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Vancouver Island Gardens

Thursday, February 17, 2022   /   by Hans Suhr

Vancouver Island Gardens

As we near Spring, and the sun comes out, we start to venture outside more. One of the first signs of spring are the flowers that start to pop up! If you are thinking of visiting some amazing gardens on Vancouver Island this spring and summer, check out this list:


 


The Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens


Cultivated with respect for the natural boundaries of the Vancouver Island landscape. The Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens in Courtenay are home to driftwood adornments along curving paths, lined with spectacular rhododendrons and blooming lupins. There are often caterpillars and butterflies, birds and more to view when visiting the gardens.


Bryan Zimmerman, the creator of the gardens, was greatly influenced by his surroundings, and let the landscape of his garden guide his hand in curating the gardens we know today. Zimmerman’s love for the rhododendrons shines through, with over 3000 planted throughout the gardens.


 


Milner Gardens


Named for Veronica Milner, these gardens were crafted with the passion of an experienced horticulturalist and with the international flair of a jet setter. Veronica travelled alongside her husband Ray, who was Kings Counsel, and collected various species of similar climates to showcase on the bluffs of the estate. Today, Milner Gardens in Parksville has strong English roots, and this seaside garden has even been graced by the royal family.


In true British fashion, Milner Gardens is also home to a tea house. From the comfort of the verandah, tea drinkers can see the gardens and ocean, while enjoying a scone with Devon cream.


 


Hatley Park Grounds


After strolling through the Japanese, Italian, and rose gardens at Hatley Castle, park your picnic basket in the expansive lawn. In one direction, you can admire the castle architecture, while an ocean view is just a head-turn away. The resident peacocks may even show their true colours, as they put on a show and parade around the grounds.


Built by coal baron James Dunsmuir, the grounds of the park were shaped into an estate for the family. The first to grace the grounds was the Japanese Garden. Petals of pink shower the lawns, thanks to cherry blossoms, and an island of rhodos is accessed by a small curved bridge. With their beginnings in 1913, the Italian gardens are rooted in the traditions of the style, and today are an excellent representation. For the romantics, the Rose Garden’s stunning features, including a pergola, and June bloom should be a midsummer stop.


 


Abkhazi Gardens


The history of the Abkhazi Gardens in Victoria is a testament to its creators: Prince Nicholas Abkhazi and Peggy Pemberton-Carter—both survivors of the Second World War. Hardships plagued Peggy and Nicholas before the war as well: Peggy was orphaned young and had a difficult upbringing, while Nicholas was a penniless prince after fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution. The then pen-pals were both interned, released and reunited in America 13 years later. Married shortly thereafter, the couple started their life together in Victoria, where Peggy had already purchased the property and had started to lay the groundwork for the gardens.


It’s clear that the gardens were a passion project for the couple; a creative outlet after years of difficulties. A visit to the gardens today shows the native Garry Oaks that have stood throughout the history of the garden, and travelers can follow the same tour Peggy had given herself.