There’s just something about gardens – the life, the change with the seasons, the flurry of insect and subsequent pollination activity. It’s like soft-core porn for horticulturalists and landscapers alike. (Well, kinda.)
On my most recent trip to Victoria, British Columbia (BC), I visited not one, but two gardens: the gardens of the Edwardian Hatley Castle estate (media pass) and Butchart Gardens (paid full admission). Both were lovely.
First, your Hedonista visited the grounds of Hatley Castle, known as the Hatley Park National Historic Site. Located in Colwood, BC, these grounds served as the Royal Roads Military College from the 1940s until 1995, after which time it was converted over to the public Royal Roads University. The grounds are lovely; they include a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden, and an Italian Garden. Entrance fees range from free to $48, depending on the following: the age of the attendees; the size of the party;whether or not both the garden and the castle are included; whether or not the tour is guided or not (and, if guided, the length of the tour); and the time of year.
Next, I visited Butchart Gardens. Yet another National Historic Site of Canada, these gardens boast “Over 100 Years in Bloom” to-date. It all started with Jennie Butchart’s plan to turn her and her husband Robert’s old limestone rock quarry into a thing of beauty. (She succeeded.)
Located on Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula and with 55 acres (22 hectares) of gardens situated on this 130 acre (53 hectare) estate, seeing the blooms isn’t all there is: they also have extensive food and beverage offerings, including The Dining Room Restaurant, The Coffee Shop, and The Blue Poppy Restaurant (with seeds to grow the latter available at the gift shop or from their online shop). They even host an afternoon tea. Admission rates range from $2.00 to $29.60, and depend on the season, age of the attendee, and group size (they even offer next-day readmission for a small fee).
So if you’re hankerin’ to see (and spend) some green (or multi-colo(u)rs, be you in the Canadian way), these two Vancouver Island gardens might just be ticket (pun intended).