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

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.

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

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

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 gardens in Victoria, BC

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 great beaches in Victoria

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, Jenny 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 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.
The Sunken Garden has over 150 flower beds

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

Oh, and let’s not forget the Mediterranean Garden. The 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) recently honored it with an Award of Excellence.

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

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, Gruyere tartlets, chocolate cream puffs 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 fiery 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 25- to 30-minute drive from Victoria.

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

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 park.

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

Flowers in bloom at Beacon Hill Park
Flowers in bloom at Beacon Hill Park

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 five 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, who created Abkhazi Garden, Victoria
Nicholas and Peggy Abkhazi settled in Victoria after reuniting post-WWII

They met in Paris in 1922, and later were both prisoners in WWII.

After finally meeting up 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.

The Teahouse:

Mmmm... What's for afternoon tea at Abkhazi Garden?
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 mararons), 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

Flowers in bloom at Government House

The Victoria gardens surrounding the official residence of British Columbia’s lieutenant governor are open to the public.

They 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.

Also enjoy the small waterfall and duck pond.

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 encompassed 9 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.

The gardens outside Hatley Castle
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

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

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

For more information, see the Hatley Park Gardens website.

Best time of year to visit these 5 Victoria, BC, 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.

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.

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

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


Photo credits: 20 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 5 to 8, 11 Butchart Gardens | 16 to 19 Abkhazi Gardens | 21 Hatley Castle


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!

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!