A Study Trip Of Gardens And Arboreta In The Pacific Northwest
By Anna Bayley
I chose the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America as the destination for this study tour as I have had a particular interest in visiting a number of gardens there for some time. My main aims for the trip were to increase my horticultural knowledge and understanding of the maintenance of public gardens, and also to study and gain work experience in arboreta in the United States.
The trip, which lasted for four and a half weeks, began in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I visited a number of renowned gardens. One of these, the VanDusen Botanic Garden, particularly impressed me and was perhaps my favourite of the trip. The climate in Vancouver is relatively mild and it is for this reason, therefore, that the VanDusen garden contains one of the most comprehensive plant collections in Canada with 6,500 taxa from six continents. The garden, which offers some views of the beautiful mountain setting of Vancouver, also runs a number of visitor education programmes.
Other gardens visited in Vancouver included the University of British Columbia Botanic Garden, which is the oldest garden associated with a university in Canada. It is divided into a number of smaller gardens, among which is the Asian Garden which is set in a huge second growth coastal forest.
Very close to the U.B.C. Botanical Garden was the Nitobe Memorial Garden, which is considered to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. It was the first Japanese garden that I have visited and as a style of gardening I found it quite wonderful. Their main aim was to provide peace and harmony, which they achieved perfectly as the garden was so tranquil and beautiful.
Among a number of other gardens visited were the Bloedel Conservatory, located in Queen Elizabeth Park, which is the second largest triodetic dome in the world and Stanley Park,which is largely forest and, at nearly 1,000 acres, is about the same size as Central Park in New York.
My next stop of the trip was Victoria on Vancouver Island, where the main garden that I would visit was the Butchart Gardens. After studying at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania for a year, I was particularly keen to see this garden as many people have compared the two.
The gardens, which were founded in 1904, were originally limestone quarries, one of which, the Sunken Garden, is one of their most famous attractions. The standard of the display was very impressive, with every part of the garden beautifully maintained. The garden follows a recommended route and has various different gardens including, among others, the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. Fountains, ponds and streams also add to the gardens features. The main display from March to October relies largely on bedding plants.
From Victoria, the next destination of my trip was to Seattle in the United States where I was to spend just over a week at the University of Washington Park Arboretum. My aim here was to study their Acer collection which would help me with my systematics project. The arboretum is 200 acres in size and holds a number of good collections including Ilex, Quercus and Pinus.
The final destination of my study tour was Portland, Oregon, where I participated in work experience for a week at Hoyt Arboretum which largely involved the putting together of an inventory of the plants in their nursery. The 175 acre arboretum, which has 10 miles of hiking trails running through it, is home to one of the largest gymnosperm collections in the United States.
The study tour was a wonderful experience that I gained a great deal from and, thanks to the generosity and kindness of a number of people during my visit, I was able to achieve all of my aims and objectives for the trip and more.