September Blues and Purples at the Garden


UBC Botanical Garden is Canada’s oldest continuously operating university botanical garden. The original mission of the garden was research into the native flora of British Columbia. Over the past nine decades, our mission has broadened to include research, conservation, teaching and public display of temperate plants from around the world, particularly Asian, alpine and native plants. We’re also home to the Greenheart Canopy Walkway.Come visit us – we’re located at 6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC. You can find more info at


The number of truly summery days reduces to a trickle in September. If we’re lucky, the sun shines and the wind originates somewhere in BC’s Interior, blowing warm, dry air our way. Typically, though, such weather breaks down rapidly in September and the misty Pacific Ocean begins its inexorable march on shore. Still, there is considerable heat in the sun’s rays, and September days can be more than pleasant. In the Botanical Garden, September is often overlooked as a good time to visit, but there is plenty to see and enjoy at this time of the year. High on the list of spectacular September flowers are the monkshoods (Aconitum species). Monkshood, also known as wolfbane for its imagined ability to deter wolves, is noted for its unusual and attractive mostly blue or purple helnmet-shaped flowers. The most common monkshoods are herbaceous perennials, but a number are herbaceous climbers that scramble through shrubs and small trees. Most species flower in September and October, and look well with the colouring foliage of deciduous plants. Visitors can find monkshoods in a number of areas around the Garden including in the Herbaceous Border, the Asian Garden and along the Boardwalk.

Hydrangeas are, of course, displaying prominently at this time of year, many of them in varying shades of blue. The spectacularly large H. macrophylla ‘Blue Wave’ is a knock-out below the Arbour in the Contemporary Garden. Its more diminutive lace-cap counterpart, H. serrata, is planted in several places at the western end of the Asian Garden. If the weather stays warm, the blue leadwort, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, (plants on the Entrance Plaza and in the Alpine Garden) will continue to flower, contrasting with its fall-reddening leaves. Another herbaceous perennial, Strobilanthes attenuata, with its purple salvia-like flowers, blooms in the Asian Garden for at least another few weeks. A less well-known September-flowering plant is Rostrinucula dependens. It is a suckering, deciduous shrub in the mint family that bears copious purple flowers in long, pendulous, persistent flower clusters. Despite its minty relations, Rostrinucula has no discernable aroma and while it lacks an English common name (it comes from the mountains of western China), the translated Latin is descriptive: Rostr- = beak, -inus- = having, -culus = small; dependens = hanging. The name “droopy snout shrub” was proposed, but it never caught on.

Treasured Bulb Sale

September 14, 2013, 10am-2pm
Free admission to Sale Area

The Treasured Bulb Sale will offer a wide range of bulbs for sale, from garden favourites to specialty bulbs, as well as an expanded selection of garlic. Beginners as well as collectors will find quite a few gems. Some sources for bulbs include: private gardens, the Lohbrunner Alpine Garden at UBC Botanical Garden, and some specialty growers. The Shop in the Garden will also open with lots of accessories and tools for bulb planting, as well as your favourite commercial collections.

Garlic for sale is grown at UBC Botanical Garden and Jon Bell, a specialty grower on the Sunshine Coast. Both hard-necked and soft-necked varieties will be available.

To make this a fun event, and to play up the event’s theme that bulbs are “buried treasure” we are offering free entry to the Botanical Garden for those that arrive in costume. (Entry to the sale area is free; regular admission to the garden applies for guests not in costume)

Garden tours are offered throughout the day with garden admission; tours on the Greenheart Canopy Walkway will also be offered at a special discount on the event day for those that would like to “walk the plank.”

The event will also feature a Children’s Tent with face painting and nodding onion bulbs (Allium cernuum) for little buccaneers to select a bulb and pot up.

Experts will be on-hand to offer gardening advice. Tea and Goodies are also available.

Parking and Bicycles: Ample parking and bike racks are available.

The Treasured Bulb Sale is organized by Friends of the UBC Botanical Garden. All proceeds will support UBC Botanical Garden.