gardens in victoria

Besides being the Crown Jewel of British Columbia, Victoria is also known as the City of Gardens, and for a good reason. With one of the most temperate climates in Canada, Victoria boasts multitudes of various plants that have the opportunity to thrive here. Their beauty is displayed in the hundreds of personal and public gardens that tourists and locals alike enjoy spending time in, some of them all year around. Most people have heard of the famous Butchart Gardens, but there are many other garden treasures residing in this beautiful British Columbia capital city. Check out the ones featured below.

Butchart Gardens

Finding its 1900s beginnings as a humble limestone quarry, the Butchart Gardens are now one of the premier garden attractions in Canada. It came to thrive under the green thumb of Jennie Butchart. Although the gardens fell into despair after her death, they were reborn in 1946 with the arrival of Jennie’s grandson, Ian Ross, and his wife Ann Lee. Under the Butchart family name, the gardens have continued to progress and grow. Today, the 55 acres contain the original quarry, known as the Sunken Garden, a magnificent Rose Garden and popular Japanese, Italian and Mediterranean Gardens. Much more than just a place for looking at plants, the area also contains cafes, fountains, totem poles, restaurants and even a carousel! Featuring many different displays depending on the season and even a concert and firework lawn, the Butchart Gardens are an ever changing experience. It’s an attraction worth visiting any time of the year. In fact, the gardens are consistently listed under many Top Things to Do in Victoria lists. They should not be missed.

Abkhazi Garden

The Abkhazi Garden boasts both a unique history and design that make the heritage home, teahouse and garden a popular spot to visit. Not only does its discrete location create a haven from the city, it possesses a dramatic and natural landscape that plays host to glacial rocky outcrops, incredible Garry oaks and a secluded Teahouse. The Teahouse itself is an exemplary display of West Coast design. As an appealing and romantic twist, historically, the Abkhazi Garden is the child of Prince and Princess Abkhazi, war-torn lovers of WWII. It came to be in 1946 after they were finally reunited in Victoria. The couple grew the fantastic west coast features of the garden together for almost forty years until their deaths. Afterwards, it was purchased by the Land Conservancy. Today, it is well loved by both tourists and Victoria locals.

Finnerty Gardens

With its University of Victoria location, the Finnerty Gardens see plenty of visitors including students, professors, tourists and other locals. In a 6.5-acre plot tended by a group known as the Finnerty Garden Friends, as well as by UVic Alumni and community members, visitors will find over 200 species of rhododendrons (some of them over 6m in height), thousands of azaleas and over 4,000 different trees and shrubs. Through careful planning and development, the network of paths, ponds and inviting benches provide rich diversity in scent, colour and display all year round. The best time to visit for the rhododendrons is in May. However, the ever-changing gardens are a treat at any time of the year. Pair the garden visit with a tour of UVic, or check out the nearby boutiques and beach of the Cadboro Bay community to enjoy a well-rounded and relaxing day in the area.

Hanging Flower Baskets

An infamous Victoria trademark since 1937, the hanging flower baskets that adorn Victoria’s downtown lampposts from June to September signify the beginning of Summer. They also add even more colour to the already vibrant waterfront city core. The beautiful sun baskets, as they are called, each possess a total of 25 plants and include 9 different varieties. Carefully designed to thrive off of the warmer temperatures and to bloom until early September, these local, nursery grown plants fill about 1,350 baskets that are constructed over four weeks. The brilliant arrangements are hard to miss – they are yet another display of the unique and beautiful plant life the mild climate of Vancouver Island affords, bringing a smile to the faces of all those wandering the area.

44-Hectare Horticulture Centre

Both extensive garden and teaching center, the not-for-profit Horticulture Centre has the goal of creating not only a recognized botanical garden but also a place of conservation, research and learning. Spanning 44-hectares of land, the vision is steadily making its way towards being a reality. It already possesses 21 gardens and 2 parks. The Conservation Park encompasses 100 acres and is free to the public with many cycling trails, bird watching platforms and brilliant second-growth Douglas firs that surround the wetland and trails. The Outerbridge Park is a wildlife and bird sanctuary, and the many other gardens include the 3 B’s Garden (Birds, Bees and Butterflies), and Takata Japanese/Zen, Bonsai and Mediterranean gardens. To see it all, more than a few visits are in order. However, it is well worth the time, as the Horticulture Centre provides both an educational and stunning outing.

Butterfly Gardens

If you’re already planning on visiting the Butchart Gardens, then the Butterfly Gardens are a must-see along the way. Just 5 minutes from their famous neighbour, this 12,000sqft enclosure creates a tropical jungle that is home to not only thousands of free-to-fly butterflies, but also various amphibians (and a chameleon!), tropical birds and flamingoes, tortoises and turtles and giant koi. Enjoy hundreds of blooming tropical plants and watch the carnivorous plants feed in the carnivorous plant display. For something a little different from the traditional gardens in Victoria, the Butterfly Gardens are a fantastic spot, especially for younger visitors.

Many of Victoria’s incredible parks also feature amazing plants and well-kept gardens within. Check out our Parks page for more hidden gems to discover!

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