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.
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!
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?)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3) Abkhazi Garden
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.
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.
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.
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.
4) Government House public gardens
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!
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 a National Historic Site of Canada.
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.
6) 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!
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.
7) Horticulture Centre of the Pacific
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!
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.
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.
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?
How to get to Victoria? See our post on taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria (a complete guide)
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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