E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden


The E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden is organized geographically with separate beds representing the mountains of Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, South America and Australasia, allowing visitors to “travel around the world” looking at plants. Skillful design and placement of rock outcrops simulate montane and alpine habitats. Plants are spaced well apart to allow maximum sun exposure and air circulation. The abundance and diversity of flowering plants and our cool weather mean long seasons of bloom and the presence of many different pollinators. Hummingbirds are year-round visitors to the garden providing pollination and pest management services, as well as considerable entertainment to visitors.

Seasonal Highlights

At any time of the year, the Alpine Garden provides a bounty of interesting plants and flowers. Even in deep winter, there are often plants in flower in the Bulb Frame, barring deep freezes or heavy snow. Late winter bulbs such as snowdrops, cyclamen and various narcissi start to push out of the ground in January or early February followed by bulbs including winter heath, hellebores, rhododendrons, barberries, manzanitas. By April, there are thousands of plants from every continental region in flower.

Summertime is a riot of colour, with various yellow, pink and orange daisy relatives competing with the darker Kniphofia species (poker plants), Crocosmia species (montbretias) and Phygelius (Cape fuchsias) in the Africa section. In the South America section, hummingbirds make their noisy territorial displays and feed on the plentiful nectar of the fuchsias, giant red lobelia and Fabiana imbricata, an unusual potato relative with purple tubular flowers. As summer turns into autumn, colourful leaves and late summer flowers, such as fothergilla, chrysanthemum and California fuchsia take centre stage. Later, ripening pernettya and fuchsia berries mix with autumn crocus, belladonna lilies, nerines and river lilies, making a last push of colour before winter sets in.

Significant Collections

  • dwarf conifers
  • North & South American cacti
  • Hebe
  • Alpines of the world
  • Iris and other members of Iridaceae
  • Sempervivum
  • Eucalyptus



The E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden, built on a southwest-facing hillside beside Thunderbird Stadium, was constructed using 2,000 tonnes of pyroxene andesite boulders imported from the BC Interior in the early 1970s. Plants in this garden have been acquired through botanical garden sources, private collectors, local and international nurseries and in-house plant and seed collecting expeditions. The garden was named after the late Ed Lohbrunner, a Victoria-area nurseryman and internationally known plantsman, who donated many of the plants to the garden. UBC Botanical Garden’s alpine collections include the widest range of diminutive plants that are possible to grow at UBC. The garden is one of North America’s largest alpine gardens.

Feature: Plant diversity

The Alpine Garden collection is focused more on diversity than individual genera. In only 3% of the total area of the Garden, the Alpine Garden holds 40% of the taxa. This results in a collection full of natural treasures, from a wide array of families that are not duplicated elsewhere in the Garden.

Two genera we focus on are Eucalyptus and Hebe. Only the hardiest of these Southern Hemisphere evergreens survive our climate, and the Australasian section of the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden has excellent collections of both.

A colony of the native hornwort, Anthoceros punctatus—a primitive plant allied to mosses—grows on the south side of the Alpine Garden’s Asian section pond. Hornworts are valuable tools in the teaching of evolutionary biology, and plants are collected annually for the UBC Botany Department from this spot.