Ah, spring. A season of brighter and slightly warmer days full of chirping birds and beautiful colours all around us. Spring brings green growth back to trees and plants, and after many months spent conserving energy, flowers have the chance to bloom. This article showcases the best places to see spring blooms on Vancouver Island and features public gardens and woodlands accessible (and beautiful) often year-round.
Several studies show that looking at flowers makes people happy. And according to some researchers, seeing flowers has both immediate and long-term effects that result in elevated moods for days afterwards. Perhaps that’s why people get positively giddy at the first signs of spring!
Cherry blossom trees are my absolute favourite spring bloom, and thankfully, there are many to look at in most towns and cities across Vancouver Island. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to completely immerse yourself in a variety of bountiful blooms. This is where the manicured gardens come into play, and we have a great many fantastic ones to choose from.
Starting in Victoria and heading north, here are my absolute favourite places to see spring blooms on Vancouver Island. (All of the gardens mentioned below are equally beautiful in the summer, and often early fall as well).
Spring Blooms – Victoria
Victoria has been dubbed the ‘City of Gardens’, and from the number of locations to choose from, they take this role very seriously. Here are a few not to miss places. Victoria has mild weather year-round. This means that gardens are typically in bloom several weeks before other areas on Vancouver Island, and often showing spring blooms as early as March.
Beacon Hill Park
Location: official address is 100 Cook Street, but easily accessible from a variety of access points within the downtown core.
One of Victoria’s oldest parks, Beacon Hill is a wonderful place to explore at any time of year, but especially so in spring. At this time of year expect to see blue camas, pink shooting stars, and yellow western buttercups on the grounds; while cherry trees, tulips, daffodils, and other beautiful blooms are featured in the more manicured sections of the park. Landscaped and ornamental areas of this park cover over 33 acres out of the total 154-acre property. The roaming peacocks and ducks with all of their bright beautiful colours add to the whimsy.
Location: 1401 Rockland Avenue
Free to explore, the gardens of the Government House are at their full spring bloom by mid-May. It’s the perfect time to experience the many beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas. The full 36 acres includes 22 acres of a rare Garry Oak ecosystem and 5.7 acres of formal gardens, of which are wheelchair accessible.
The gardens at the Government House are open daily from 9:00 am until dusk.
Location: 1964 Fairfield Road
The small, but enchanting one-acre property was originally owned by Prince and Princess Abkhazi. These two star-crossed lovers were separated in World War II but reunited after the war ended. Creating a garden oasis on their property became a labour of love.
The rhododendron woodlands at this Victoria heritage home is especially beautiful in spring. The Rhodos begin flowering as early as February and last until early June. Book a 45-minute guided garden tour to find out more about the historical and horticultural significance of this property; available by contacting the Teahouse. The onsite teahouse offers guests exceptional food in a beautiful setting. Rates apply.
Abkhazi Garden and Teahouse is open:
- October through March: Wednesday-Sunday, from 11 am – 5 pm
- April through September: Tuesday-Sunday, from 11 am – 5 pm
- The last tea sitting and garden entry is at 3:30 pm
Location: University Drive
Found at the University of Victoria, Finnerty Gardens is a compact, yet well laid out area that’s easy to explore. And with over 500 different species of rhododendrons, it’s especially spectacular mid to late spring when in full bloom. Here’s a detailed map of what you can expect to see while wandering these grounds: Self-Guided Walking Tour of Finnerty Gardens
Finnerty Gardens is free and open to the public year round.
Hatley Park Gardens
Location: 2005 Sooke Road
Less popular, but equally as picturesque as any of the gardens mentioned in this list, is Hatley Park. During spring, the Japanese Gardens come alive with cherry blossoms, and in May the nearby rhododendrons are full of beautiful blooms. My favourite is the wisteria-covered loggia which gives off an intoxicating scent. These blooms are all part of one of the finest surviving Edwardian gardens in Canada.
Self-guided tours of the garden are free of charge and open daily from noon to 4:00 pm.
Gardens at HCP
Location: 505 Quayle Rd
The Pacific Horticulture College presents and maintains a year-round garden experience that all can enjoy. Included among this public garden is the largest outdoor Bonsai Garden in Canada, which is also the only outdoor bonsai garden in Western Canada. You’ll find beautiful spring and summer blooms in the many sections at HCP, including, but not limited to Fuchsia Garden; Cutting Garden; Birds, Bees and Butterflies Garden; Lilly Garden; Native Plant Garden; and, the Rhododendron & Hosta Garden.
The Gardens at HCP is open:
- March-August: Thursday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; and, on Sunday’s from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- September – February: Thursday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Admission rates apply
Location: 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay
For over 100 years, this 55-acre garden oasis has been delighting guests with over one million bedding plants in 900 different varieties. Starting Mid-March, Butchart Gardens offers thousands of flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs that are bursting with colour and blooms. The dominant landscape of cherry blossoms and tulips is especially beautiful in spring, however, Butchart Gardens offers guests a feast for the eyes no matter which season you visit.
Butchart Gardens is open daily, with current hours (March) from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Admission rates apply.
For a detailed historic overview of several of the above mentioned gardens, check out our latest e-book:
The Cowichan Valley doesn’t have any ‘manicured’ gardens (that I know of), but it does have a couple of spots that burst with spring blooms.
Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve
Location: 1241 Maple Bay Road, Duncan
Unfortunately, access to this area is by special permission only. It’s also normally opened to the public one day each spring for the ‘In Bloom Wildflower Festival’, organized by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, but that most likely won’t be happening this year due to COVID. However, there is a short interpretive boardwalk off of Maple Bay Road that juts into the preserve and offers a view of this rare and special habitat.
Rhododendron Memorial Park
Location: 371 Point Ideal Drive, Lake Cowichan
Each mid-late spring, the brilliant bursts of a variety of rhododendron and azalea flowers greet visitors at this little park in Lake Cowichan.
Location: 500 Bowen Road
The Hailey Rhododendron Grove in Bowen Park is quite an impressive sight showcasing over 350 hybrid variations. Experts say these unknown rhododendron variations may just be one of a kind. The grove is typically in bloom from late February until early July, with the highest concentration of colour and bloom mid-April to mid-May. You’ll find the grove in the Millstone Valley section of Bowen Park.
Spring Blooms in Oceanside
Oceanside has only one ‘manicured’ garden, located in Qualicum Beach, however, Nanoose Bay has its own hidden gem that is a must see during the spring.
Each spring this little lake hidden in the backroads of Nanoose Bay is bursting with colour. This hidden gem is hard to find and not well-known, which is why its part of our member-only articles. If you are a paying member, click on this link (and log in) to read all about it: Rhododendron Lake
Location: 2179 Island Hwy
This seaside garden in Qualicum Beach comes alive with colour each Spring. Milner Gardens and Woodland offers visitors 28 hectares of unspoiled natural beauty overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
Milner Gardens is currently open:
- February & March: Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
- April – September: Thursday – Sunday from 11:00 am – 4:30 pm
- Admission rates apply
Spring Blooms in the Comox Valley
Location: 61 Filberg Road, Comox
A beautiful setting of nine landscaped waterfront acres includes rare and exotic trees from around the world. During spring, enjoy the hundreds of rhododendrons, heathers, spring bulbs and flowering shrubs. While there, it’s worth taking the self-guided tour inside the Heritage Lodge. Constructed in 1929, this five-bedroom, four-bathroom home was built as a summer lodge for the Filberg family.
The lodge is open for tours on Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday’s from Easter weekend through Thanksgiving weekend from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. The grounds are open daily from dawn-dusk.
Gardens of Anderton
Location: 2012 Anderton Road, Comox (behind the Anderton Nursery)
Walk the paved labyrinth and enjoy the peacefulness of wandering through a variety of garden sections, including the meditation, butterfly, rose, dahlia, and children’s interactive gardens. Bring a lunch and set up a picnic on the lawn, or at one of the many benches or tables scattered about. The grounds are wheelchair accessible.
Garden of Anderton is open daily 10:00 am – 4:00 pm starting on Mothers day through to September. Entry to the garden is by donation.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens
Location: 6183 Whitaker Road, Courtenay
Recognized as one of the world’s finest informal show gardens, Woodland Gardens has one of the largest rhododendron collections in Western Canada with over 3000 plantings. It’s also home to a multitude of native plants and wildflowers which attract a variety of birds and butterflies. It’s a delight to walk along the bark mulch trails through the 24 wooded acres to view the many beautiful water features.
Open daily from 9:00 am – dusk. Admission rates apply.
Have I missed any of your favourite gardens to explore? Let us know in the comment section below. To save this article for future use, please pin this image on Pinterest: