We’ve been waiting all year to see more of the sun and now that it’s here, it’s time to celebrate! If you’re in Victoria the best way to do that is by visiting one of the many gardens on the South Island. These stunning places are a testament to the incredible diversity of plants and flowers that can grow and thrive in the temperate climate of the South Island, plus, these gardens are the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing stroll, take a few pictures and bask in the warmth and beauty of spring.
Government House Gardens
Free admission: 1401 Rockland Ave, Victoria, BC
Open daily from sunrise to sunset, the Government House Gardens surround the Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Canada and ceremonial home of all British Colubians. This massive, public 36 acre property is only a short walk away from many EMR Victoria properties and is filled with different, carefully tended gardens that showcase the beauty and diversity of Victorian gardens. While the property itself is massive, it is relatively hidden and not one of the major ‘tourist’ gardens and therefore, is one of the most peaceful, quiet spots in the city. On this incredible property you can wander through the elegant Victorian Rose Garden, visit the orchard, marvel at the enormous rhododendrons, immerse yourself in the fragrant iris and lily gardens and so much more.
Admission by donation: 1964 Fairfield Rd, Victoria, BC
This stunning heritage site is the former home of Prince and Princess Abkhazi of Georgia who decided to move to western Canada and settled in beautiful Victoria in 1946. In the same year, the couple had fallen in love with their new home and began to build their dream garden using the unique, rugged and rocky landscape to their advantage. From the street, you would have no idea that behind the hornbeam hedge you’d find a garden that organically flows around the dramatic rocky slopes and crevasses, utilizing the depth of each groove to create beds of soil for larger plants like brilliant Japanese maples and voluminous rhododendrons. Here, you can also find gnarled Garry oaks, naturalized bulbs and alpine flora that allow this garden to seamlessly move through the seasons. Whether you’re staying in Sidney, Sooke or right nearby in Victoria, you won’t want to miss this!
See website for admission rates: 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC
Located in beautiful Brentwood Bay just a few minutes from the picturesque seaside town of Sidney, is the incredible Butchart Gardens. This National Historic Site is home to over fifty acres of stunningly cultivated gardens with over 900 bedding plant varieties and thousands of blooms arranged in five, distinct thematic areas. During your visit you can be engulfed in scent in the beautiful Rose Garden, get lost through the meandering paths in the verdant Sunken Garden, bask in the beauty of the tropical Mediterranean Garden, enjoy the symmetry of the Italian Garden and find your zen in the Japanese Garden. When you’re finished your tour, pop into the restaurant for a healthy lunch and treat yourself to some delicious gelato!
Hatley Castle Gardens
Free admission: 2005 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC
Built by James Dunsmuir, son of a coal baron Robert Dunsmuir in the late 1800’s, this European fortress-style castle is a significant part of Victoria’s history. Today the building is used as the administrative offices of Royal Roads University, but it has also been the set for many movies and TV shows over the years! The stunning gardens weren’t built until 1912 when the Dunsmuirs hired a landscaping company out of Boston to design the entire estate and created three ‘garden rooms’: the Japanese, Italian and Rose gardens, that today stand as a testament to Edwardian garden design. Hatley Castle is one of the best places for photographs, picnics and is an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon.
The Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific
$12 admission for adults: 505 Quayle Rd, Victoria, BC
This stunning garden may not have the grandeur or history of some of the others on this list, but the HCP is absolutely worth the trip for any floral enthusiast. Here, you can walk through the incredibly lush beds that are lovingly cared for by volunteers, staff and students and visit the largest outdoor Bonsai garden in Canada! The incredible staff are always happy to answer questions, share tips and tricks that you can take home with you and you can even join in for one of the many horticultural events that are hosted here!
$17 admission for adults: 1461 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC
Ok, so this one isn’t strictly a floral garden, but it is one of the neatest places to go if you’re looking for a unique garden experience while you’re in Victoria. This enormous indoor jungle is filled with thousands of colourful tropical butterflies, birds, lizards and even has some tiny poison dart frogs, but don’t worry, they’re behind glass! Plus, if you’re into creepy crawlies, you can have a look at their latest exhibit, the Insectarium! Located just a stone’s throw away from Butchart Gardens, perfect for guests at any EMR Sidney locations and an easy drive from Victoria, this is definitely something to add to the ‘must see’ list – especially if you have kids!
Beacon Hill Park
Free admission: 100 Cook St, Victoria, BC
If you’ve done any research on this city, you already know about the beautiful Beacon Hill Park. This 75 hectare park right on the edge of the ocean in downtown Victoria is a vast, horticultural wonderland. With endless gardens both wild and cultivated, waterways, orchards, rocky outcrops, open fields and secret paths, this park is a garden that you could explore for years on end.