With the mildest climate in Canada, Victoria's gardens are in bloom year-round. In addition to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens the Abkhazi Garden, and the gardens at Hatley Park National Historic Site, several city parks attract strollers and picnickers. The 61-hectare (151-acre), 128-year-old Beacon Hill Park stretches from Southgate Street to Dallas Road between Douglas and Cook streets. In 1882, the Hudson's Bay Company gave this property to the city. Stands of indigenous Garry oaks (found only on Vancouver, Hornby, and Salt Spring islands) and manicured lawns are interspersed with floral gardens and ponds. Hike up Beacon Hill to get a clear view of the Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait, and Washington's Olympic Mountains. The children's farm, aviary, tennis courts, lawn-bowling green, putting green, cricket pitch, wading pool, and playground make this a wonderful place to spend a few hours with the family. The Trans-Canada Highway's "Mile 0" marker stands at the edge of the park on Dallas Road.
Just outside downtown, Mount Douglas Park has great views of the area, several hiking trails, and -- down at the waterline -- a picnic/play area with a trail leading to a good walking beach.
About 45 minutes southwest of town, East Sooke Park is a 1,400-hectare (3,460-acre) microcosm of the west coast wilderness: jagged seacoast, native petroglyphs, and hiking trails up to a 270m (886-ft.) hilltop. Access is via the Old Island Highway and East Sooke Road.
Strolling the Governor's Gardens -- Government House, the official residence of the lieutenant governor, is at 1401 Rockland Ave., in the Fairfield residential district. Around back, the hillside of Garry Oaks is one of the last places to see what the area's natural fauna looked like before European settlers arrived. The rose garden at the front is quite sumptuous.
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