B. C. Chapter Rhododendron Garden
Clive L. Justice, Vancouver, B.C.
Fig. 28. Rhododendron garden entrance
area, Musqueam Park, Vancouver, B.C.
Fig. 29. Chapter President Dave
Freeman planting first rhododendron at
entrance to B.C. Chapter test garden
The establishment of a Rhododendron Garden for testing and the collection of varieties and species, in the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia, has been an objective of the B. C. Chapter ever since its formation in the early fifties. Our efforts over the past ten years finally came to the point of realization, when on Saturday, March 16, 1963, the inaugural planting took place in the B. C. Chapter's new Rhododendron Garden in Vancouver.
This garden came about through the cooperation and generosity of the Vancouver Parks Board and the interest of Bill Livingston, Assistant Park Superintendent, in the idea of a Park area devoted mainly to Rhododendrons within the city. As a result the major portion of Musqueam Park, some 40 acres, has been designated as a Rhododendron Test Garden. It will be in the nature of a joint venture by the Chapter and the Vancouver Parks Board.
Musqueam Park lies in the south west corner of the city of Vancouver, at the corner of Crown Street and South West Marine Drive. South West Marine Drive is Vancouver's scenic drive along the north arm of the Fraser River on the wav to the University of B. C. campus.
The park is ideally suited for a Rhododendron Garden. The site is lightly covered in second growth native trees -fir, cedar, hemlock, dogwood and alder. The soil is a light sandy loam. sloping gently to the south.
One of the most attractive features of the Park is a year round creek running through the Park diagonally from the north west corner. The high banks on each side slope gently down to the creek bed and offer marvelous possibilities for the display of Rhododendron Groups. Our native sword fern and huckleberry now cover a great part of these banks and are beautiful even without the addition of rhododendrons.
The name Musqueam is Indian and the area was once part of the Musqueam Indian Reserve, just to the south of the Park.
The inaugural planting was twofold, in that it signaled the start of the B. C. Chapter's work on the garden, in association with the Vancouver Parks Board, and allowed many of the members to have a closer look at this beautiful site. The initial planting of some 22 rhododendrons, contributions by the members, is on both sides of the future entry walk into the garden. This small area had been previously prepared by the Parks Board Staff. The beds were cleared of rocks, and peat dug into the soil, with a five foot crushed granite path installed between the beds.
The instructions to the members for the planting was to bring a rhododendron and a shovel. Surprisingly, 22 completely different rhododendrons arrived. Over half of the rhododendrons were large, three to four foot specimens.
While the plan for the area will be in keeping with the character of the site, paths will form a network following the contour of the ground and allowing all parts of the garden to be reached by foot. There will be a 25 foot numbered grid imposed over the whole area, so that the rhododendrons, when planted, can be located accurately within any square of the grid by the coordinates of the grid along with two measurements from the grid lines. The coordinates and the measurements will then be entered into the rhododendron ledger along with the pertinent details of the rhododendron planted-date planted, variety, parentage, donor, etc. In this way we hope to record and keep track of all rhododendrons planted in the garden. This method will also permit persons interested to see and observe a particular variety and know it is that variety. It also does away with the problem of lost and destroyed labels, permitting accurate re-labeling when required.
This first planting consisted of the following rhododendron varieties and species, and while the locations of these first few plants may not be final they are a fine beginning to what we hope will be the Pacific Northwest's finest and most beautiful Rhododendron Garden.
- 'McKee's Pink'
- 'Louis Pasteur'
- 'Red Eagle'
- 'Mme. de Bruin'
- R. macrophyllum
- 'Little Beauty'
- R. fargesii
- Faggeter's Favourite seedling
- Ghent var. 'Barthola Lazzari'
- 'Beauty of Littleworth'
- 'Mrs. A. T. de la Mare'
- 'Antoon Van Welie'
- R. wardii
- R. sutchuenense
- 'Gomer Waterer'
- 'Blue Peter'
- 'Jan Dekens'
- 'Souv. of Anthony Waterer'