It’s dubbed the “City of Gardens.” And for good reason. Victoria (the capital of British Columbia, or BC, in 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!
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 44,588,324,077 blooms in 2019. (Can you think of a more fun thing to do than count flowers?)
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).
1) Butchart Gardens
In the early 1900s, Jenny Butchart wanted to beautify the limestone quarry her husband Robert had mined.
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.
Today, 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 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 2,5000 rose bushes – is wonderful too. The World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) recently honored it with an Award of Excellence.
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.
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 park.
The south end of this Victoria, BC, park offers sweeping water views of Juan de Fuca Strait.
3) Abkhazi Garden
This is the “garden that love built.”
And Abkhazi Garden is the teeniest of the five Victoria gardens covered here.
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.
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.
Nicolas especially liked waterfall effects.
So rock-hugging firs cascade down boulders in front of their former home, now a delightful tea house.
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…
Discover shade-loving hostas, perky geraniums, a Garry oak woodland and apple, plum and quince trees.
Also enjoy the small waterfall and duck pond.
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.
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.
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Photos 1 and 4 Butchart Gardens | Remaining photos courtesy the respective Victoria, BC, gardens, except where noted