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Flowers of Vancouver - The history behind Tulips and Cherry Blossoms

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

It's almost spring! And if you are in Vancouver, you will probably start seeing the evolution of the cherry blossom trees. The once bare trees are now in full bloom and changing colours. 😍 We wouldn’t be a Vancouver-based magazine if we didn’t mention the flowers of Vancouver, so here it goes!

You must have seen photos of the flowers posted on our Instagram, and if you live in Vancouver, your timeline is just pink and red flowers! But not many people know the history behind these flowers. Why does Vancouver have Netherlands Tulips and Japan’s Cherry Trees?

Since Vancouver is known for cherry blossom streets and tulip gardens, we thought we would get into the history behind these flowers and why they are everywhere.


Let’s start with tulips, those beautiful vibrant flowers we see randomly in Vancouver’s streets. Or those rows of blooms in the Chilliwack Tulip Festival.

Tulips originated from Central Asia (modern-day Turkey), although now they are primarily developed, produced and exported from the Netherlands. During the second world war, Canadians fought alongside the Netherlands and aided Europe’s liberation from the Nazi Party. As a way for the Netherlands to thank Canadians for their sacrifice and remember the over 7,600 Canadian soldiers that died during the war, the Netherlands has sent hundreds of thousands of Tulip Bulbs every year for the past 77 years.

Fun fact, Princess Margriet Francisca of the Netherlands was born in Ottawa in 1943. The hospital’s maternity ward was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government, which meant that the Princess would not be considered Canadian and could take the citizenship of the Netherlands from her mother. That made the relationship between the two countries even stronger.

Cherry blossoms

The cherry blossom trees in Vancouver share a similar history to the tulips. They were a gift from Japan for the Japanese Canadians that fought with Japan in the first world war. The first planting of the tree was for Stanley park, and since then, many have been planted outside of Stanley park, amounting to over 43,000 cherry trees in Vancouver.

The Vancouver cherry blossom festival is typically on the first week of April. But you can start seeing them bloom as early as January in some areas in Stanley Park. Here are places that you can visit to see the cherry blossoms around Vancouver:

  • West End

  • Stanley Park

  • Kitsilano

  • Arbutus Ridge

  • UBC Campus

  • Queen Elizabeth Park

You can stay updated on the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website estival on the to keep track and stay updated.

Although these flowers' origin stories in Vancouver are of war -friendships and unity reflect in their beauty. We love walking around the streets of Vancouver, taking photos and just breathing in the scenery of this ever-changing city. Show us what you love about the season and the city, take a picture and tag us @thrivve.van 📸

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