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It’s blooming at these top 5 Victoria, BC, Gardens

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It’s blooming at these top 5 Victoria, BC, Gardens

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It’s dubbed the “City of Gardens.”

And for good reason. Victoria – the capital of British Columbia (or BC), Canada – literally blooms with colorful flowers and show-stopping gardens!

Indeed, the gardens in Victoria, BC, are a big draw for visitors and one of Victoria’s top tourist attractions.

Even in bleak November, hanging baskets of yellow and purple pansies brighten doorways of downtown shops near the city’s picturesque Inner Harbor.

We know – we live here in beautiful Victoria, and we’ve seen the flower baskets blooming as winter approaches!

Flower baskets like these can still be seen adorning shop and restaurant doorways in in Victoria in November
Flower baskets like these can still be seen adorning shop and restaurant doorways in Victoria in November (Credit: Pixabay)

Then come February, with most of Canada still blanketed by snow, Victorians celebrate the city’s annual Flower Count.

For one week, they count all the crocuses, daffodils and pink cherry blossoms flowering in the sunshine – an astounding 45,932,377,422 blooms in 2020. (Can you think of a more fun thing to do than count flowers?)

Daffodils peek up as early as February in Victoria; the tulips usually bloom in March
Daffodils peek up as early as February in Victoria; the tulips usually bloom in March

Best Victoria, BC, gardens

While there are many Victoria, BC, gardens to visit, the following five are the most popular. (They’re our favorites too).

Is it hot outside? Cool off at these best beaches in Victoria – read next!

1) Butchart Gardens

In the early 1900s, Jenny Butchart wanted to beautify the limestone quarry her husband Robert had mined.

Jennie Butchart
Jennie Butchart (1866 – 1950)

With topsoil transported by horse and cart to the abandoned pit, she set about creating the “sunken garden.” She had flowering trees planted and tucked ivy into the sides of the quarry walls.

Additional rose, Italian and Japanese gardens were added later.

Jennie’s vision turned into the Butchart Gardens.

The Sunken Garden has over 150 flower beds

Today, Butchart Gardens is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

The world-renowned gardens wow over 1 million visitors a year. They’re the largest, most well-known and best gardens in Victoria.

There are orchids too at the Butchart Gardens in Canada
There are orchids too at the Butchart Gardens in Canada

We particularly love the magnificent displays of annual flowers, curving manicured lawns, weeping willows and small lake with the 70-foot dancing Ross Fountain.

The Rose Garden – home to some 2,500 rose bushes – is wonderful too. The World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) recently honored it with an Award of Excellence.

top 5 Victoria gardens - Butchart Gardens
Smell the Lady Di roses at Butchart Gardens

If you visit in summer, don’t miss the spectacular Saturday evening fireworks (pioneered by Jennie Butchart’s great-grandson), which are choreographed to music.

Fireworks at Butchart Gardens
In summer, the Saturday evening fireworks are a fiery spectacle

Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC

Visiting from Vancouver? This best-selling tour of the gardens includes the ferry ride from your Vancouver hotel.

For more information, see Butchart Gardens.

2) Beacon Hill Park

Stroll through Beacon Hill Park in downtown Victoria, and you see spandex-clad joggers pounding the trails, moms pushing baby strollers and grey-haired gents chatting on park benches.

top 5 Victoria gardens - Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park (Credit: Holly Lawrence)

Shaded by maple, arbutus and soaring Douglas firs, the 200-acre landscaped park is interlaced with moss-covered bridges, lakes, rock gardens, lily ponds and meandering paths.

Peacocks and ducks roam about freely.

Ducks love Beacon Hill Park too...
Ducks love Beacon Hill Park too… (Credit: Pixabay)

On one visit, we spied a huge bald eagle on top of the totem pole (the world’s largest) which towers 125 feet high in the park.

The south end of this Victoria, BC, park offers sweeping water views of Juan de Fuca Strait.

The view of Juan de Fuca Strait from Beacon Hill Park
The view of Juan de Fuca Strait from Beacon Hill Park (Credit: Adam Jones)

Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

For more information, see Beacon Hill Park.

3) Abkhazi Garden

This is the “garden that love built.”

And Abkhazi Garden is the teeniest of the five Victoria gardens covered here.

So purple! photo Abkhazi Garden
So purple! So pretty… Some of the flowers at Abkhazi Gardens

The small (one-acre) but oh-so-pretty West Coast garden was created by Peggy and her husband, Prince Nicholas Abkhazi, who settled in Victoria after reuniting post-World War II.

Nicholas and Peggy Abkhazi, who created Abkhazi Garden, Victoria
Nicholas and Peggy Abkhazi, who met in 1922, were both prisoners in WWII; they finally met again in 1946 and got married

Tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, Abkhazi Garden is very natural in design, playing up the shapes of the rocks, trees, bushes and alpine plants showcased.

There are magnificent oak trees, huge 50-year old rhododendrons with gracefully sculpted branching trunks, Japanese maples and duck ponds.

top 5 Victoria gardens - photo Abkhazi Garden
A hummingbird visits Abkhazi Garden

Nicolas especially liked waterfall effects.

So rock-hugging firs cascade down boulders in front of their former home, now a delightful tea house.

Abkhazi Garden has a delightful tea house
Abkhazi Garden has a delightful tea house
You might be lucky and see the Queen Elizabeth II cake on the menu; the spiced date cake has a citrus-infused coconut icing
Though the flowers may change throughout the year, the cheddar scones and currant scones are always on the menu at The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden

Abkhazi Garden, Victoria

Reservations are recommended for The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden.

For more information on the gardens, see Abkhazi Garden.

4) Government House

Open to the public, the Victoria gardens surrounding the official residence of British Columbia’s lieutenant governor include cut flower gardens, beautiful rose gardens, orchard and native plant sections, and more…

Flowers in bloom at Government House © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase

Discover shade-loving hostas, perky geraniums, a Garry oak woodland and apple, plum and quince trees.

Also enjoy the small waterfall and duck pond.

Victoria, BC, Government House Gardens

These gardens are free.

For more information, see the Government House gardens’ website.

5) Hatley Park National Historic Site

Grand in scale, this Edwardian estate once belonged to coal baron James Dunsmuir, a former premier of British Columbia.

He and his family lived in the lavish 40-room “castle” built in 1908.

White orchids imported from India graced the conservatory, and 120 gardeners and groundskeepers tended the formal gardens.

Today, Hatley Castle is part of the Hatley Park National Historic Site.

The gardens outside Hatley Castle (Credit: Nat_Venture on Instagram)

In summer, you can tour the rosewood-paneled rooms inside the stone mansion, now the administrative center for Royal Roads University.

Also be sure to smell the candy-colored roses in the walled rose garden, admire the boxwood-hedged Italian garden and explore the Japanese garden with its pond, well and stone lanterns.

top 5 Victoria gardens - Hatley Castle
Winter at Hatley Castle gardens (Credit: Sheri Terris)

Hatley Castle, Victoria

Guided walking estate tours are offered from mid-April to early September.

For more information, see Hatley Park Gardens.

Best time to visit these 5 Victoria, Canada, gardens?

In spring, bountiful rhodos and azaleas paint the city with huge splashes of hot pink. It’s probably the most beautiful time of the year in the garden city of Victoria.

But anytime from March to fall is a great time to visit the city and its gardens.

Victoria, the “City of Gardens”

People love to garden in Victoria!

Walk any of the neighborhoods in the city, and you’ll see that even the simplest of homes proudly boast colorful flower beds and pots.

Interestingly, the gardens are a little more untamed than the more manicured gardens we’ve seen elsewhere. They’re wilder, and some overflow with plants and bushes.  A few weeds? They’re allowed to grow. The lawns too are thicker and longer – not mowed as tightly. Dandelions pop up here and there. Victorians are staunch environmentalists, so this probably accounts for why their gardens look more natural.

Of course, the drier island climate has fostered a different ecosystem, creating one of the last refuges for Victoria’s beloved Garry Oaks – we have lots in our own back garden.

A majestic Garry Oak (Credit: L. Renninger for the Garry Oak Society)

Recommended reading: Have you visited Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden? You must!

Beautiful Victoria BC gardens

Where to stay in Victoria

Read our posts on:

Victoria Airbnbs | We love these 5 delightful Airbnbs in Victoria.

Victoria hotels | Check out our insider guide to the 7 best luxury hotels in Victoria. We’ve stayed at all of them!

Getting to Victoria from Vancouver?

See our post:
The Ferry From Vancouver to Victoria: A Complete Guide

Beautiful BC Guide

Pssst! See our British Columbia Travel Guide

It’s packed with lots of great info on unmissable destinations, wineries, secret places, cool things to do (like storm watching in Tofino!), epic hikes, taking the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria, the best time to visit and more!

More BC travel inspiration

Read these posts of ours!


Photo credits: 1 and 4 Butchart Gardens | Remaining photos courtesy the respective Victoria, BC, gardens, except where noted


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Marc

Monday 15th of June 2015

Hi Janice, first, great topic and wonderful pictures. I have been to the Butchart Gardens and It was wonderful. Unfortunately, We couldn't see the rest of it. We probably will do that next time.

Janice and George

Monday 15th of June 2015

Well, you saw the most famous gardens :-). And now you've got something to look forward to for your next visit to Victoria...

joan keeley

Monday 18th of May 2015

Gardens with ponds are the most precious exposure of beauty and I love them.

Carol Kozoway

Thursday 30th of April 2015

Nice photos.

Kimberly

Saturday 11th of April 2015

We were just in Victoria a few weeks ago and somehow missed Hatley Castle. It looks so neat, I'm disappointed we weren't able to see it! Next time we visit that will definitely be on our list. My husband and I are planning a trip back to Victoria this Summer and will be staying either at Abigail's or Magnolia - it's a tough choice! Great article, thanks!

Janice and George

Saturday 11th of April 2015

Hatley Castle is easy to miss because you have to drive out of Victoria a bit (and it's not as well-known as the Butchart Gardens). We wouldn't have known about it either if we didn't have the assignment to write the gardens article for Taste of Life magazine. You'll be happy at either Abigail's or Magnolia - and summer will be a great time to visit Victoria!

Suze

Friday 10th of April 2015

Abkhazi Garden looks wonderful, we have a Japanese garden in London - the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, it's one of my favourites!

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