The Gardens at HCP

The Gardens at HCP is not the most appealing of names but don’t let impressions fool you. “HCP” is the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific which sounds even worse unless you are an avid gardener. Its former name of Glendale Gardens is preferable in my view but whats in a name? as Shakespeare pondered… they are a peaceful charming place to visit. Here you can wander through nine acres just north of Victoria, away from the crowds, among 10,000 varieties of plants in over 30 themed gardens.

These gardens often overlooked as people flock to its big brother neighbour on the Saanich Peninsula, The Butchart Gardens. One of many gardens in Victoria open to the public, I appreciate its relaxed, low-key approach (you have to ask to pay the admission fee!). It is unquestionably worth visiting just to enjoy the Takata Gardens: Japanese gardens surrounding a stream which flows past the new Bonsai Garden down to a Zen Garden.

Special events at The Gardens at HCP include Arts and Music in the Gardens held on a mid-August weekend each year with 40 Vancouver Island artists scattered around the many themed gardens. These sections present Mediterranean plants, herbs, heathers, rhododendrons and hostas, lilies, winter, succulents, grasses, fuschias, and more. Special events apart, its a quiet place to wander through at leisure.

Summer Festivals in Victoria BC

Summer Festivals in Victoria BC add spice to a visit to Vancouver Island. It’s a pleasant surprise to stumble upon a festival but better to plan a visit to coincide with one of your choice. Here’s a summary of the major varied summer festivals in Victoria BC.

May
Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival – over 150 years of fun and muscle.

Swiftsure International Yacht Race – four races contested by 200 yachts as the Inner Harbour gets thoroughly nautical.

June
Victoria International JazzFest – over 300 musicians in many styles.

July
Victoria International Buskers Festival – remarkable street performers give free shows throughout downtown.

Moss Street Paint-In – outdoor art created by 160 of Vancouver Islands leading artists. 30 years on.

August
Symphony Splash – join 40,000 people in Victoria’s Inner Harbour on the first Sunday in August. Ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and fireworks.

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival – 90 dragon boats with 2,500 paddlers race in the Inner Harbour.

Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival – 50 shows at eleven venues downtown.

September
Saanich Fall Fair – our agricultural show on the Saanich Peninsula since 1868.

Victoria Classic Boat Festival – 40 years of admiration of these craft.

Victoria International Chalk Art Festival – stumble across street art unfolding before your eyes.

Click on the above weblinks for full details about these Vancouver Island events and spectacles.

Matticks Farm at Cordova Bay

One of the joys of running a Victoria bed and breakfast is to recommend places to visit, usually during breakfast table chit-chat, and then, at the end of the day, to encounter smiling guests full of the joys of their days experiences. One of those often recommended places is Matticks Farm at Cordova Bay, Victoria.

Bill Mattick grew flowers and vegetables from the 1940s at Matticks Farm at Cordova Bay on the eastern side of the Saanich Peninsula just north of Victoria. Then he created a tea garden and a golf course, the embryonic form of Mattick’s Farm as we know it today.

Today it is a charming place to wander around. Its 15 fine stores include boutiques, a garden centre, farm market, wine shop and, of course, the tea garden. Right next door, among the trees, is a mini golf course to be enjoyed before holes-in-one are celebrated with an ice cream. Nearby Cordova Bay Golf Course offers the real thing, on 9 or 18 hole courses.

Special events at Mattick’s Farm and the neighbouring area include Cordova Bay Days in June, and Summer Music in the Square at Mattick’s Farm during July and August afternoons.

A very short drive south on Cordova Bay Road takes you to beach access points to stroll along the beach and look across the Haro Strait to San Juan Island. Then a short drive south is Mount Douglas Park with its commanding views.

Fishermans Wharf in Victoria

Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria BC is just a short walk from the Inner Harbour along an oceanside path with its intriguing colourful houseboats.

Years back the salmon fleet moored here, so the name is a valid one, though today only prawns and crabs are brought in by a few fishing boats. Nonetheless you can buy fresh fish or (definitely recommended) taste the battered variety at the fish and chip shop eating at communal tables: the person who passes you the salt may have come from just about anywhere in the world. Then wander around with ice cream in hand watching out for the friendly harbour seals looking for fishy handouts.

Fishermans Wharf in Victoria is a base for whale-watching and for kayaking too. If these explorations do not appeal then hop on one of the regularly passing harbour ferries which will take you back to the Inner Harbour, bobbing along with commentary from the skipper.

It’s a charming place where you just can not stop smiling and feeling relaxed. The houseboats seem to present a laid-back lifestyle (there might even be one for sale or rent) and the tourists are here to enjoy themselves.

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is one of the two “castles” in Victoria built by the Dunsmuir family. (The other is Hatley Castle, west of Victoria). Though only 100+ years old these Scottish baronial mansions are full of character.

Craigdarroch Castle was built in the late 1880s on a hilltop overlooking Victoria by Robert Dunsmuir who had acquired great wealth, albeit at the expense of his exploited employees, in his mining and railway empire. We find this unacceptable but we can not visit his baronial castle without some appreciation of the gem created for our pleasure. The sumptuous carved woodwork and 32 stained glass windows alone stun us.

The castle had a chequered history after the death of his family members but today The Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society opens its door for us to enjoy the superb restorations. Now a National Historic Site of Canada. Allow at least an hour for a tour of its 39 rooms and do make use of the nineteen audio guides.

Victoria BC tourism map

What to see, where to eat, what to do, where to stay and how to get there? All vital questions which this Victoria BC tourism map will help to answer.

The map shows Victoria and Saanich Peninsula attractions, recreational activities, restaurants, wineries and other tourism related businesses, and, of course, accommodations. (Victoria is on the southern end of the Saanich Peninsula, the area where you’ll be enjoying your vacation in this beautiful area.)

The map is part of an informative website about Victoria BC tourism. Click on these links to prepare for your visit:

  • Attractions so often guests remark as they leave “We wish we were staying longer. Theres so much to do here”. This page has information and links to downtown attractions, Victoria area attractions, gardens, wineries, and recreation on land and on water.
  • The Butchart Gardens – since this is the place you really should visit we’ve dedicated a web page to these magnificent gardens. Allow sufficient time to explore the varied gardens and enjoy its activities.
  • There are videos about aspects of Victoria and Vancouver Island.
  • Local tourism businesses are listed answering some of those What to see, Where to eat and What to do questions.
  • and lastly, that Victoria BC tourism map. Zoom in and out, click on the icons for more information.

 

Our Greater Victoria bed and breakfasts are located conveniently for your explorations of Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula. We look forward to welcoming you to a memorable stay.

Victoria tourism website

Old friends from the UK emailed me a couple of days ago confirming that they will visit us this year. They asked what there is to do in Victoria and could we recommend a Victoria tourism website. Needless to say, I sent them useful website links.

Our group of bed and breakfasts has a website which will give my friends much food for thought. Victoria attractions listed on the site include something for everyone:

  • From Canadas oldest China Town to the latest IMAX film,
  • From urban shopping to beach strolling,
  • From horse-drawn carriage tours to whale-watching tours,
  • From formal gardens to wild natural parks,
  • From wineries to restaurants,
  • Eight short award-winning videos.

Our bed and breakfasts are located on the Saanich Peninsula. This is just 30km / 20 mile long, from Victoria in the south to Sidney in the north. Here you’ll find the most popular Victoria attraction of them all, the Butchart Gardens.

 

So, here is a three part plan of action to help you prepare for a visit to southern Vancouver Island using this Victoria tourism website:-
1. Take a look at a map to get a sense of the scale and locations.
2. Browse through our website, especially the attractions page.
3. Book your Victoria bed and breakfast and ask your hosts any outstanding questions to make your trip the best it can be.