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Did You Know About This Victoria Oasis?

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By Joanie McCorry

Have you wandered through  The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia back yard at B.C. Government House lately?

Her home and gardens are a National Historic Site.  This park like oasis in the midst of Victoria in the heart of the Rockland neighbourhood  is 36 acres (14.6ha) in size, including  22 acres  (8.9ha) of an rare Garry Oak  ecosystem.

I have wondered through these gardens since I first moved to Victoria to attend UVIc in 1974.  My first boyfriend at UVic lived in one of the historic mansions with a yard backing onto the property, we enjoyed romantic midnight strolls!  Years later another boyfriend rented across the street and I picnicked with him onsite (He said he borrowed the LG’s pool to go swimming!)

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I took my nieces for wanders and photo sessions as they grew up.  Today I take visiting family and friends for a walk about these natural and manicured gardens, kept perfect by a cadre of volunteer gardeners!

The Gardens are open from 7am to 7pm for the public to enjoy!  Government House itself is not open daily.  It is open to us for a New Year’s Day Levee every year, which I have attended and walking through the public rooms. What a feast for the eyes! Tours of Government House are available to school groups and non-profit groups by advanced booking.

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The current Government House is the third mansion on the site, built in 1959, however the grounds and history go back to 1865.  Today only the port cochere at the entrance of the house is original.  The house is accommodation to distinguished visitors including members of the Royal Family, international royalty, heads of state and other honoured guests of British Columbia.  Perhaps in the future, the just born Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana may stay there!

I love wondering around to the back of the residence where the Pacific Ocean can be viewed through the garry oaks stand.  Drifts of spring wild flowers such as camus, shooting star and chocolate lilies abound.

During the summer, a tea room is open for your summer refreshments!  Take your own picnic and choose a spot special to you!  You may be joined by resident deer, ducks, chipmunks or a domestic cat!  The gardens are blooming 365!  An outdoor stage provides a venue for celebration.  I have participated in outdoor yoga classes under the covered pavilion. Your imagination is the only limit on how you can create bliss in this paradise.

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I see many wedding parties being photographed in the gardens!  Brides blush at being surrounded by such floral and architectural wonder!

There are many pieces of First Nation art, historic totems and recently erected totems.  My iPhone is kept busy by all the art and flowers that greet me!

More information about this historic gem is located here: http://ltgov.bc.ca/gov-house/history/timeline.html

Enjoy your visit to the gardens of Government House, whether it is your first or 32 visit!

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