Victoria Gardens and Vancouver Island Parks
Victoria gardens should feature in the itinerary of every visitor. Known as “The Garden City”, Victoria’s climate is perfect for a wide variety of gardening. This is shown by the annual flower count in early spring when up to 8.5 billion blooms have been counted! Furthermore, this beautiful setting encourages casual strolls or serious hikes through southern Vancouver Island parks.
800 Benvenuto Avenue, 250 652 5256. For over 100 years, this world famous attraction and National Historic Site has delighted visitors year-round. Beginning as the private Victoria gardens of the Butchart family, the 55 acre garden is just a twenty minute drive from downtown Victoria. Tour the spectacular Sunken Garden, the enchanting Japanese Garden, the fragrant Rose Garden and other themed areas. Allow at least a couple of hours, more if you would like to treat yourself to one of Victoria’s best places for a traditional afternoon tea or an elegant dinner in The Dining Room. Plan on staying for the summer evening light display each summer evening or the Saturday fireworks show from early July to the end of August. Gardens at Christmas? Absolutely! From December 1 until early January, the Christmas decorations, special entertainment and magical atmosphere are not to be missed by locals and visitors alike. (Video courtesy of The Butchart Gardens.)
1461 Benvenuto Avenue. You will pass these as you drive to Butchart Gardens so drop in (and also visit the neighbouring Church and State Winery to sample Vancouver Island wines). Though best known for its butterflies the setting is a lush tropical garden. There is also an orchid exhibit.
505 Quayle Road. Over 10,000 plant varieties in 28 themed gardens in six acres show the diversity of plants of the Pacific Northwest. Operated by the non-profit Horticulture Centre of the Pacific as a demonstration and education garden. This peaceful site 15 minutes drive from downtown Victoria also includes 93 acres as a conservation park with walking trails, bike trails and a feeding area for over 35 varieties of birds. Plan a couple of hours to enjoy their excellent displays of heathers, rhododendrons, perennials and especially the enchanting Takata Japanese garden in a wooded hillside.
So … one way to spend a memorable day in Victoria gardens is to drive to the Butchart Gardens along the West Saanich Road (Hwy17A) enabling you to visit easily, in sequence: Glendale Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Church and State Winery and the Butchart Gardens. (After Glendale Gardens you could also drive up Observatory Hill to the astronomy interpretive Centre of the Universe.) LINK
1401 Rockland Avenue. The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor, the Queen's representative in British Columbia. Substantial gardens in a lovely setting, established and maintained in large part by volunteers. There’s a large cutting garden, perennial beds and a rose garden. Free admission.
4283 Metchosin Road. Eclectic and fun-lovingly creative. This 2.5 acre garden in the rural community of Metchosin, twenty minutes West of downtown Victoria, holds many surprises. The design of the garden is based on the five basic forms of the Japanese garden. Watch for Robin's Gladiator Tunnel and his colourful salmon stream. Admission is by donation. Visit the studio to see Robin and Judy’s award-winning pottery.
University of Victoria. There are over 4,000 different trees and shrubs including 1,500 rhododendron and azalea plants, and companion plants – ferns, vines, groundcovers, ornamentals – artistically displayed on a six acres at the SW corner of UVic’s campus. The site includes three tranquil ponds, an inviting network of winding paths and dozens of benches each with its own distinctive view of the gardens' ever-changing splendour. April and May are the best times to see the rhododendrons in their glory. Free admission.
Royal Roads University. Developed over 100 years ago by the Dunsmuir family, this 565 acre estate is now Royal Roads University, a National Historic Site. The three major gardens, Japanese Garden, Formal Italian Garden and Rose Garden are set in a classic Edwardian park design. During the Dunsmuir era approximately 100 gardeners tended the estate. This has long been considered one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets. You can tour both the Castle and the gardens.
1964 Fairfield Road. This is the result of a 50-year dedication by a Russian prince and princess who rebuilt their lives after years of separation and internment camps during the Second World War. It was saved from townhouse development in 2000 by an outpouring of donations and volunteer labour. These natural gardens with Garry Oaks, exposed rock with ponds and alpines and a rhododendron wood are full of charm. Light lunches and teas are served. Check opening times.
One of Victoria’s grand treasures! This historic civic park has tremendous variety and a natural space even in the heart of downtown. Its 200 acres were set aside in 1858 by James Douglas, governor of Vancouver Island when it was a British crown colony. The park’s name was inspired by a pair of masts on a hill used as a beacon and navigational aid to mariners approaching Victoria's inner harbour. The park is beautifully landscaped with many native trees and plants. There are paths with benches amidst flower gardens, a bandshell with summer concerts, sports fields including a cricket pitch, a 128 foot high totem pole, childrens’ petting zoo and ponds with lilies and waterfowl. Bald eagles and herons regularly nest in the huge fir trees.
Off Quadra Street, this hidden park is a secret garden treasure many Victorians are unaware of. May and June sparkle with the blooms of hundreds of mature rhododendrons in a one-acre maze. There is also an excellent example of a perennial border which is splendid from June until October. Free admission.
This short videos summarises the delights of a few of the gardens you can visit in Victoria and Vancouver Island.
(Video courtesy of Tourism Vancouver Island.)
On a day trip along the coast of Vancouver Island do visit:
In Qualicum Beach. 10 acres of gardens set around a pretty 1931 home and 60 acres of conservation forest maintained by Vancouver Island University. Afternoon tea is served.
Visiting southern Vancouver Island parks is an excellent way to enjoy our beautiful scenery. Select from their immense variety by browsing through two websites, showing regional and BC provincial parks:
BC Parks care for provincial parks with favourite local ones being Sidney Spit, Goldstream Park, Sooke Potholes, French Beach and China Beach.
The Capital Regional District protect 30 regional parks including The Galloping Goose Trail, East Sooke Regional Park and Witty’s Lagoon.
Your Victoria B&B hosts will be glad to tell you more about these gardens and to direct you to more Vancouver Island parks.
Victoria gardens and Vancouver Island Parks