Victoria BC Gardens carry an imprint of British Days of the city.
Any place with British influence has well-maintained gardens – be it Botanic Gardens of Singapore or Royal Botanic Garden of Kandy. Victoria BC also has its share of lovely gardens – that are perfect for walking, for spending time with nature and to witness the diversity of nature.
Here is my list of must-see Victoria BC Gardens.
Without a doubt, Butchart Gardens are the most popular of Victoria BC Gardens.
Butchart Gardens History
Butchart gardens were built a century ago by Jennie Butchart when she came to Victoria BC with her husband Robert Butchart. Robert was here for limestone mining for the rising demand for cement. Once the limestone exhausted, Mrs. Butchart decided to convert the barren quarry into a garden. Yes, Butchart gardens took birth in the pit of a limestone quarry that was covered with a layer of fresh soil. You can still see a tall chimney from the Sunken garden as a memorial of its roots.
Soon many other gardens were added to the estate.
It was their grandson Ian Ross who converted Butchart Gardens into an international tourist destination that it is today. He received gardens as a gift on his 21st birthday. And he spent his life nurturing them. He introduced outdoor concerts that continue to happen every summer in the gardens. He started Christmas celebrations in the gardens. In fact, when I visited Butchart Gardens in November, Christmas preparations were in full swing. Plants and trees were being pruned. Christmas lights were being hanged. Mild maidens were being dressed.
Butchart Gardens are designated National Historic Site of Canada.
Gardens at Butchart Gardens
Sunken Garden where you can see the lovely Ross Fountain.
Butchart Gardens is really a collection of many gardens in a single space. Sunken garden is where the quarry was.
Italian Garden came up on the Butchart’s tennis court. This is a lovely place to stand and you would almost feel ported to Italy.
There is Rose garden where in the season you would see lots of roses. My guide told me that Mr. Butchart brought a lot of exotic birds including peacocks to these gardens, supplementing his wife’s efforts.
The Japanese garden is probably the most loved part of Butchart Gardens. I enjoyed walking around the Japanese garden, where you keep crossing small bridges across small streams. There are small corners that give you a private space within this vast public space. You can easily sit and have a quiet conversation here. I was told Japanese Gardens at Butchart Gardens is a favorite place for couples to propose. So, be prepared to see some romance in the air with someone on his knees proposing to his beloved.
Japanese Gardens at Butchart Gardens are located on the seaside. Besides the garden, there is a water activity area called Butchart Cove.
In between gardens, there are ponds, fountains and canopied walkways. Perfect for a leisurely walk.
Best Time to visit Butchart Gardens
You can visit the gardens anytime but here is a seasonal spread if you would like to choose:
- Spring for colorful flowering blooms
- Summer for all kinds of colorful flowers
- Fall for the lovely fall colors – I can vouch for the absolute brilliant colors I saw at Butchart Gardens – almost all shades of Gold and Red.
- Christmas time (which is most of December) – for the Christmas decorations
- Rest of Winter I am told is peaceful at Butchart Gardens.
Saturdays for fireworks and other entertainment events. Check their calendar.
You can have your own event at the Butchart Gardens – a wedding or a birthday party or a family gathering or an office team offsite.
I was told you can buy an annual pass that allows you any number of entries during the year. It makes sense if you are a local or a frequent visitor to Victoria BC gardens.
Butchart Garden Restaurants
There are 3 restaurants inside the garden complex.
The Dining Room restaurant is located in the home of Butcharts. It is popular for the English Afternoon Tea all year long. Seasonally, it also serves lunch and dinner.
The Blue Poppy restaurant is a cafeteria-style restaurant. Coffee Shop for a quick bite of sandwiches or just coffee.
I liked the fact that they actively discourage the use of disposable cups and glasses. You are encouraged to bring your water bottle that you can refill at water fountains.
There are the mandatory visitor center and Souvenir shop,
Butchart Gardens Map
A Butchart Gardens Map can be seen right at the entrance. This would help you plan your trail. You can also have a pdf of the map from their website.
Butchart Gardens are not really in the city but about 30-40 min drive from the city. There are Butchart Garden Tours by companies like CVS tours that would take you to the Butchart Gardens and bring you back. There are city buses and a shuttle that you can take.
Keep at least half a day for exploring Butchart Gardens.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Butterfly Garden is one of those Victoria BC gardens that are not. Yes, Victoria Butterfly gardens is an enclosed garden with a controlled rainforest-like environment. You enter the garden through its souvenir shop cum ticketing counter.
In the winters, I had to take off my jacket to feel comfortable in the garden. Through a maze, you go through various parts of the garden chasing the butterflies. There are tables with fruits like apples, banana, star fruit and sweet lime to attract butterflies. This is where you see the whole bunch of them.
There is an artificial stream with a flamingo couple who were constantly drinking water. Some baby turtles were lazing on a log of wood while some others were walking around.
There are colorful birds like Macaws and parrots. They will keep you engaged with their tantrums and shrill calls. If you persist some of them will come and sit on your hands.
A Buddha sits in the quiet corner in the middle of a small stream.
You can easily spend 1-2 hours here.
Victoria Butterfly Garden is on the way to Butchart Gardens. In Fact, a Butchart Garden Tour includes a stop at Victoria Butterfly gardens but you need to buy your own entry tickets.
For Victoria Butterfly Gardens timings check out their website.
Read More – Open Air Butterfly Conservatory in Goa
Government House Gardens – Most Beautiful of Victoria BC Gardens
Government house in Victoria BC is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The house has 36 acres of garden space with the unique Garry Oak ecosystem. If you are wondering what is Gerry Oak ecosystem, it is an ecosystem surrounding the local variety of oak trees named after Nicolas Garry of Hudson Bay Company. Read more on this link.
Gardens at Government House in Victoria BC are traditional English gardens. I entered through the gates, walking from the Craigdarroch Castle nearby. As soon as I entered I saw the tall trees of mid-fall. Half the leaves were on the ground and half on the trees, ready to shed anytime.
The most beautiful part of these Victoria BC gardens is the peace and quite unlike other gardens that are full of people. What I liked the most was the quiet sitting places. A bench beneath a tall triangular tree, another below a short tree, another beneath a canopy. I wish I could sit and read some poetry there.
As I walked a bit inside the garden, it started appearing more like a jungle. I even spotted a deer jumping around. How wonderful!
If you have to choose one garden in Victoria BC, visit the Government House Gardens. This is what all the locals also told me and as they say, never underestimate the power of local knowledge.
Government House Gardens are open from dusk to dawn. In the morning and evening, you will meet some regular walkers.
Beacon Park Hill
Beacon Hill Park is a complete destination in itself. Imagine it has two walking trails, few ponds, a couple of playgrounds and petting zoo. I walked close to this park one morning and then I drove through the park on my hop on hop off tour.
The park gets its name from the beacon on top of the hill. For a long time, this was the municipal park of the city of Victoria.
The crowning glory of the Beacon Hill Park in Victoria BC is the tallest Totem Pole built by the master craftsman Martin Mungo.
Read More – History of First Nations and Totem Poles
Beacon Hill is a perfect place for a morning walk. During my walk, I came across peacocks roaming in the park, something that I was not expecting in Victoria BC. They were next to a giant sculpture of a tea kettle.
Abkhazi gardens are historic as they belonged to a Prince named Abkhazi. However, today it is a tea house. You can also get a 45-min guided tour of the garden.
I could not visit it due to the paucity of time. Or may you should always leave something to come back to.
Victoria BC gardens are huge, well maintained and it would be an understatement to say – Beautiful.
I am usually running after the museum and cultural spaces but in the gardens and parks in Victoria BC pulled me more than other places.
It is a perfect destination for those looking for nature soaked holiday or if like me you love walking.
Read more Canada Travelogues: