VanDusen Garden's mission is "To inspire understanding of the vital importance of plants to all life through the excellence of our botanical collections, programs, and practices."
The Garden is jointly-operated by Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Garden Association (VBGA) with the assistance of its 1,600 volunteers. Together these partners also operate Bloedel Conservatory atop Queen Elizabeth Park.
Up to the mid-1960s, VanDusen Botanical Garden used to be a golf course – one of Vancouver's first – owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Destined to become a housing development by the 1970s, a dedicated group of citizens joined forces with the Vancouver Park Board to set aside 22 hectares of the site for a botanical garden.
Through a unique partnership at the time, funding for the land, then valued at $3 million, was made possible by three contributors: the Provincial Government ($1 million); the City of Vancouver ($1 million) and W.J. VanDusen ($1 million). Mr. VanDusen's generosity was recognized by naming the garden for him.
This spectacular garden opened to the public in 1975. The mild Vancouver climate allows the garden to cultivate an outstanding plant collection that delights at any time of year. Specific garden areas are planted to illustrate botanical relationships, such as the Rhododendron Walk, or geographical origins, as in Sino Himalayan Garden.