Part of Vancouver Island University and considered one of the 10 Best Public Gardens in Canada, Milner Gardens and Woodland combines 70 seaside acres of old-growth forest trails and rich, flower-dense gardens.
Overlooking the Strait of Georgia from its perch above on an ocean-side bluff, Milner Gardens and Woodland is a paradise filled to brimming with the seasonal blossoms of buttercups, cyclamen, viola, trillium, scilla, and daffodils, bluebells, lily-of-the valley, and forget-me-nots, not to mention flowering trees, and a veritable smorgasbord of rhododendrons nestled among the old-growth cedar and Douglas fir.
The Milner Gardens and Woodland are a wild, collector’s garden dating back to the early 1930’s and the stewardship of the estate’s original owners, Ray and Rina Milner. After Rina passed away, Ray married Veronica Fitzgerald, a talented woman with many years of garden knowledge already behind her.
Veronica Milner was firmly set against the forced, sterile, and manicured look of most North American gardens at the time. For her, a focus on native plants in natural settings was the rule, along with her gentle hand of guiding design – and Milner Gardens benefited from this, gaining renown and attracting the attention of celebrities, luminaries, and royalty from around the world.
The extensive and breathtaking rhododendron collection in the woodland garden – over 500 varieties! – owes much to not just Veronica Milner but noted rhododendron hybridizers Ted and Mary Greig, who were awarded the American Rhododendron Society Gold Medal in 1965. This part of the garden alone, is worth the visit.
Though she continued to live on the estate until her death in 1998, Veronica Milner donated it, along with Milner Gardens and Woodland, to Vancouver Island University in 1996. This donation brought the previously exclusive and wonderful Milner Gardens and Woodland into the public sphere. Now you too can wander the lush, woodland trails and enjoy tea in the sitting room, all of which was once reserved for visitors like Queen Elizabeth.
Milner Gardens and Woodland
2179 West Island Highway
Qualicum Beach, British Columbia
Milner Gardens Lodging
No matter what brings you here, there’s no better Vancouver Island lodging option than one of our member Bed and Breakfast inns. Our well-appointed, comfy rooms, delicious, hearty breakfasts, and insider’s knowledge of where to go and how to get there, will make your Vancouver Island getaway the best vacation ever!