Victoria’s Abkhazi Garden is a beautiful heritage garden that’s operated by The Land Conservancy which is a non-profit trust also known as the TLC.
GARDENS CLOSED BUT NOW OPEN AGAIN
On April 4th, 2020, there was going to be an Open House at the gardens, but it got cancelled due to concerns about the novel coronavirus. The entire venue was also closed temporarily.
As of May 16th the gardens have reopened. For the immediate future, however, washrooms are not open to the public. Guests are also reminded to maintain appropriate physical distancing (i.e., 2 metres away from other people) and encourage to wear masks.
More details about the event cancellation and closure see The Land Conservancy‘s website.
Victoria’s Abkhazi Garden
The former home and property of a prince and princess from Georgia in the Middle East, the garden was created starting in 1946 after the couple immigrated to Canada.
Today Abkhazi Garden is open to the public by donation and it’s one of the most beautiful gardens in a city that’s world famous for gardens. If you’re in the area and you really like plants and flowers, then it’s worth checking out.
Location, Admission and Hours
Abkhazi Garden is located at 1964 Fairfield Road in Victoria not far from the municipality of Oak Bay.
Admission to the gardens is by donation with a suggested amount of $10, although any contribution is accepted.
As of early 2020, Abkhazi Garden and its Teahouse are open from April to September every day between 11 am and 4 pm with the gates closing an hour later. From October to March it’s open Wednesday to Sunday but closed most statutory holidays. In January it has reduced hours. See website for exact details.
Abkhazi Garden is a fairly small but beautiful garden that’s divided into a number of areas. First, as you enter, there is the Rhododendron Woodland Garden which consists of a trail going through an area full of rhododendron plants that are full of large beautiful flowers of various colours in the spring.
Next is the South Lawn which is a small patch of manicured grass with an assortment of flowers, plants and trees around it. Further up is what they call the Yangtze River, which is actually a green lawn designed to look like a flowing stream. All around the area are flowers, bushes, Garry Oak trees, pathways, steps and a couple of small ponds.
In the centre of the garden is the Summerhouse, which looks like a small home built in the 1940’s. The prince and princess used the house while they planned and built both the garden and their permanent home and today it’s used as the Teahouse for the gardens.
Overall Abkhazi Garden is very much a West Coast-style garden, with its Garry Oaks, rugged rock and selection of plants. It also has influences from the prince’s homeland in Georgia (which is located between Russia, Armenia and Turkey). The princess herself was actually born in Shanghai and if you look around you’ll likely find a slight Asian flavour infused into the landscape as well.
The Teahouse overlooks the gardens and on its small outdoor terrace is where garden volunteers serve Afternoon Tea and light lunches. The house itself isn’t anything particularly notable – it just looks like a 1940’s house in the middle of a beautiful and well-manicured garden – but it still fits the setting surprisingly well.
Tips & Suggestions
Below are some things to keep in mind to help you make the most out of your visit.
TIP #1: If you’re lucky you might find a knowledgeable volunteer in the garden who can tell you a lot about the plants and history of the garden. Some of the volunteers are impressively knowledgeable.
TIP #2: Just a 10-minute walk south of Abkhazi Garden down Foul Bay Road is Gonzales Bay. There, at the end of the road and down some steps, you’ll find a beautiful and usually very quiet sandy beach. It’s a great place to go for a stroll or a picnic and is especially nice at high tide. Dogs are permitted on the beach outside the summer months.
TIP #3: Abkhazi Garden is located on Fairfield Road which is part of a scenic drive route that winds through residential neighbourhoods and along the ocean through Victoria and Oak Bay.
After visiting the gardens continue east along Fairfield Road until it connects with Beach Drive or, even better, head down Foul Bay Road toward the water and Gonzales Bay and then turn left at Crescent Road. Crescent Road also leads into Beach Drive, but first passes a lookout by Trafalgar Park. At the lookout you can park and admire the stunning views of the area, including the ocean and Olympic Mountains in Washington State across the water (or at least you can on a clear day).
Beach Drive then continues along the southern shore of Oak Bay, right through the middle of the Victoria Golf Club. From there it goes up Oak Bay’s eastern coastline through residential neighbourhoods past the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, Willows Beach and Cattle Point, and then on into Greater Victoria’s very swanky Uplands neighbourhood.
If you have time and a car, take the time to enjoy this wonderful scenic drive.
TIP #4: Abkhazi Garden is a pretty place anytime of the year. Best times to visit, however, include weekends or in the summer (when you’re more likely to find a volunteer to chat with), in the late spring (when the flowers are at their peak) and any sunny clear day when it’s not raining.
The garden is also a great place to visit when you’re already in the area, or passing through on your way somewhere else.
TIP #5: Combine your visit to Abkhazi Garden with other top attractions in the area. Gonzales Bay Beach is just a few blocks away, for example, as are scenic Dallas Road and Beach Drive. Abkhazi Garden is also just a short drive from the Lieutenant Governor’s House and Craigdarroch Castle towards downtown, and about an equal distance to Oak Bay Village in the other direction.
Parts of Abkhazi Garden (including The Teahouse terrace) are wheelchair accessible, but the place generally isn’t great for accessibility. It’s a garden built largely around large pieces of rock. There are paved paths, but also gravel pathways and stairs.
A person in a wheelchair can access the terrace and from there see much of the gardens below, but far from all areas of the property are easily accessible.
Also note that the garden entrance is fairly discreet. It’s in an upscale residential neighbourhood and the garden isn’t obvious from the street. There is a small sign though at the entrance, but no place to park within the garden itself. There is a little bit of street parking right outside, and lots more throughout the neighbourhood.
For more information on the garden, see The Land Conservancy‘s website.
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