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

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With a long growing season, mild temperatures, and a healthy amount of rainfall, British Columbia is a gardener’s paradise. In Victoria,  The Butchart Gardens is a must for many visitors. Ranked by USA Today, CNN, and National Geographic as one of the top display gardens in the world, it covers 22 hectares (55 acres) with over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties.

While the gardens are indeed impressive, there are many other beautiful landscapes to explore in BC. Below, we’ve highlighted 10 must-visit gardens in Victoria and Vancouver, as profiled by Gardens British Columbia.

Victoria

Victoria Butterfly Gardens

A black, blue, and green butterfly perched on a cluster of red flowers.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Photo: @christie1973 via Instagram

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 in Brentwood Bay north of Victoria, five minutes from The Butchart Gardens.

Finnerty Gardens

Finnerty Gardens at the University of Victoria.

Finnerty Gardens at the University of Victoria. Photo: Scott McDonald

One of Canada’s best collections of rhododendrons can be found at the University of Victoria. The garden contains over 4,000 different trees and shrubs with more than 1,500 rhododendron and azalea plants, including 200 collected rhododendron species, and a spectacular range of companion plants.

The Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

A lush, green garden on a sunny day.

The Horticultural Centre of the Pacific is north of downtown Victoria. Photo: Boomer Jerritt

One of Canada’s top gardens, this property features 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.

Abkhazi Garden

Spring in Abkhazi garden.

Spring in Abkhazi garden. Photo: Scott McDonald

Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, this sophisticated heritage garden is known for its impressive trees and dramatic site. A lovely on-site tearoom makes use of ingredients grown in the garden.

Hatley Park National Historic Site

The exterior of Hatley Park National Historic Site is surrounded by meticulous landscaping.

Hatley Park National Historic Site. Photo: @ScottinVictoria via Twitter

Located at Royal Roads University, a 25-minute drive 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, a protected migratory bird sanctuary, and a historic First Nations’ site.

Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park & Quarry Gardens and the Bloedel Conservatory

An abundance of fall foliage at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.

Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. Photo: @happytowander via Instagram

At 152 metres (498 feet) above sea level, this park offers the highest point in Vancouver with lovely green views. The 52-hectare (128-acre) park includes a landscaped quarry garden, the 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.

UBC Botanical Garden and Nitobe Memorial Garden

A cherry blossom tree in full bloom stands next to a small pond at UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden.

Cherry Blossoms at UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden. Photo: Destination Canada

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 over 400 kinds of rhododendrons, an alpine garden, a rainforest garden, and a herb food garden. A unique attraction is 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.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden.

VanDusen Botanical Garden. Photo: VanDusen Botanical Garden

This elegant landscape spans 22 hectares (55 acres) with plant species representing ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean, from Louisiana swamps to the Pacific Northwest. Cherry blossoms shower the property in spring.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

A bike with a wagon attached sits outside the stone exterior of the Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Photo: @maggable via Instagram

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 courtyard vistas, the garden emulates the rhythms of nature in the midst of the busy city.

Stanley Park

About half a dozen gardens can be found throughout Vancouver’s iconic park. These include the Stanley Park Rose Garden, which boasts over 3,500 rose bushes and an arbour supporting climbing roses and clematis. Floral display 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; it’s at its peak during the first two weeks of May.

For a directory of gardens in BC and garden-based itineraries, see Gardens British Columbia.

Opening image: Nitobe Memorial Garden. Photo: Destination Canada