When I was visiting the garden show last month I picked up a booklet about the gardens on Vancouver Island. The garden themes range from traditional to contemporary, tropical to woodland, edible to educational, each garden is distinctive and offers visual pleasure to every visitor. One that I was particularly interested in was Abkhazi Garden.
This garden was created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi and located in Victoria, British Columbia, a city known for its wonderful gardens, and is a heritage garden famous for its majestic trees and dramatic site.
The garden is very discreet from the street, with only hints of what exists beyond the hornbeam hedge. What the visitor does find is a garden that embraces a natural landscape that is unique to Victoria. The garden is blessed with dramatic glaciated rocky slopes, magnificent native Garry oaks and gorgeous vistas. The garden is designed to make the most of these remarkable features and 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.
The Abkhazis worked together on their creation for over 40 years, referring to it as “their child”. After their deaths the Garden changed hands, and in February 2000, The Land Conservancy purchased the property to save it from becoming a townhouse development. Once a private garden is now open daily to the public.