Victoria Rhododendrons

Victoria’s rhododendrons are magnificent at this time of the year.

I’m reminded daily as I drive by the displays in front of the Wellesley on Blanshard.  My other favourite spots for viewing include Playfair Park in Saanich, Abkhazi Garden and Finnerty Gardens at the University of Victoria.

Ucluelet and Tofino, where I grew up on Vancouver Island’s West Coast, have a connection to Victoria through rhododendrons, Beacon Hill Park, and George Fraser.

Fraser, a Scot and renowned plantsman, arrived in Victoria in 1885. He was hired by Blair Scott, landscape architect commissioned by the City of Victoria, as the project manager for Beacon Hill Park.  In 1894 he left Victoria for Ucluelet, and soon discovered the climate (rainy and cool) ideal for the cultivation and hybridization of rhododendrons.

Today there is a celebration in his name – George Fraser Day; this year – Saturday May 22. People come from all over the world to view the  displays in private and public gardens.

Another local rhododendron pioneer is Ken Gibson. His “Rhododendron Hill” at Fourth and Gibson in Tofino has over 1500 shrubs.

As I walk among Victoria’s rhododendrons, I’m reminded on long ago settlers who carved gardens out of the wilderness, creating their small patch of beauty amid coastal forests and bogs.

Do you have a favourite spot for viewing Victoria rhododendrons?

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2 Responses to “Victoria Rhododendrons”

  1. Bernard von Schulmann Says:

    Not here in Victoria, but I highly recommend the University of Washington Arboretum – what a HUGE display. There is also Rhododendron Flats in Manning Park, rhodos in the wild

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