They come by the busload daily to stroll the ornate and visually stunning horticulture at Butchart Gardens, and if that is not wilderness enough for you, then consider nearby options. Butchart Gardens is the site of an incredible transformation — a worked-out quarry remade into 22 hectares of flowerbeds and gardens. The quarry was originally mined for the Portland Cement Company, a few remnants of which are protected within the northern extent of adjacent Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. See below.
Island of gardens
While Butchart Gardens is the best known of Vancouver Island’s gardens, it is just one of a rich assortment of gardens and sanctuaries that can form a trail of sorts from Victoria to Cape Scott.
Glendale Gardens and Woodlands: This 40-hectare nature conservancy is a demonstration garden north of Victoria open year-round.
Finnerty Gardens: A Lake Cowichan estate provided the many rhododendrons, magnolias and perennials in 1974 that today compose this four-hectare garden on the University of Victoria campus.
Abkhazi Garden: A heritage home in Victoria created by Georgian Prince and Princess Abkhazi in 1946, the garden is a conservancy along with a tea room and gift shop.
Hatley Park National Historic Site: This garden dates back to 1912 when the Dunsmuir coal baron family had this Colwood property developed into a classic Edwardian park. It eventually changed hands to become the Royal Roads Military College, then finally Royal Roads University. Today the grounds still showcase the Japanese, rose and Italian gardens.
Providence Farm: This 72-hectare working farm provides therapy, vocational training and rehabilitation by the Sisters of St. Ann near Mount Tzouhalem in the Cowichan Valley. A store, an arts program, hanging baskets and events such as plant sales, craft fairs and a hoedown help finance the program.
Mayo Creek Gardens: This two-hectare property in the Cowichan Valley combines native and cultivated plants to keep the grounds in harmony with the natural environment. Expect workshops, tours, teas and other programs.
Milner Gardens and Woodland: This Qualicum Beach property combines 24 hectares of Douglas-fir woodland with four hectares of manicured garden at the site of the Milner homestead built in 1937; in 1996 it was acquired by Nanaimo’s Malaspina University-College and dutifully maintained.
Tofino Botanical Gardens: Paths and boardwalks lead across five hectares of gardens, including a frog pond, children’s garden and pocket forest gardens that showcase the area’s coastal temperate rainforest ecology.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens: This 10-hectare property features trails through about 3,000 varieties of rhododendrons as well as native plants and wildflowers.
Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park: Located in Comox. Link to come for more info!
Shepard’s Garden: This small, 1.6-hectare garden started in 1991 features bulbs and perennials in a setting along the Nimpkish River near Port McNeill. A trail leads to the river through the rhododendron garden and a forest with old-growth trees.
Ronning’s Garden: A north Vancouver Island oddity. Link to come for more info!