Hatley Park, which is now the site of Royal Roads University, is home to one of the most exquisite gardens in Canada. Nestled in an old growth forest, the Hatley Castle is adjacent to the Esquimalt Lagoon and the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the Olympic Mountains of Washington State on the horizon. This majestic setting provides the perfect backdrop for a range of beautiful gardens, which serve as a lovely setting for family picnics, quiet strolls and charming wedding photos. The garden is continually fascinating through all seasons and invites the visitor to return to witness its many enticing views.
In 1912, James and Laura Dunsmuir engaged Boston landscape firm Brett and Hall to develop a landscape plan for the entire estate. They prepared a classic design for an Edwardian park that included a series of 'garden rooms'.
The stroll from the castle to the Japanese garden takes you down an open avenue to one of the most private parts of the grounds. A small arching bridge invites you to cross into the serenity and beauty of the near century old garden. Stone-lined pathways, wooden structures, and lanterns thoughtfully placed throughout are structural elements that create a sense of continuity in the garden.
The sound of moving water allows the transition into the solitude of the garden to be more complete. The maturity of the plants in the garden has created hidden vistas that initially were only anticipated in the imagination of the garden’s designer, Isaburo Kishida. Kishida also designed the original Butchart Japanese Gardens.
This carefully manicured garden transports you to another time and place. The beautiful stonework of the traditional loggia provides shelter from the sun and rain. It is covered in wisteria that blooms blue in the spring and red trumpet flowers in late summer. The wisteria, which is now over 90 years old, is among the first plantings that reflect Laura Dunsmuir's love of drama and colour over more classical flower choices for this style of garden.
Entering the Rose garden, you’ll be transfixed: roses dangle from above, reach sideways from posts, and burst from the ground below. An incredible array of roses flourishes here - larch and small, every colour, ramblers, pillars and, shrubs. You'll find a breathtaking variety from traditional to newer: Albas, Damasks, Gallicas and modern David Austins.
Take a tour of the history of Hatley Gardens in this presentation by head gardener Barrie Agar: Hatley Park, Then and Now.