Canadian Garden Study Tour offered by MSU Extension Master Gardener Program

Join the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program to see and experience the Canadian Rockies, agriculture and botanic gardens of British Columbia.

Lake Louise with the Canadian Rockies in the background.
One of our first stops will be the beautiful Lake Louise. This glacier fed lake is surrounded by trees and plants that thrive in alpine environments. Photo by Sarah Rautio, MSU Extension.

Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) is excited to offer an international study abroad trip to its MSU Extension Master Gardeners. If you would like to experience the Canadian Rockies while also visiting garden areas in the Okanagan Valley and Vancouver, please plan to join MSU Extension’s 2024 Canadian Garden Study Tour. Hosted by MSU Extension’s Master Gardener Program, your coordinators will be Sarah Rautio, Extension Master Gardener program leader, and Rebecca Krans, consumer horticulture educator. We are partnering with Collette Travel to provide an educational and horticulturally focused international trip for nine days, July 22-30, 2024. To get more information or register for the tour, please email or Do not delay – space is limited!

This year’s study theme will be to learn more about the value of a diversity of plants and their habitats in a variety of Canadian landscapes. Human development and climate change are impacting people, plants and agriculture. By traveling through a continuum of beautiful landscapes in Northwest Canada, participants will learn about plants in three major habitats (natural – agricultural – urban); the successes, challenges and solutions for plant sustainability in a rapidly changing world; and some of the diverse people who depend on and work with the plants in those areas.

Beginning in cosmopolitan Calgary, we will travel through the majestic Canadian Rockies. Stops will include Lake Louise and Lake Moraine with their stunning turquoise waters. Next, we will drive through several iconic national parks on a journey to Revelstoke, British Columbia, home to Mount Revelstoke National Park where participants can choose between a tour of Nature’s Horticulture, the Meadows in the Sky Parkway participate in a hike with a park tour guide. That afternoon, everyone will tour the Revelstoke Forestry Museum and the Revelstoke Canyon Dam, where we begin to experience the more managed connections humans have with the natural world.

Red flowers growing alongside a road with trees and a mountain in the background.
Revelstoke National Park has its own natural horticulture in the form of “Meadows in the Sky.” Photo by Sarah Rautio, MSU Extension.

The agricultural leg of the trip then takes place in the Okanagan Valley. You will meet a First Nation knowledge keeper for a sensory walking tour in the morning, followed by a presentation and local garden tour from Canadian Master Gardeners who lead an effort to promote xeriscaping gardening.

A Japanese garden.
Nitobe Memorial Japanese Garden at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Photo by Sarah Rautio, MSU Extension.

Traveling onto Vancouver, we will spend a day at the gardens on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC), which will include the tranquil Nitobe Memorial Japanese Garden and the UBC Botanic Garden. The UBC Botanic Garden has many different types of gardens – an enormous food garden, a physic garden and a British Columbia rainforest garden, to name a few.

The final day includes VanDusen Botanical Garden, which consists of 55 acres and over 7,500 different plants from around the world. Finally, we will end our adventures at the city of Vancouver’s highest point, Bloedel Conservatory, with its exotic plants and birds.

Almost all sites include a local expert or guide who will provide detailed horticultural knowledge and time to explore on your own. The trip will include a study book to study before and during the trip on topics like water conservation, native plants and pollinator protection.

If you enjoy the convenience of a travel coach and having most amenities included, then this is the trip for you. Meet other gardening enthusiasts during group meals or self-guided garden times. Experience different cultures as you visit different gardens and another country.

Contact or for more trip details and the registration link. This opportunity is for MSU Extension Master Gardeners and their travel partners. Registration closes in mid-February or when the spaces are full, whichever comes first.

Blue and purple flowers line a walkway where people are walking.
Overflowing delphiniums at Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. Photo by Sarah Rautio, MSU Extension.

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