Chilliwack Tulip Festival 2019 – Open

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News , Vancouver Coast and Mountains

Chilliwack Tulip Festival 2019 open - mean image

Bloom Update April 14, 2019

The Chilliwack Tulip Festival opened April 10th, 2019. See current bloom updates below.

Daffodils are in season! They are currently 75% bloom and look amazing!
Hyacinths in full bloom! They are expected to be in full bloom until April 16th.

Tulip Fields are closing in on 50% now. All colours are starting to show and one purple variety is almost in full bloom.

Display Gardens are in half bloom, and will be in full bloom with lots of colours and some new surprises by April 16th!

Have you been? A floral showcase of over 25 acres of working tulip fields surrounded by beautiful mountain views and rustic farms in Chilliwack, BC.

See the full Chilliwack Tulip Festival 2019 event listing for more details.

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Things To Do in Chinatown: A Moon Festival Itinerary

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

Chinatown Millennium Gate on Pender Street

A Moon Festival Itinerary – Things To Do at the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival presents a wonderful opportunity for family fun. Gardens BC has put together a list of ‘things to do’ to assist in making your choice. The actual festival date is September 24; most of the events take place on the previous week-end, September 21 and September 22. If you are lucky, you may be able to fit two events into your fun schedule.

If you are in Vancouver/Lower Mainland, there are several choices. 


The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden celebrates Music Under the Moon on Friday evening, September 21 from 5:30 — 9:30pm. In addition to musical performances,enjoy a Music Under the Moon contest where you will vote for the winner, tea tasting, mooncake making and more. Be sure to visit the Chinese Musical Instrument Petting Zoo from 6:30–7:00 pm. Ticketed.

There are numerous restaurants and shops in and near Chinatown for a bite to eat before the event.

Join the Vancouver Learning City at Oakridge for a Chinese Harp Music concert  Friday Sept 21 from 6:00 to 7:00pm. Free


Moon Cake Demonstration: Coquitlam Heritage Centre,  Ages 12+

Learn about the history and traditions of Mid-Autumn Moon festival, how to make ice mooncakes and the how to make baked mooncakes.  Sampling included!  Spaces is limited. 10:30am to 12:00pm. Reservations and ticketed

If you are on Vancouver Island:


 Saanich Moon Lantern Festival 5:00pm -8:00pm.

A family friendly event that welcomes people of all ages and cultures. Enjoy traditional Asian dance and musical performances by community groups; lantern making for children and a sampling of mooncakes and traditional green teas. The event culminates with outdoor lantern installations, an illuminated community lantern procession through the park followed by an outdoor musical performance.   Free.

Light Up the Hills Lantern Festival   7:30 – 9:30pm, Westhills community in Langford.

The festival features illuminated artworks that create an intriguing glowing effect. Participants will stroll along a path passing performances and artworks.  Get ready for the evening by attending one of several lantern-making workshops on different dates.

Event: free.  Lantern-making workshops: registration fee.

Portland Oregon

A major Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is held at the LanSu Chinese Garden in Portland Oregon. If you will be in Portland on Sept 22, be sure to visit; their impressive list of events includes performances, games, tea, crafts, story-telling and more. 

Where to buy mooncakes:

Vancouver /Lower Mainland:

Buy mooncakes in Vancouver.  Most Chinese bakeries features mooncakes in the lead up to the festival. Other mooncake bakeries of note are Saint Germain Bakery with stores through Lower Mainland. If you’re looking for mooncakes with an exciting fusion flair, visit Soirette Bakery for flavours such as Pineapple Marmalade & Kaffir Lime Leaf and Black Sesame & Yuzu

Victoria area 

You’ll find mooncakes at Fairway Markets. It’s also worth a peek in other Chinese bakeries and where Chinese food is sold..

Prince George

If you are wondering if you can buy mooncakes in Prince George. You’re in luck.

If you are unable to visit any of the celebrations, you don’t have to miss out on the stories, legends and traditions of Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. The British Council’s Schools Online offers a Mid-Autumn Moon educational kit to do with the family.

Whatever you choose to do for the event, keep your friends and family in your thoughts. Pass this Moon Festival Itinerary to friends and look for updates to it next year. Looking for a different itinerary, try our Single Day Cultural Garden Experience Trip in Vancouver.

Download a pdf of the Moon Festival Itinerary

New 23 Acre Botanical Garden For UNBC

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

University of Northern British Columbia

New Botanical Garden to be the most northerly in Canada.

A new 23 acre botanical garden is being planned for the University of Northern British Columbia with the help of the David Douglas Botanical Garden Society.

“The big dream is to build a full-fledged botanical garden, about 23 acres, to model it after other botanical gardens,” explains Linda Naess, President of the David Douglas Botanical Garden Society. “To have the educational piece of it, the research part of it, a building and events. It’s going to be a big project.”

New Botanical Garden at UNBC conceptual map

Read more about the UNBC botanical garden initiative and watch the video in the original story by CKPG News in Prince George, BC. To see more gardens in British Columbia, view our BC Garden Master Directory.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival: Moon Gladness

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

Mid Autumn Moon Festival at Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver

Not-To-Be-Missed! Mid-Autumn Moon Festival 中秋节 Zhōngqiū Jié:  Moon Gladness

It happens every year and every year it seems to take us by surprise as we begin the move away from the yang sun and the heat of summer toward the yin moon and the months ruled by the cool and dark of the night sky. We wake up one day and it’s autumn in the garden. “What happened?”

Autumn is kind to gardeners – there is still some warmth and sun, in patches, and the crisp and cool feels invigorating. Gardens are still producing almost more than we can eat and the winter veggies are sprouted, which is rewarding.

Autumn slides in; the first hint is when the quality of the light seems to change. It always happens as a ‘ooh’ moment. It’s hard to describe what the change is, but the word that always comes to mind is poignant. A whispering harbinger of the season changing. Night changes too; think of autumn’s largest moon, golden, with its ‘faces’ most visible. 

Mid Autumn Moon Festival at Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver at night

Moon-wise, 2018 is an unusual year. There will be 13 full moons, none of which were in February and two of which are blue moons (January and March). In current terms, a blue moon happens when there is a second full moon in a month. They happen once every 2.7 years, which gives a definitive number to the phrase ‘once in a blue moon.’

Full moons are often named to correspond what is happening in the natural world:

Chinese Moon names - moon festival

People around the world celebrate seasons; harvest festivals feature prominently. The second most important Chinese lunar festival, Mid-Autumn Moon Festival 中秋节, falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, September 24 this year, the night of the full moon. The day has been

Mid Autumn Moon Festival at Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden - moon cakescelebrated in China since the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600-1046 BCE).  It’s a harvest festival celebrating the abundance of summer and the importance of family. A time to gather; some call it the Festival of Reunion. The event is increasingly celebrated in and by gardens, such as Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (  中山公园 Zhong Shan Gong Yuan) and Portland’s Lansu Garden)

Like all festivals, there are traditions associated with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival; where you celebrate, what you eat, what stories you tell and how you decorate. The full moon is a metaphor for a family reunion, a never-ending circle. For centuries, a feature of the evening has been gazing at the moon, admiring its beauty, knowing that family and friends not with you were doing the same, the moon connecting everyone.

It’s a family celebration, traditionally at home, but more often now a family gathering in a restaurant.  Each family has its own tradition of what dishes are a ‘must’ for the meal, but everyone includes mooncakes.  

Mooncakes 月饼

Traditional mooncakes have a thin, tender pastry skin enveloping a sweet dense filling, usually red bean or lotus, and may contain one or more whole salted duck egg yolks to symbolize the full moon. They are made in special molds that form the shape and leave an imprint on the top and are eaten in small wedges with tea.  Traditional Moon Cakes

If you are ambitious, try making your own mooncakes, here’s a recipe for traditional lotus seed mooncakes.  Yum.  When googling for the recipe; it was immediately apparent that there are many to choose from. Molds and other things you need can be found on Amazon or in culinary shops. Ming Wo’s in Vancouver, just across the street from Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, comes to mind. One exciting discovery was that mooncake flavours have expanded beyond the traditional into almost every flavour imaginable. Fun.  Here’s a list of 10 favourite mooncakes in China: Five Kernel and Port, Red Bean Paste, Lotus Seed Paste, Snow-Skin, Fruit and Vegetable, Chocolate, Green Tea, Ice Cream, Cream Cheese and Seafood.  Buying is also an option; every Chinese bakery has a selection and they almost always come in great packaging.

Hairy crabs 大闸蟹

Besides mooncakes, another autumn delicacy that dominates Chinese Moon Festival menus is steamed hairy crabs along with a plate of ginger and vinegar. Hairy crabs are also known as Chinese mitten crabs because of their furry claws. They spend most of their lives in fresh water and return to the sea to breed.

Mid Autumn Moon Festival at Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden in downtown Vancouver

Poetry 诗歌

Chinese literature has many well-known Mid-Autumn Moon Festival poems. In earlier days, they were sung/recited and formed part of the evening’s entertainment.  ‘Thoughts in the Silent Night’ by Li Bai is one such poem. He used four lines of five characters to express his homesickness at the Moon (Mid-Autumn) Festival.

Li Bai Poem - MoonsStory-Telling

One of the most famous Mid-Autumn Moon Festival stories, The Legend of Chang er,  is an enduring love story that tells of the characters involved in solving the problem of ten suns in the sky and what happened to them afterward.Mid Autumn Moon Festival at Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden


The Osmanthus is the flower most associated with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. It’s prized for its sweet-smelling and edible flowers which bloom at festival time.

If you want to celebrate the festival outside your home, there are a number of great options to choose from.  Watch this space in a few days for “where to go’ ideas, including Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which celebrates their Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday, September 21.

If you enjoyed this article, take a looks at our single day cultural garden trip itinerary within the City of Vancouver.

Garden Tourism Development at BC Tourism Conference

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

BC Tourism Industry Conference 2018

Garden Tourism Update and British Columbia’s Garden Tourism Sector Development at the BC Tourism Industry Conference 2018

Gardens British Columbia is pleased to collaborate with and be the topic of a seminar titled, B-2 Sector Development: Where the Rubber Hits the Trail and Going Gardens Tourism, at the BC Tourism Conference in Kelowna, BC, March 7-9, 2018. The Conference is a high level forum for tourism businesses, destination marketers, and stakeholders from around British Columbia to learn from experts and each other about the key issues, challenges and best practices in the industry.

Brian White, a a keen member of Gardens BC, representing Royal Roads University’s Hatley Park National Historic Site will present a paper on Gardens BC sectoral development and has kindly allowed us to publish a peek at the abstract:

The garden experience in a particular state or region is often presented as a marketable
tourist/visitor attraction, but the structure of the collective management and marketing of the garden tourism sector is not usually presented as a case study. In this paper, the development of Gardens British Columbia provides a sectoral case study. The membership heterogeneity of Gardens BC reflects the widely varying nature of the garden experience in the province, and provides an opportunity to examine the tourism industry sectorial approach used to provide effective marketing and promotion for export-ready gardens and garden communities. In particular, the garden manager’s leadership, collaborative approach, and the existing sectoral marketing methodology of Destination British Columbia (formerly Tourism British Columbia) provides a pathway for other jurisdictions wishing to enhance and market this highly interconnected sector.
Key Words: Garden tourism, tourism sector organization, garden management, garden tourism marketing.

Alison Partridge of Going Gardens, spent 20 years in the New Zealand tourism industry and then 10 in Canada as the Director of PR and Marketing at The Butchart Gardens. And in the last almost 10 years has developed deep insight into international garden tourism, traveling to the world’s gardens with Proof Positive Solutions/Going Gardens, that advises developing tourism product and business. She will give updates on hotspots for international garden tourism, what the developments and trends are and give a glimpse into what the future might hold for tourism in the garden sector not only internationally, but for the British Columbia garden tourism sector as well.

If you are attending the conference, join the panelists in this session to learn about the development of each of these sectors – where they are at, how they got there and where they are going. Understand the importance of having a vision, working collaboratively and having strong leadership to continually evolve a sector and achieve success.

For anyone who wishes to read Professor White’s BC Garden Tourism Sectoral paper, please email us after the conference and we would be glad to send you a copy.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in: Gardens British Columbia Launches Innovative New Web Site.

Chinese New Year: Four Thousand Years and Counting

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

Chinese New Year 2018

新年好 Xīnnián hǎo – Happy New Year!

People have been celebrating Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival (节), for over four millennia and its reach is growing.   First celebrated in China, people around the world now observe the holiday.  Almost everyone finds a good party irresistible.  Visit Vancouver’s Chinatown on Sunday, February 18 to mingle with the crowds, see a parade and visit the Temple Fair at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Traditionally, at Chinese New Year, people were happily distracted from their daily lives for almost a month.  Family preparations took more than a week, with activities prescribed for every day, including cleaning, shopping for food and flowers full of symbolism and new clothing for the whole family.  All debts had to be paid before the New Year.  One day was reserved for sending off the kitchen god to report to the Jade Emperor on the family’s conduct that year.  The god’s picture hung in the kitchen where, from this central location, he could watch what was going on.  To ensure a good report, a sticky cake, Nian Gao (年糕 trans.‘every year is better’), was smeared on the picture’s mouth before he was sent off.   A good report was essential to secure abundant blessings for the coming year; the theory being that it’s hard to report bad things with a mouth full of sweets.

Chinese New Year was, and continues to be, one of the two main Chinese holidays that draw everyone home.  New Year’s Eve was for family, with eating, drinking and games.  Every dish of the reunion meal had symbolism.  Traditionally, in Suzhou China, people ate meatballs to represent the family reunion, egg dumplings that looked like ingots of gold and green vegetables with long stalks to represent longevity.

Children received red envelopes full of sweets or money by the adults.  The object of the evening was to stay awake until midnight to usher out the old year and welcome in the new one.  Firecrackers and fireworks have been set off for thousands of years to keep evil influences away and for the sheer fun of making noise.

Red and gold have always been the lucky colours of Chinese New Year.  Red lanterns, lucky sayings on red paper, red flowers, red envelopes and red clothing for children were popular.  Gold represented prosperity.

The first days of the New Year were for paying visits, exchanging new year greetings and enjoying general festivities.  It all ended on the 15th day of the new year with a Lantern Festival.

Temple Fairs were held during Chinese New Year and brought festival crowds together to see dragon and lion dances and acrobats, eat special food and shop at holiday markets.  Held at temples because they had large assembly spaces, the fairs provided a place to enjoy an outing in a renao (热闹 trans.‘hot and noisy’) atmosphere.

The festival has changed somewhat during its history; unhappily, we no longer get several weeks off work.  The kitchen god is less in evidence and more families eat at restaurants now, but families do gather. Red and gold, special flowers and red envelopes are still much loved.  Lions still dance and lanterns are hung.

If you want to immerse yourself in this happiest of all Chinese holidays, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden will hold a Temple Fair in honour of the new Earth Dog Year.  You’ll see paper cutting demonstrations, a Chinese art book display, lion dancing and a Gongfu Cha tea demonstration.  Get a traditional couplet written just for you by the Richmond Calligraphy Club members, listen to the Chinese New Year story about the Nian (年) monster and traditional music performed by the Folk Music Group of the Senior Chinese Society of Vancouver, put a wish on the wishing tree and receive a red envelope from a community elder.