David Laws (August 5, 2018)
It’s not California and I hesitate to call it historic, it’s younger than me, but if you are ever in Victoria, British Colombia and are seeking a more intimate and a little less over-the-top horticultural experience than Butchart Gardens, I recommend a couple of hours strolling the oak-shaded slopes of the Abkhazi Garden just a 15-minute bus ride from downtown.
After her release from a prisoner of war camp near Shanghai in 1945, Marjorie Pemberton-Carter purchased a rocky 1-acre hillside near Victoria and began clearing the land to build a home. A year later she married her childhood friend Nicholas, the exiled hereditary Prince of Abkhazia, Georgia. Over the next 40 years they worked together to transform the site into the garden that “became our child.” With help from the Garden Conservancy, The Land Conservancy of British Colombia purchased the property in 2000.
The following description is taken from the TLC website. “Hidden from the street by a high hornbeam hedge, the garden embraces a natural landscape that is unique to Victoria. The site is blessed with dramatic glaciated rocky slopes, magnificent native Garry oaks and gorgeous vistas and the garden is designed to make the most of these remarkable features It is the Abkhazis’ response to their landscape that qualifies it as a stunning example of West Coast design. The garden flows around the rock, taking advantage of deeper pockets of soil for conifers, Japanese maples and rhododendrons which over the last 50 years have grown to an impressive maturity. Carpets of naturalized bulbs, choice alpines and woodland companions provide interest throughout the year to the discerning plantsman, but it is the overall design that leaves the greatest impression.”
Times vary with the seasons but the garden is open year-round. For more information see the Abkhazi Garden Guide.
Upper Photo: Summer - View of the restored summerhouse, courtesy David Laws
Lower photo: Spring - Azalea garden in bloom, courtesy Linda Abbey