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UBC Botanical Gardens

UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver
British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z4
Tel: 604-822-9666
Fax: 604-822-2016

For more info, please visit

The garden began in 1912, when two acres of land at the provincial Colony Farm at Essondale, just east of Vancouver, were developed by the provincial government under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. The aim of this programme was to collect plants from all parts of British Columbia so that they could be studied and correctly named. A provincial herbarium and library were started as an adjunct to this botanical survey.

John Davidson, a highly regarded botanist and emigrant from Scotland, was appointed provincial botanist as he began this work. Faced with a huge task, Davidson made many trips throughout the province, often under difficult conditions, collecting plants for the garden and the herbarium. He received help from many volunteers: ranchers, prospectors, surveyors and teachers. Four years later, 25000 plants representing about 9000 species were moved to the new university campus at Point Grey.

Davidson was appointed the first director of the Botanical Garden, and appointed to the biology department of the newly-formed University of British Columbia.

In 1951, when Professor Davidson retired after 32 years, the whole campus was designated a botanical garden under the direction of Dr. T.M.C. Taylor, head of the Department of Botany and Biology. New plant collections were developed throughout the campus. Many remain, but their documentation, care and maintenance proved unwieldy. As the campus developed, the siting of new parking lots conflicted with the garden's objective, and as a result, the Board of Governors decided to set aside 31 hectares (78 acres) to be operated by a new department, the Botanical Garden.

In 1963, the Botanical Garden merged with the grounds division of the department of buildings and grounds. By this time, all that remained of Professor Davidson's work was the arboretum and the rock garden he had created from stone left over from the construction of the Main Library.

In 1968, the newly appointed director, Dr. Roy Taylor, re-established the original objectives of Professor Davidson. These included the development of plant collections for research; the support of greenhouse facilities and their maintenance for the teaching and training of students; the propagation of plants; continuing education classes and direct involvement with horticultural industry.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Botanical Garden fostered its Plant Introduction Scheme of the Botanical Garden (PISBG). This program of introducing new plants into the horticultural industry led to world-wide acclaim for the garden, under the direction of its second director in modern times, Bruce Macdonald.

In the fall of 2000, the Board of Governors of UBC approved the formation of the Botanical Garden and Centre for Horticulture. The name was changed again in May of 2002 to the Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. The garden is now formally linked with the other Faculty of Agricultural Sciences horticultural land base components such as Totem Field and the Horticulture Greenhouses.

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