Magazine article Sunset

B.C in Bloom

Magazine article Sunset

B.C in Bloom

Article excerpt

Near Vancouver and Victoria, lose yourself in a profusion of gorgeous gardens

Take a land blessed with good soil, clement temperatures, and lots of rain. Add gardening traditions reaching back to England, Italy, and Asia. Southwestern British Columbia is rife with horticultural opportunity, and gardeners here have not squandered it. From a lavender-scented Tuscan farmhouse in Langley to the formal (and floriferous) Butchart Gardens near Victoria, you can sniff, nibble, and ogle your way through a remarkable array of gardens here. Indeed, for garden-minded travelers, British Columbia may be one of the best destinations in the world.

To give these gardens a fair sampling, allow at least a day in the Vancouver area and a day on Vancouver Island. Take a camera and notebook. Bringing most kinds of seeds to the United States is possible, but obtaining customs permission to bring plants is rarely worth the hassle. Garden admission is free unless noted; prices are in Canadian dollars.

Vancouver area

* VANCOUVER

University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. The UBC Botanical Garden shows off an extraordinary collection of ornamental plants. But anybody who grows food will want to see the garden's edible collections. Amble down paths bordered with every kind of fruit espalier you can imagine, then peruse the raised vegetable beds. 6804 S.W. Marine Dr.; 10-6 daily. $4.50; (604) 822-4208.

* RICHMOND

London Heritage Farm. Diked in on a windy swatch of Fraser River delta land, the farm goes back more than a century. What remains of a once-larger property is a restored farmhouse (stop by for crafts, tea, and a tour) and a remarkable trial garden, which features nearly all of the 400 vegetables offered in the West Coast Seeds catalog. 6511 Dyke Rd. Grounds open 9-dusk daily; house open 10-4 daily July-August, 12-4 Sat-Sun September-June. (604) 271-5220.

* LANGLEY

Tuscan Farm Gardens. When Arleigh and Heather Fair decided to build a barn near their home southeast of Vancouver, they asked the architect to make it resemble a Tuscan farmhouse. He did such a great job that the Fairs had him convert the barn into a bed-and-breakfast. Flanked by a 4-acre echinacea field and a series of Mediterranean-influenced gardens, this place really does seem to belong in Tuscany. …

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