Victoria Garden Ecotour

With Katherine Ylitalo          April 18- 25, 2017


Today is an arrival day and no activities are scheduled. Meet Katherine in the hotel lobby for a brief welcome. Time to be advised.
Victoria Gardens Canada
Today enjoy a walking tour through Beacon Hill to Legislative Buildings and an interpretive tour of Emily Carr's favorite haunt the beautiful historic Beacon Hill Park. We share stories about Emily Carr and her friend Herb Warren, the gardener who created this beautiful oasis. In the luxuriant Garry Oak meadows filled with drifts of blue camas and other spring bulbs, we find a site that has been cultivated by the First Nations for thousands of years and that inspired Sir James Douglas to name this park in the 1840’s. 

In the afternoon we take an interpretive tour of the Legislative Building. This site has served as a government property since 1864. The original buildings were known as the Birdcages. The current Parliament Buildings, designed by the architect Francis Rattenbury,were officially opened in 1898 .

This evening we have a special dinner program. Ian Efford, author of the book, The Public Rhododendron Gardens of Vancouver Island will give us a presentation on Victoria’s rhododendron gardens and why they are unique. The gardens he discusses are many of the gardens we will visit. BD
Victoria Garden
Free morning. For those interested, Katherine will take a group to the Robert Bateman Center, a short walk from the hotel. This is optional at your own expense.

The formal gardens of Government House serve as the Ceremonial Home for the citizens of British Columbia and include four spectacular gardens: the English Country garden, the Mediterranean Herb garden the Edwardian Sunken Rose Garden and the Terrace Garden. We then walk through the heritage community of Rockland to Craigdarroch Castle. Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria it is now a National Historic Site. Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored, giving visitors a glimpse of privileged Victorian life in the 1890s. The Castle has one of North America’s finest collections of Victorian residential stained and leaded glass windows. The castle it is a 20-minute walk to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. The group will have a guided tour of the Emily Carr Exhibit. B
Victoria Garden
A member of the Garry Oak Restoration Project located on Fort Rodd Hill National Site will provide us with a guided tour. The site protects one of the few remaining examples of Garry Oak ecosystems in Canada and is a highly diverse habitat for many species at risk of extinction. This site is particularly breathtaking in spring with wildflowers, such as a sea of intense blue camas

Optional Visit: Fort Rodd Battlements and Fisgard Lighthouse Audio Tour. This is optional at your own expense.

In the afternoon we will have a guided tour of the Hatley Castle and Gardens. The Castle served as a dormitory and mess hall for cadets and staff officers at Royal Roads Military College. Today it is the administrative centre of Royal Roads University. The gardens on this 565 acre estate are one of the largest Edwardian gardens in Canada. There are several beautiful gardens including a four-acre Japanese garden designed by Isaburo Kishida. This garden features original garden structures, lanterns, ponds and stone lined rills. B
Victoria Garden
This morning we tour the Horticulture Center of the Pacific (HCP) Gardens. The 3.5 hectares of gardens exemplify the potential of gardening in every season in the Pacific Northwest. The gardens we tour are; the Mixed Borders Garden, which provides inspiration for year-round gardeners in a home garden setting; The Doris Page Winter Garden, dedicated to horticulturist Doris Page, who brought Hellebores to Vancouver Island; The Rhododendron Garden; and the Takata Japanese Garden, a 20-year old Japanese garden that includes traditional plants, bridges, stone lanterns and an authentic teahouse. The Bonsai Garden was created in 2014, with over 60 bonsai trees. The collection is diverse and uses many trees native to Vancouver Island.

In the afternoon we tour Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria, which has one of Canada's best collections of rhododendrons. Complementing the plant life are three tranquil ponds, an inviting network of winding paths and dozens of benches. Finnerty Gardens is a beautiful naturalistic garden and we visit it during the best of the seasons. 

We then visit a private garden in Oak Bay. The owner has been asked several times to open her garden to groups but has declined. We will be the first the group to view her garden. A rare privilege!

We travel back to the hotel via the upper class neighbourhood, the Uplands. It is a prime example of a garden suburb designed in the early part of the 20th century. The renowned landscape architect, John Olmsted, was hired as the designer. The Uplands of today is faithful to Olmsted's vision: the lots are large, the houses are meant to impress and the immense gardens are carefully tended. Olmsted considered Uplands to be his master residential work. B
Victoria Garden
James Bay is Victoria’s oldest neighbourhood. On this guided walking tour you learn about the history of selected homes and architectural styles. The walk includes many of the streets where writer and artist Emily Carr lived and members of the Carr family owned several homes. 

Along the route, we will stop at Birgit Piskor’s garden and studio. Brigit turned her knowledge of working with concrete from garden walkways to sculpture. She sculpts concrete into a variety of shapes from spiraling corkscrew to spheres. Birgit is in the process of renovating her garden that will feature her sculpture. It should be completed by April and we are invited to view her new design. 

This afternoon we will visit the studio and garden of Chosin Pottery and the home of Robin Hopper and Judi Dyelle. The husband and wife team are potters, award winning artists and teachers. Robin is the recipient of the Order of Canada and Judi received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal of Excellence for their contribution to the arts. Their studios are located on a 2.5 acre beautiful setting that is inspired by Japanese gardens. Robin is the force behind the garden which he calls “Anglojapanadian”. The garden consists of ponds, bogs, grasslands, woodlands, sculpture and orchards. B
Victoria Garden
Today we explore some of Victoria’s beautiful private gardens and the historic Abkhazi garden.

We begin with the award winning 4 Seasons Garden and Waterfront Garden. This garden is designed to have interest throughout the year and was selected by Canadian Gardening as Canada's Number 1 residential garden. It has been featured in a number of gardening publications including Fine Gardening. The homeowner has become one of Victoria’s leading local garden designers and she has invited us to join her to visit a waterfront garden she designed.

Abkhazi Garden and Teahouse is a beautiful heritage garden established by Prince and Princess Abkhazi over fifty years ago. We enter the garden through the woodland grove of wonderful heritage rhododendrons. Then we enter a magnificent glacial rock outcropping featuring three ponds and a range of alpine plantings including historic conifers.  

After touring the Abkhazi Garden and Teahouse we take a short walk to the Jewel Box Garden. The Jewel Box Garden contains two one hundred year old apple trees from the original Audain orchard. Complementing the ambiance of the home and garden are carefully selected containers and art.

Our tour ends with a farewell dinner. BD
Victoria Garden
The tour ends after breakfast. B

Our Host and Our Victoria Guide

Katherine Ylitalo
Katherine Ylitalo is a garden historian, horticulturalist, writer, curator and educator based in Calgary with a special interest in the point where art and gardens and horticulture converge. She is involved in the stewardship of the MacDonald Butterfly Garden at the Banff Centre and teaches Contemporary Art and Gardens at the University of Calgary.

Joan Looy, of Victorian Garden Tours, taught at and headed a Victoria Community College department for over twenty years. She then decided to follow her passion for gardening by offering garden tours featuring wonderful private gardens that were only rarely available to visiting garden enthusiasts.

Having grown up in the Victoria area, she is also eager to share local history and provide interpretive tours of lesser known historic public gardens. Take advantage of Joan’s infectious enthusiasm for gardening, her thorough knowledge of gardening trends, and her extensive gardening experience.

Tour Information

Tour Length: 8 days / 7 nights
Date: April 18 – 25, 2017
Land Price: $2377CAD per person. This price is based on a minimum of 10 participants.
Single Supplement: There is no single supplement for this tour.

Prices quoted are effective as of January 2017. The final price although not expected to change, may be modified if the minimum number of people (10 people) is not met.
Victoria’s Gardens, Art and Heritage Includes
  • Transportation within Victoria
  • 7 nights Coast Victorian Harbourside Hotel
  • 7 Breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners
  • Presentation on Victoria’s rhododendron gardens
  • Tours of public and private gardens per the itinerary
  • Visits to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, castles and artist studios per itinerary
  • Guiding services of Joan Looy
  • Taxes
  • …and much more!
Victoria’s Gardens, Art and Heritage Doesn’t Include::
  • Airfare to Victoria
  • Travel Insurance 
  • Pre- or post-tour accommodation 
  • Meals not included in the itinerary 
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Excursions, activities, and entrance fees not included in the itinerary 
  • Gratuities to guides and driver 
  • Personal Items 
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