Monday, November 2, 2015

Trees and More Trees

The population at Riverview was declining and buildings were closing. But there was still a lot of things to preserve on the grounds. Like the trees.

In 1992, the Riverview Horticultural Society was formed with a mission to protect the lands and trees on the site.

The society was run by a group of dedicated volunteers who, through events such as publishing a book entitled The Riverview Lands, hosting tours of the Riverview Trees and providing brochures and presentations at special events, raised the awareness of the special history and benefits of the trees and land at Riverview.

Two years later, the BC Building Corporation commissioned the Riverview Heritage Tree Inventory. More than 1,800 trees were inventoried at the site for their botanical and historical value. Once completed, the total value of these trees as estimated specimens was estimated to be more than $50 million; their value as a collection is far greater.

These trees have been allowed to grow unobstructed and as a result, the sheer size of them is one of the prized features of the Riverview arboretum. They were carefully planted and left plenty of room to grow, the trees able to reach their full potential, making them one of Canada's best collections.

There is a particularly beautiful grove of trees on the West Lawn, Centre Lawn and East Lawn buildings and many have thought, in error,  that was the arboretum when in fact, the arboretum stretches across the entire Riverview site.

 The Riverview Festival of Trees - later called TreeFest - was first held on October 30, 1994.

“…a small group of people who each loved the Riverview trees for their beauty decided to share them with the public. David Tarrant, from UBC Botanical Garden, guided one tree tour and Bill Browne, retired Arborist for the City of Vancouver, led another. We had no idea how many people might attend but a couple of hundred tree lovers showed up. We had to borrow a bullhorn from the RCMP. 

Soon we realized that these trees were more than just landscaping for Riverview Hospital. They were a provincial treasure of interest and value to botanists and arborists nationally and internationally. We also realized that it would be a disaster if they were destroyed. Already, in the 1980s, some 57 hectares (143 acres) of the site had been sold to developers. As this seemed likely to recur we formed the Riverview Horticultural Centre Society (RHCS) dedicated to preserve and protect the lands and trees of the Riverview Hospital site (the Lands) as a community-oriented, financially viable centre for horticultural, educational and therapeutic activities.” 

Excerpted from “Provincial Treasures—John Davidson and the Riverview Lands” by Val Adolph in “Davidsonia: The Journal of Botanical Garden Science”, January 2004

The festival still goes on today. The last one was on September 14, 2015.

Thanks to the PDF, Riverview, A Legacy of Care and Compassion for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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