Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gardener Goes Travelling: Hatley Park Gardens

I realized that I could not fit everything about the gardens of Victoria in just one post, so here are my pictures from two more gardens:

Hatley Park Gardens: This is an excellent garden for gardeners. It is much smaller than Butchart gardens, but the Japanese gardens here are more impressive in my opinion. The Japanese garden is the best I have ever seen, with mature trees around a lovely pond. The blossoming cherries cascading over the pond, graceful arching bridges, and trickling streams are perfectly placed. Of course, there was also no line-up of people waiting to get in here, and the setting seems much more intimate.

There is a bog garden adjacent to a pond with a nice little collection of primulas.

The gardeners are friendly, and they like to talk too. It was too early in the season to see any roses, which are individually labeled for the benefit of those interested. These gardens over the ocean also boast windmill palms, banana trees, and a nice little formal Italian garden with statuary that looks appropriately weathered and worthy of the stately surroundings.

The Italian garden:

Formerly the Royal Roads Military College (which closed in 1995), this building is now open to tours. The campus has now become a university, offering various courses.

Front entrance to the building, for which a separate entrance fee is charged. We only toured the gardens.

Government House Gardens: Free and open "sunrise to sunset", these gardens surround the house of the Lieutenant Governor of BC. We came upon these gardens incidentally, while driving through the elegant Rocklands residential area.

There were formal rose gardens, perennial borders, an herb garden, wonderful terrace/rock gardens, and some water features where mallard ducks lolled around.
Driveway into the Government House property:

Lawn and perennial borders:

Crimson-colored primulas, pink hellebores (top left) and some other perennials:

The terrace gardens, tucked into a rocky slope behind the buildings, were the most impressive. They featured a wide variety of spring bulbs, succulents, and perennials picked for color and texture contrasts. RLM was instructed to recreate elements of this garden for our yard at home; photos were taken to aid in this project.

A variety of heathers form fluffy pillows at the bottom of this slope:

The terrace gardens:

Back of house, overlooking the terrace gardens:

A lovely Lewisia, tucked into the rocks (this plant is also hardy to La Ronge, for those locals who want to try it).

A Camassia of some variety:
There were volunteer gardeners all over the property, mostly retired folk who seemed to love the communal enjoyment of gardening. Some of these people live in condos and get their gardening needs fulfilled by this garden, while others are obsessed gardeners who just can't get enough at home.
Mallard duck with Bellis (English daisies) in the foreground:

Herb garden full of sage, thyme, and lavender:

Botanical tulips (also hardy in La Ronge):

In short, Butchart gardens are impressive and a must see for everyone. Hatley Park gardens and Government House gardens will thrill anyone who feels fondly for plants and thinks of the smell of well-rotted compost like sweet perfume.

As a result of this trip, I went online and ordered more forget-me-not seeds and decided to grow a passionfruit vine. The forget-me-nots look absolutely wonderful growing amid tulips and other taller spring flowers and I know that other gardeners are successful at growing them here. Good luck to RLM as he attempts to recreate all the rock garden beauty we saw over there!

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