Did you know that you don’t have to leave the city if you want to get lost in some greenery? The most obvious way is to head to Stanley Park, but you don’t even have to leave the downtown core if you want to get some peace and quiet amongst the trees. Vancouver has several secret oases that are waiting for you to discover.
Top of the Law Courts
This secret garden oasis (pictured above) is in the middle of downtown, just above all the action. All you have to do is walk up the zig-zagging stairs, past the circular paper-clip-like sculpture and voila: quiet benches amongst the foliage for you to sit, read, or even have a nap (like I’ve done a few times on a break from work). Aside from a few locals who’ve discovered this spot as the perfect place to eat your lunch, it’s usually pretty empty.
I’m going to go out and call this one of the most inconspicuous gems in Vancouver. From the outside, the Burrard hotel looks like a square, grey block. But peak inside and you’re in for a treat: a stunning floating oasis of hearty palm trees and soft evergreens. Part of the appeal is how hidden this spot it.
The hotel’s general manager Dani Pretto explains its history:
The garden was started by the hotel’s previous owner, David Kotula Sr., who was an avid horticulturalist and very fond of the garden until his death in 2005. When we purchased the hotel from his son in 2010, one of the first projects was to revitalize it. All of the bones were there – the five full grown palm trees, Japanese maple, full grown lilac and massive rhododendron, but it was in need of some love. Mike Dezell from Watershed Landscape is here a couple of times a week, ensuring everything is pruned, watered and looking sharp.
Vancouver Convention Centre
Ok, this one isn’t open to the public but it’s certainly worth mentioning. The six-acre roof of the Vancouver Convention Centre is home to the largest green roof in Canada and the largest non-industrial living roof in North America. It boasts 20 species of foliage from the west coast, and is home to birds, insects (including four beehives) and small mammals, not to mention 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses. The roof is just about ready for its annual mow, from which the clippings will be composted back into the soil as fertilizer.
Are we missing any secret gardens or forests in the city? Let us know below.