May is a terrific month here in British Columbia. The weather is getting warmer, the rhododendrons go crazy and gardeners know it is time to plant, weed and feed. On Vancouver Island, between Port Hardy in the north and Victoria in the south, there are over 18 notable gardens to visit! Here, from north to south, is a brief overview:
Ronnings Garden is located at the head of Holberg Inlet 65 km west of Port Hardy on the gravel road to Cape Scott. Its two hectare site features twin monkey puzzle trees. Call 250-288-3724 for visitor information.
Shepard’s Garden, near Port McNeill, is a family garden of flowers and forest on a 1 1/2 hectare site. Bulbs and flowering shrubs provide an early display of color. Named for and by the owners, Bill and Marilyn Shepard, the number of perennials increases as they find new plants that will overwinter in the northern island climate.
Mystic Woods Nursery, just outside Campbell River, is a work in progress with an ever expanding display garden. This year the nursery is concentrating on unusual perennial grasses, herbs, trees and shrubs. Your Campbell River Bed & Breakfast hosts will be able to direct you to Mystic Woods.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens, founded and maintained by Brian Zimmerman, is near Courtenay and showcases over 3,000 rhododendrons in a wooded setting along with ferns, ponds and a labyrinth. Peak bloom time is through the end of June.
The Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park is in Comox and is known for a variety of stately trees, including oaks, and deodar cedars. Shrubs include hundreds of rhododendrons. Each spring thousands of annuals are planted in beds near the old lodge to provide a fabulous and colorful display all summer long. Our Courtenay Bed & Breakfast members will have all the information you need to enjoy a visit to both of these wonderful gardens.
The Old Rose Nursery is on Hornby Island, reached by ferry from Buckley Bay between Courtenay and Qualicum Beach. It boasts over 1000 varieties of roses and is open from June through mid-August.
Milner Gardens and Woodland between Qualicum Beach and Parksville is a 28 hectare property with a 4 hectare developed garden of stately lawns, beds and borders, a small orchard and hundreds of rhododendrons. Staying at our Nanaimo Bed & Breakfasts or our Errington Bed & Breakfast will put you just a leasurely drive away from Milner Gardens.
Dashwood Gardens is on a 1.6 hectare site near Stamp Falls Provincial Park and Port Alberni. It features thousands of daffodils and other bulbs. Peak viewing is in the spring.
Tofino Botanical Gardens boasts a specimen of the oldest living tree in the world, the alerce, as well as the giant Himalayan lily with its large waxy leaves. In the late spring the Himalayan lily produces flower spikes up to 4 meters high that bloom in July. The garden also has a compare and contrast presentation of plants from the Chilean Coastal Rainforest which has a similar climate to Clayoquot Sound but a very different evolutionary history. Of course the Tofino and Ucluelet area deserves a visit of more than one night, so book your Ucluelet Bed & Breakfast in advance of your visit.
Hazelwood Herb Farm, near Ladysmith, has over 500 species of plants which over the centuries have been considered herbs. Many are found in the formal garden designed to resemble the 18th century herb gardens of Europe. Medicinal and culinary herbs are grown in raised beds and sold in the gift shop. Quite likely our Ladysmith Bed & Breakfast hosts use herbs from Hazelwood Herb Farm as well!
Mayo Creek Gardens, at Lake Cowichan, is on a 1 hectare north facing slope and features rhododendrons and native plants in a complimentary display.
Duncan’s Providence Farm in the Cowichan Valley explodes with plant and animal life in the springtime. Visitors thrill to blossoms and lambs, fields and forests. Cowichan Valley Bed & Breakfasts are located nearby.
The grand daddy of them all, Butchart Gardens, is stunning at any time of year. Forget me nots and English daisies show their colors as do so many other spring flowers in April and May with the warmer and sunnier weather. Located on the Saanich Peninsula, several Saanich Bed & Breakfasts are close by for your accommodation needs.
Victoria is home to several other amazing gardens. The first is Abkhazi Garden, a heritage home and garden, created in 1946 by Prince Nicholas Abkhazi and Princess Peggy Abkhazi. It is a one acre garden with dramatic rocky outcroppings, Garry oaks and great vistas. Blooms are most prolific in late spring and early summer but the garden is spectacular all year round.
Finnerty Gardens, a part of the University of Victoria campus, is a lovely 1.6 hectare space boasting some 3000 trees and shrubs plus over 200 rhododendrons. It is an all year garden, but spring is especially vibrant.
Hatley Castle – Royal Roads is a 180 hectare forest . The Royal Roads section includes an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, croquet lawn, lakes and streams. The rose garden is at it’s best in early June, but has much to offer all year, with a number of unusual growing trees and shrubs.
Finally, Glendale Gardens and Woodlands is a two hectare garden in Conservation Park with a natural setting complimented by walking trails and bird viewing stations. It has a wonderful winter garden, the Doris Page, featuring grasses, flowering shrubs and trees. Spend at least a day exploring these Victoria area gardens by booking your stay at one of our Victoria Bed & Breakfasts.
However you choose to route your Vancouver Island garden tour, rest assured that your British Columbia Bed & Breakfast hosts will provide wonderfully comfortable rooms and great breakfasts to make garden hopping even more fun and exhilarating.