As we go about our busy lives, it pays to pause every now and then … to take a little time to stop and smell the roses.
For many, that can include time spent in their own gardens, nurturing the plants and soil; for others, a trip to their local park offers that vital time to relax and soak in the wonders of nature around them.
Of course, with more than 170 parks throughout Saanich, the landscape varies considerably, from natural landscapes like Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary and Mount Douglas Park, to multi-purpose spaces, like Majestic Park, with its softball diamond, tennis court and playground.
And beautiful cultivated gardens? Yes, we have those, too!
“We have some incredibly creative people on the horticulture team,” notes Perry Charlton, assistant supervisor of horticulture for Saanich Parks.
Take a tour of Saanich gardens
- Beginning in west Saanich, stroll the Gorge Waterway Park, one of Saanich’s signature parks and a year-round delight for gardeners, walkers and passers-by. Undulating beds of trees, shrubs and perennials create an ever-changing landscape stretching 1.7 km between Admirals and Tillicum roads. This year, find edibles like cabbages, leeks, artichokes, chards and kale among the perennial and annual beds.
- Among the highlights of a Saanich garden tour is Playfair Park, off Quadra, a multi-season space renowned for its Garry oak meadow brimming with spring wildflowers, a large grove of mature rhododendrons and azalea – some more than 50 years old – and a sweeping perennial border. These beautiful displays are most impressive in the spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas start to bloom.
- Nearby, the multi-use park Rutledge Park in the Cloverdale neighbourhood offers beautiful annual displays, but also lovely perennial plantings around a large willow tree, Perry says.
- Just shy of 4 ha, Outerbridge Park in Royal Oak features a mix of trails, ponds and bridges. Beyond offering a beautiful setting for a stroll, it’s also a sanctuary for wildlife – particularly birds, since while some areas are planted with ornamentals, others have been left in a natural state.
- In Cadboro Bay, Maynard Park is a smaller neighbourhood park with a lovely perennial border planted near the playground.
Saanich parks aren’t the only places to enjoy the municipality’s creative horticulture designs. Municipal hall, the community’s recreation centres and traffic medians also get treated to terrific plantings that provide inspiration and create a welcome natural element to local spaces.
While each of these public spaces is unique, all provide areas of beauty that support birds, bees, butterflies and other creatures essential to the ecosystem. They also offer opportunities to support and develop our natural intelligence, a vital step in building stewardship.
Questions about what’s in the gardens? Horticultural staff are proud of their work and are a wealth of information. Feel free to ask them about the plants and spaces they’re working with or click here to learn more about the plants and horticultural displays.