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10 Must-Visit Gardens in Victoria and Vancouver: Butchart Gardens and Beyond

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VanDusen Botanical Garden

With a long growing season, mild temperatures, and a healthy amount of rainfall, British Columbia is a gardener’s paradise. For a little nature in the city, visit one of these remarkable displays in Victoria and Vancouver.

Victoria

The Butchart Gardens | @a.spargo

The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is the crowning jewel in BC’s impressive list of horticultural attractions, and an absolute must for anyone who loves display gardens. Operating for more than 100 years, Butchart is a National Historic Site that sprawls out over 22 hectares (55 acres) and boasts more than a million bedding plants. Every season offers new and exciting discoveries, with spring and summer being the perfect times to immerse yourself in a heady mix of colours and fragrances. In summer, visit on a Saturday evening to watch as the sun goes down and the skies light up with fireworks.

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Victoria Butterfly Gardens | Gardens BC/Daniel Mosquin

Victoria Butterfly Gardens

This indoor tropical jungle features interactions with 6,000 free-flying butterflies, tropical birds, tortoises, ducks, flamingos, geckos, iguanas, and more. The warm, humid environment contains biodiverse plants native to tropical rainforests with a carefully planned combination of trees, bushes, vines, and creepers. A new Insectarium houses insects and invertebrates from around the world in a jungle-like setting. The garden is located  five minutes from The Butchart Gardens.

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Horticulture Centre of the Pacific | Boomer Jerritt

Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

The public gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific feature four hectares (nine acres) of demonstration gardens, a hands-on Children’s Garden, and the largest outdoor bonsai garden in Canada. An additional 40 hectares (100 acres) of conservation park is home to endangered plant species and many native bird species.

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Abkhazi Garden | Scott McDonald

Abkhazi Garden

Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, this sophisticated heritage garden is known for its impressive trees and dramatic site. The couple toiled together on their labour of love for more than 40 years, and after their passing it was purchased and protected by the Land Conservancy. Enjoy lunch or high tea at the lovely on-site teahouse that makes use of ingredients grown in the garden.

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Hatley Castle | Tourism Vancouver Island

Hatley Park National Historic Site

Located at Royal Roads University, 25 minutes from downtown Victoria, this Edwardian estate has spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The site features a formal rose garden that follows Edwardian design as well as Japanese and Italian gardens. It also boasts 15 km (9 mi) of walking and hiking trails through old-growth forest, and a protected migratory bird sanctuary.

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Vancouver

Bloedel Conservatory | @post_photography

Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Conservatory

At 152 metres (498 feet) above sea level, this park offers expansive views from the highest point in Vancouver. The 52-hectare (128-acre) park includes a landscaped quarry garden, an arboretum with exotic and native trees, and the Bloedel Conservatory, located under a glass dome at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park. The Conservatory contains three climatic zones: Tropical, Subtropical, and Desert. It is home to more than 500 varieties of plants from around the world as well as more than 200 free-flying exotic birds.

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Nitobe Memorial Garden | Destination Canada

UBC Botanical Garden and Nitobe Memorial Garden

Both gardens are located within the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. The botanical garden features internationally recognized collections of magnolias and maples. Highlights include an Asian garden with more than 400 varieties of rhododendron, an alpine garden, a rainforest garden, and a herb food garden. Brave visitors can walk along the Greenheart TreeWalk eco-adventure, which provides a unique perspective from suspended walkways and tree platforms high above the forest floor. Nitobe Garden is ranked consistently in the top 5 Japanese Gardens in North America. A traditional tea and stroll garden, it features a ceremonial teahouse.

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VanDusen Botanical Garden | Tourism Vancouver/Sombilon Studios

VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 22-hectare (55-acre) oasis in the heart of Vancouver with more than 7,500 plant species and varieties from around the world. Visit mini recreations of ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean, from Louisiana swamps to the Pacific Northwest, and cherry blossoms shower the property in spring. Highlights include the Elizabethan hedge maze and the LEED-certified Visitor Centre, shaped like a giant orchid.

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden | Tanya Goehring

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Located in Vancouver’s Chinatown, this classical Chinese garden is modelled after the garden home of a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scholar. With its asymmetrical arrangement of rocks and plants, winding paths and corridors, and its courtyard vistas, this elegant garden emulates the rhythms of nature in the midst of the busy city.

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Stanley Park, Vancouver | Maurice Li

Stanley Park

Half a dozen gardens can be found throughout Vancouver’s iconic park, home to 10 kilometres (6 miles) of the ultra-scenic Seawall path that encircles the perimeter. These include the Stanley Park Rose Garden, which boasts more than 3,500 rose bushes and an arbour supporting climbing roses and clematis. Floral beds provide flowering bulb displays from March to May. The Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden has an extensive collection of hybrid rhododendron and azalea plants, at its peak during the first two weeks of May.

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Butchart Gardens | @melaniewonder

Gardens of BC

Learn more about the many other spectacular gardens around the province, as well as garden-based itineraries, at Gardens British Columbia

Discover More Gardens

Originally published in February, 2017.

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