• Ron Kirstein

Three for the Price of One

Victoria has been called the “City of Gardens” and for a very good reason. We live in a temperate climate and plants grow very well here! Some of the homeowner yards around the city are good enough to put on this suggested list. Butchart Gardens, well everyone knows about it. It is our number one tourist destination in Victoria! It is world-famous and for a very good reason.




One of these three really good gardens has a modest fee, the others are Free. Can you believe that!


The Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP), maintains and makes available a year-round garden experience that all can enjoy. It is located just twelve kilometers north of Downtown Victoria. This amazing public garden is lovingly cared for by volunteers, staff, and students from the Pacific Horticulture College which is on-site.

At the centre you will discover a hands-on Children’s Garden and the largest outdoor Bonsai Garden in Canada, and the only outdoor bonsai Garden in Western Canada. At this beautiful and diverse garden, all the plants have label signs so which help you identify what you are looking at. Look for and meet the knowledgeable staff and volunteers who will always be happy to be of assistance. This is a gardener’s garden that connects people with plants. There are old-growth trees there and beautiful walks through the trees. If you are lucky you may find a special event taking place. This garden is well worth a visit. Before or after your visit, check out the quaint little restaurant on-site, Charlotte & the Quail! It is located at 505 Quale Road, Victoria BC, V9E 2A7 (regular admission is $12 for adults or $9 for seniors and students).





The second garden you may wish to visit is at the Royal Roads University campus in Colwood. Here you can experience the tranquility of the Hatley Park estate and enjoy a Guided Walking Estate Tour that will take you on a 1-hour journey to learn about the significant history of the Indigenous lands, Dunsmuir family, Royal Roads Military College and Royal Roads University. Unlike other museums you may have visited, Hatley Castle is a ‘living building’ and is occupied by Royal Roads University administration offices, classes, and events. Their guided tour experience will include access to the first floor of Hatley Castle, the lower level museum, and the surrounding gardens. Access to Hatley Castle is only available via a guided tour. To protect our gardens, we do not permit dogs in the gated garden areas.

The other option is to walk the gardens. There is a beautiful Japanese garden and a traditional European Garden (Italian Garden)! You cannot do a tour of the castle unless you are guided. The gardens when in bloom are wonderful. There are majestic old-growth trees throughout the Japanese Garden and also throughout the entire property. If you came by car or cycle take the drive around the property by road. Or if you are energetic go for a hike on one of the many trails! These gardens are dramatic and they are currently FREE. Start your tour at the Castle. Public Parking is between the Castle and the lagoon!




The third garden that you should take a look at is Finnerty Gardens, a public woodland garden located on and maintained by the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Its main feature is the sizeable collection of rhododendrons artfully arranged throughout the 2.7-hectare site. It is located at the University of Victoria, University Dr, Victoria, BC V8P 3E6

The first part of the garden is located by the Interfaith Chapel. The second part is across the road when you have passed through the first garden and come out at a road. Cross over for more beauty! This is best to see during rhododendron season (spring). There is no admission fee but you do have to find parking and you will have to pay for that.




Here are a few others you may wish to visit if you are a gardening fanatic!

Government House

Beacon Hill Park

Abkhazia Gardens and Tea Houses

Playfair Park in Saanich