use these resources to identify plants by species, genus or family, and learn of its origin and whether it is a species at risk.
Discover other features throughout the Garden – each one has its own story!
‘Allée’ is a term used in gardening to describe a walkway between rows of trees or shrubs. The two rows of Himalayan Birch trees in this allée are remnants of the tree nursery that used to occupy this site. The smaller trees were planted in 2020 to create the allée.
Salamander Pond + Paddy's Path
This naturalized pond provides habitat for at least four different amphibian species (Northwest Salamander, Long-toed Salamander, Northern Red-legged Frog, and Pacific Tree Frog) as well as a seasonal home for Mallards, Mergansers, and occasionally, Wood Ducks and the Great Blue Heron.
This pond is used extensively to host class visits for our school program. Paddy’s Path takes you around the pond and is named to honour one of our Garden Founders.
Alder Log Cribs
These cribs are constructed with Alder logs to hold leaves from our many deciduous trees. These leaves rest in these cribs and will break down over many months. The resulting leaf mold is then spread onto planted areas to improve soil health
Quaking Aspen Grove
This stand of Quaking Aspens is particularly well suited to our wet coastal conditions. All the trees in this grove (or clonal colony) are growing from a single root system, which comes from the largest tree in the grove. The Botanical name ‘Populus tremuloides‘ refers to the trembling of the leaves in the slightest breeze. This is due to an unusually shaped leaf petiole or stem.
This beautiful assembly of aspens is a rarity. Once common in the Fraser Valley, the species has almost disappeared due to land development.
Believed to be a stump of a Western Hemlock, it nurtures several kinds of native berries including Huckleberry, Black Currant, Salal, Salmonberry and native Blackberry, all nourished by the microbial activity that is breaking down the stump.
Branch + Twig Habitats
Found throughout the Garden, these stacked branches provide valuable habitat for insects and small animals and help to increase the biodiversity of the Garden.
Oak + Maple Meadow
Pin Oaks and Himalayan Maples are thr predominant species found here and offer some spectacular foliage colour in the fall.
The plant nursery and potting shed are used by volunteers to grow and tend plants for our plant sales. The large vegetable garden is run by volunteers who plant, tend, and harvest produce for the local Food Bank, donating more than 1000 lbs per year.
Emily Lasuta Learning Centre
This structure was funded by the Sunshine Coast Community Forest and Bill and Anne Marie Lasuta in honour of their late daughter, Emily. School groups use the centre as an outdoor classroom and for shelter when caught by unexpected rain.
Biodiversity starts in the
distant past and points
to the future.
A healthy ecosystem supports all life, and every plant, animal, bird, amphibian, and insect plays a role—even fungi!
Look carefully and you can even find life in microbes!
Microbes, or microorganisms, are tiny life forms, so minute on their own they can’t be seen without the use of a microscope. Microorganisms are the building blocks for everything around us and can be found in soil, in bodies of water, and in the air.
Fungi, Lichens + Mosses
The humble fungi is an essential component in supporting a healthy ecosystem. Not only are mushrooms a food source for us but other wildlife such as deer, bear, squirrels, and even insects, eat them too. Fungi aid in the decomposition of wood and other organic matter delivering nitrogen to the soil and nutrients to plants. At a mycelial level, fungi act as a communications system for trees.
We typically think of fungi as decomposers, but they are cryptic and do many different things.
Insects often get a bad rap for being unwanted intruders in our own personal habitats, but in nature, they play an important role. Insects are part of the foundation of the food chain supporting the diets of all kinds of life on the land and in water. Insects are important pollinators for our flowers and plants; they help to aerate the soil and carry organic matter which provides nutrients to plants.
Take a closer look at their functions and behaviours and you might have a change of heart.
Reptiles + Amphibians
Did you know that the presence of amphibians is a great indicator of ecosystem health? The next time you hear the incessant croak of a frog, know that the conditions of their habitat are helping them to thrive.
Salamanders, Newts, Toads, Tree Frogs and many other species are cold-blooded vertebrates known as amphibians. As both predator and prey, they are a middle player in the food chain. They begin their lives underwater, with the use of gills to breathe, then transition to living on land breathing through lungs. Some salamanders and newts spend their entire lives underwater.
The common garter snake is frequently seen at the Garden, but not to worry, it poses no threat to humans. This reptile is welcomed by gardeners as this snake eats many unwanted pests but like amphibians, they are also prey to birds and other wildlife.
Birds, large and small, are beloved for many reasons but they play a vital role as nature’s volunteer exterminators and germinators and help to keep our forests intact. They are mutually beneficial to other birds and wildlife too – for example, a Woodpecker can create a tree hollow where smaller birds can safely shelter and nest away from the harms of other predators; scavengers like the Turkey Vulture ensure carcasses of animals don’t leave disease and bacteria that can harm other wildlife; and the Eagle, which scoops fish out of the ocean will feast, leaving behind bones which will add nutrients to the forest floor.