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It’s Blooming at These 7 Beautiful Gardens in Victoria, BC!

It’s dubbed the “City of Gardens” in Canada.

And for good reason.

Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria – the capital of British Columbia (or BC) – 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.

We love all the beautiful Victoria, BC, gardens!
We love all the beautiful gardens in Victoria!

Victoria: The city of gardens

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!

Tulips and other flowers bloom at the Victoria Inner Harbour in spring
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Victoria, but flowers still bloom as late as November

Then come March, 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 65,245,471,605 blooms in 2021.

(Can you think of anything more gentle fun than to count flowers?)

Bright pink azaleas in Victoria, BC
Daffodils peek up as early as February in Victoria; tulips usually bloom in March and azaleas color the city in April and May

Best gardens in Victoria, BC

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

1) Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens are the most famous gardens in Victoria, BC.
The Butchart Gardens are the most famous gardens in Victoria

In the early 1900s, Jennie Butchart wanted to beautify the former limestone quarry her husband had mined. With topsoil transported by horse and cart to the abandoned pit, she set about creating a 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, along with various water features.

Jennie’s vision turned into the famous Butchart Gardens.

Jennie Butchart
Jennie Butchart (1866 – 1950)

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.

The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens has over 150 flower beds.
Butchart’s sunken garden has over 150 flower beds

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

To see magnificent displays of beautiful bedding plants and annual flowers in a rainbow of vibrant colors, head to the famous sunken garden from spring to fall.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Mediterranean garden. This lush garden isn’t very big, but its cypresses, lilies, verbena and tree poppies are a joy to see in summer.

There’s also an interesting Star Pond with a frog fountain rising from the middle. Tulips and other annuals line the 12 points of the star in pops of color from spring to fall.

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

The Rose Garden – home to some 2,500 rose bushes – is wonderful too.

The World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) honored it with an Award of Excellence in 2018.

Smell the roses at Butchart Gardens.
Smell the roses at Butchart Gardens!

No matter when you visit, this grand garden is sure to impress you in every season.

Enjoy the cherry blossoms and tulips in spring, walk under the rose arch in summer and experience the red and gold colors of the Japanese garden in fall.

These famous gardens in Canada are even beautiful in winter!

Beautiful light displays, greenery and even a skating rink are installed for the Christmas season.

Butchart Gardens tea:

Tea and gardens go hand-in-hand.

So treat yourself to high tea, served in the original Butchart family home.

The Butchart Gardens tea house is an elegant spot for high tea.
The Butchart Gardens tea house is an elegant spot for high tea

The menu changes. But the signature house scones with strawberry jam and Devon-style cream don’t.

Other delicacies might include miniature smoked salmon quiches, goat cheese roulade, Cowichan Valley chicken, chocolate ganache torte and English trifle.

Reservations are highly recommended. (See here for booking details.)

Butchart Gardens fireworks:

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

If you visit in the summer months, don’t miss the spectacular Saturday evening fireworks.

Pioneered by Jennie Butchart’s great-grandson, the fireworks show is choreographed to music.

Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC

The Butchart botanical gardens are located in Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula, about a 30- to 35-minute drive from Victoria.

Need a lift from downtown Victoria? This best-selling tour of the gardens includes the drive to and from Butchart Gardens, with narration on the way, plus your entrance tickets. At Butchart, you explore the enchanting gardens yourself at your own pace.

For more information on this popular tourist destination, see the website for Butchart Gardens.

2) Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is one of the most popular gardens in Victoria, used by many people every day.
Beacon Hill Park is one of the most popular gardens in Victoria (and free), used by many people every day

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.

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…

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 public park.

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

Flowers at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC
Flowers in bloom at Beacon Hill Park

Bottom line?

This beautiful garden haven offers an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Enjoy the weeping willows hanging out over the ponds and the garden beds bursting with color.

Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

For more information, see Beacon Hill Park.

3) Abkhazi Garden

The Abkhazi Garden may be small, but it's one of the most beautiful gardens in Victoria, Canada.
The Abkhazi Garden may be small, but it’s one of the most beautiful gardens in Victoria, Canada

This one-acre property is the teeniest of the seven Victoria gardens covered here.

But Abkhazi Garden is a special one – it’s the “garden that love built.”

The oh-so-pretty West Coast garden was created by Peggy and her husband, Prince Nicholas Abkhazi, an exiled Georgian prince.

Nicholas and Peggy Abkhazi settled in Victoria after reuniting post-WWII – and created Abkhazi Garden

They first met in Paris in 1922, then kept in touch over the years. During WWII, Nicholas was captured after joining the French army, and Peggy was a prisoner in Shanghai.

After meeting up once again in 1946, they got married, Peggy became Princess Abkhazi and the couple settled in Victoria.

Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, 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, ferns, heather, Japanese maples and a variety of native plants, along with serene duck ponds.

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

Nicolas especially liked waterfall effects.

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

You’ll also find choice alpines, naturalized bulbs and many other plants tucked into these rocky slopes.

As you stroll along the walking paths and climb the stairs around one of the top display gardens in Victoria, you’re sure to be impressed by the variety of flowers, trees and shrubs found here.

The Teahouse:

Afternoon tea at Abkhazi Garden, Victoria
Mmmm… What’s for afternoon tea at Abkhazi Garden?

Afternoon tea is a true delight at the teahouse, nestled in the gardens.

Menus feature produce and herbs from Abkhazi-grown plants when in season. Choose from the 4-course Royal Abkhazi High Tea (from smoked salmon blini with crème fraiche to macarons), the “regular” afternoon tea or Elevenses.

And while the flowers may change throughout the year, the ever-popular cheddar scones and currant scones are always on the menu.

The scones are always a hit at the Abkhazi Garden tea house.
The scones are always a hit at the Abkhazi Garden tea house

Abkhazi Garden, Victoria

The Abkhazi Garden is located at 1964 Fairfield Road in Victoria.

And how sweet is this! Admission is by donation.

Reservations are recommended for The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden.

For more information on the gardens, see Abkhazi Garden.

4) Government House public gardens

Roses at Government House Gardens, Victoria
Flowers in bloom at Government House

The extensive Victoria gardens surrounding the official residence of British Columbia’s lieutenant governor (the Queen’s representative) are open to the public.

With 36 acres of gardens and native woodlands, the estate has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. For many decades, the gardens have been lovingly looked after by a society of volunteer gardeners.

Themed gardens include cut flower gardens, beautiful rose gardens, orchard and native plant sections, and more.

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

Look carefully, and in spring and summer, you can spot dozens of hummingbirds flitting about and feasting on scarlet-bloomed juniperina bushes.

Also enjoy the small waterfall and duck pond. You might see deer wandering about too!

Victoria, BC, Government House Gardens

Located at 1401 Rockland Avenue, these gardens are free.

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

5) Hatley Park National Historic Site

The gardens at Hatley Castle are among the 5 best gardens in Victoria, BC
The Edwardian gardens at Hatley Castle encompass several formal “garden rooms”

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 a National Historic Site of Canada.

Japanese garden at Hatley Castle gardens, Victoria, BC
The Japanese garden is a very Zen place to be

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

Outside in the gardens at Hatley Castle, 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.

There’s plenty of space to explore outside of the formal gardens too – the estate is 650-acres after all!

For something a little different, take a walk through the beautiful old growth forest, which features 250-year-old Douglas firs.

Hatley Castle, Victoria

The Hatley Park National Historic Site is located at 2005 Sooke Road in the greater Victoria area, about a 25-minute drive from downtown Victoria.

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

For more information, see the Hatley Park Gardens website.

6) Finnerty Gardens

It’s all about the rhodos at Finnerty Gardens

We adore rhodos in all their pretty pink, purple and white colors.

And one of the best gardens in Canada to see rhododendrons is Finnerty Gardens, located at the University of Victoria.

We can thank Jeanne Buchanan Simpson for this.

She and her husband began collecting and growing rhodos in the 1920s. Over the years, they gathered the largest collection of rhododendrons in British Columbia.

When Jeanne passed away in 1974, she left her estate to the university.

The university decided to transplant the rhododendrons to create a new garden space at the southern end of campus.

And so these plants created the basis for Finnerty Gardens!

An impressive bamboo grove at Finnerty Gardens, Victoria, BC
An impressive bamboo grove at Finnerty Gardens

Today, the gardens are very well known for their rhododendron collection.

Now you can see over 200 species of rhododendrons and azaleas there, as well as 1,600 different types of trees and shrubs.

The rhododendrons and azaleas can be seen blooming from mid-January to late-June. Visit in April or May for peak season!

But you can enjoy these lovely Victoria, Canada, gardens year-round.

Meander along the winding shaded paths beneath towering trees and among the colorful blooming shrubs. And listen to the songs of the many different types of birds perching in the trees.

Also delight in the ducks floating in the creek that runs through the gardens.

Finnerty Gardens, Victoria

Finnerty Gardens is located along University Drive on the campus of the University of Victoria.

Parking Lot 6 at 3800 Ring Road is the closest lot and costs $1.50 per hour.

For more information, visit the Finnerty Gardens’ website.

7) Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

Bonsai tree at Horticulture Centre of the Pacific
Don’t you love the wavy shapes of Bonsai trees?

Formerly the Glendale Gardens and Woodland, the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (or Gardens at HCP for short) weaves horticulture education in with public gardens.

You’ll find a wide variety of gardens here, including the largest outdoor Bonsai garden in Canada, a native plant garden, the Doris Paige winter garden and even a vegetable garden.

If you love a natural landscape, then a visit to their conservation park is a must. This 100-acre site is free, and you’ll find second-growth Douglas firs around a large wetland area. It’s the best place to walk or ride your bicycle.

Other popular HCP gardens include a cutting garden, a lily garden and a Mediterranean garden. With so much variety, this is one of the best gardens to see in BC!

Roses at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific
Yes, these gardens have roses too!

While most people choose to do a self-guided tour, you can schedule a guided tour with one of the volunteers who work at the gardens.

You can find more information on booking a guided tour here. Note that these need to be booked at least two weeks in advance.

The cafe, Charlotte & the Quail, serves a brunch-style menu that changes often, with many different drink options. It’s open seasonally so make sure to check the website for hours.

When visiting the Gardens at HCP, you’ll also want to pop into their gift shop.

Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, Victoria

Located at 505 Quayle Road, the entrance fee is $12. It’s approximately a 20-minute drive north of Victoria.

For more information visit the Gardens at HCP’s website.

Best time of year to see the flowering and botanical gardens in Victoria, BC?

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.

Summer ushers in its own pleasures – roses are in bloom, along with big blue hydrangeas.

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

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

Wonderful gardens in Victoria, Canada

People love to garden in Victoria!

It helps that we have a mild coastal climate – the urban gardening season here is longer than in most other provinces in Canada.

Walk the neighborhoods in the city (from Fernwood to Fairfield, James Bay to Oak Bay), and you’ll see that even the simplest of homes proudly boast colorful flower beds and pots.

Interestingly, many of the residential gardens of Victoria 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 magnificent native species of Garry Oaks – we have lots in our own back garden.

A majestic Garry Oak in Victoria, BC.
 A majestic Garry Oak (Credit: L. Renninger for the Garry Oak Society)

More British Columbia gardens: Have you visited Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden? You must!

Now you know about the top gardens in Victoria, British Columbia!

The Butchart botanical gardens may be the most famous garden in Victoria, BC.

But you really can’t go wrong visiting any of these popular attractions.

No matter the season, you’ll be surprised what you can find. The mild climate of Victoria means that there’s something beautiful to be seen most of the year (except perhaps in the dead of winter, like January).

These Victoria gardens make it easy to enjoy the outdoors in beautiful tranquil settings. So which will you choose to visit first?

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 best luxury hotels in Victoria. We’ve personally stayed at (or inspected) most of them!

How to get to Victoria? See our post on taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria (a complete guide)


Share the garden love and pin to Pinterest!


Photo credits: 17, 21, 25, 26 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 7, 9 to 14 Butchart Gardens | 18 to 20, 22 to 24 Abkhazi Gardens | 27 Government House BC | 28 Hatley Castle | 32, 33 Horticulture Centre of the Pacific


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Duana Mchugh

Thursday 20th of January 2022

You need to add Glendale gardens (horticulture center of the pacific) and Finnerty gardens at the University of Victoria.

Janice and George

Friday 21st of January 2022

Thank you! You've given us two more good ideas to add :-).

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!