British Columbia

$5.9M, 23-acre vision for UNBC botanical garden includes canopy walk, labyrinth, visitor centre

The two-part expansion of the David Douglas Botanical Garden was unveiled at a City of Prince George council meeting Feb. 3.

2-part expansion of David Douglas Botanical Garden unveiled at Prince George council meeting

A cable walk through the forest is among the elements proposed for an expanded botanical garden at the University of Northern British Columbia. The pictured walkway is of the Greenheart TreeWalk at the UBC Botanical Garden on the University of British Columbia's Point Grey Campus (John Lehmann)

Exploring a hedge maze, walking through the forest at canopy level, trying out fruits and vegetables developed especially for northern climates: They're all elements of a grand $5.9 million, 23-acre garden proposed for the University of Northern British Columbia.

The two-part expansion of the David Douglas Botanical Garden was unveiled at a City of Prince George council meeting Feb. 3.

"It's always been the vision of the botanical garden since it was incorporated in 1991 to develop a large botanical garden for Prince George," Linda Naess, president of the botanical society, told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

The society completed the first phase of the botanical garden — which covers 2.3 acres and features a bridge, waterfall feature and display gardens — in 2018.

Botanical society president Linda Naess says fundraising of $2.7 million is needed for Phase 2 of the garden's expansion. (David Douglas Botanical Society)

The theme of the garden's first phase is what grows in Prince George, Naess said.

"People think you can't grow anything here, and we've shown what grows and what flourishes," she said. "Plus, it's a beautiful park with a bridge and the stream." 

The garden is frequently used as a backdrop for wedding and graduation photos. 

The society is completing fundraising plans for the $2.7 million needed to develop the garden's second phase over the next two years.

Northern fruit and vegetable hybrids

Phase 2 would include a visitor centre, ornamental gardens, First Nations gardens and research plots that could include testing of northern fruit and vegetable hybrids and community gardens for students living on campus. 

"It's a big chunk of money and we realize that," Naess said. 

"The big piece is the building, because we need a home and we need an area to hold events."

Phase 3, at the cost of another $3.2 million, proposes development of wetlands and an elevated cable walk through the forested lands on the acreage. 

Naess said the garden serves an important role for promoting wellness for UNBC faculty, staff and others.

"People talk about walking in the forest and what it does for you," she said.

She said it would also be an asset to the community, somewhere people can take relatives and visitors. The planned development will also create plenty of activities for families, she said.

"You can take your family up and walk through a labyrinth. You can maybe do a skywalk. Somebody's suggested a zipline," Naess said.

"It's endless what you can do there and we think it's good for the whole community."

To listen to the complete interview with Linda Naess of the David Douglas Botanical Garden Society tap the audio link below: 

With files from Daybreak North