Nov 132016
 

Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

Abkhazi Garden in Victoria, British Columbia was a forty year labour of love
for Prince and Princess Abkhazi

There are many places in Victoria, British Columbia, aka “The Garden City”, to view beautiful gardens from public spaces to private residences to formal and commercial gardens. One such garden is tucked away in a residential part of the city. Abkhazi Garden is the result of forty years of design and care by Prince and Princess Abkhazi. The Princess said, “The garden became our child.”

Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

Defining features of the garden are its glaciated rock outcroppings and mature Garry oak trees, characteristic of southern Vancouver Island. The garden was an artistic endeavour for the Abkhazis. They carefully chose plants to enhance the natural beauty.

Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

The story of the Abkhazis is as fascinating as the garden. Peggy Pemberton Carter was orphaned at the age of three and later adopted by a rich, childless couple. After her adopted father died, she spent her early adult years travelling the world with her adopted mother. She met the exiled Prince Nicholas Abkhazi in Paris in the 1920s. The Abkhazis were hereditary rulers of Abkhazia along the Black Sea in Georgia. Nicholas and his mother had fled the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. Peggy and Nicholas developed a friendship, corresponding over many years and occasionally meeting in person.

In 1938, after her mother died, Peggy moved to Shanghai, the city of her birth. She was interned in a camp near Shanghai during World War II. She kept a secret diary during this time, which was later published in 1981 under the title A Curious Cage. Nicholas joined the French army. He was captured and held as a prisoner-of-war. Peggy and Nicholas lost contact during the war.

After the war, Peggy came to Victoria on the invitation of close friends. She bought the land which would become Abkhazi Garden. In January 1946 Peggy received a letter from Nicholas. They agreed to meet in New York City. That meeting led to an engagement and a wedding in November of that year. They settled in Victoria, where they worked on their garden.

Woodlands at Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

Peggy met her guests at the gate. They began their visit with a walk through rhododendrons and woodlands. It was September when I visited and the rhododendrons were not in bloom, but the woodland was lovely and peaceful. The rhododendrons begin blooming in early January and continue through June.

Scultpure at Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

One of the art pieces in the Garden

A number of art pieces blend into the garden landscape. The garden was home to a special exhibition during 2016. Four metal dress sculptures were placed throughout the garden. They were the works of artist Bev Petow and had been inspired by ball gowns worn by Peggy.

Bev Petow sculpture in Abkhazi Garden

Bev Petow sculpture in Abkhazi Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abkhazi Teahouse

Prince and Princess Abkhazi built a house on the property. Today that house is the Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden. It serves light lunches.

Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

Nicholas died in 1987. Peggy stayed in the house for two more years. She died in 1994 at the age of 92. The property changed hands a few times until the British Columbia Land Conservancy bought it in 2000 to save it from being turned into a townhouse complex. Today it is a fully organic garden. No herbicides or pesticides are used.

Blooms at Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

Abkhazi Garden is open daily from April through September, and Wednesday through Sunday October through March.

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  26 Responses to “Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built”

  1. Oh, Donna! This is one of my favorite gardens and one few people seem to know about. It’s been a long while since I have been there, and so now you have reminded me that I need to return. I’m just glad that it is still in good hands and being loved.

    • Cindy, the garden does feel like a bit of secret, doesn’t it? I notice you’ve also written about it and I enjoyed your photos. There were lots of colourful plants in bloom when you visited. That’s one of the things I love about gardens like this – the way they vary throughout the year but are still beautiful.

  2. Hi Donna, how lovely. It kind of reminds of Huntington library and gardens in Pasadena, CA. The history and romantic story that are behind this garden, make it that much more beautiful. I’m sure walking through, you could just imagine the couple walking hand in hand.

  3. What a lovely story behind an equally lovely garden. I will remember to visit this when we finally get to Victoria. Romantic!

  4. Hi Donna. I’ve never heard of the Abkhazi Garden! Thx so much for sharing. Will definitely visit on my next trip to Victoria.

  5. Abkhazi Gardens looks stunning! Such beautiful colours, and so varied. British Colombia is clearly a province in Canada to put on my bucket list

  6. Gorgeous, and such a great story behind it. What a peaceful way to while away a day.

  7. I’ve only ever been to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, not the Abkhazi Garden. I love the story behind this one – it seems all of Victoria’s gardens have stories!!!

  8. Abkhazi Garden is beautiful and I’ve been there! I think your garden posts are some of my favorites due to the beautiful pictures. They sweep me into that relaxed mindset that strolling around such places tends to bring.

  9. I hadn’t heard of the Abkhazi Garden before, They’re lovely and the story is poignant. Glad they rediscovered each other after a really tough time.

  10. What a stunning garden and a fascinating story. I made a brief visit to Vancouver Island a couple of years ago, but didn’t get to Victoria. I’d actually like to go there a spend a few weeks traveling the entire island.

  11. What an amazing story and stunning garden. To create such an oasis of beauty on this rocky land certainly required some hard work and ongoing dedication. It’s not an easy terrain to work with… The outcome is certainly worth a visit (and your post to spread the word).

  12. I’ve been to Victoria several times but never heard of the Abkhazi Garden. Thanks to this posting I do plan to see it next time I’m in town. Sounds lovely.

  13. This looks like such a beautiful and peaceful place. To quote the song: What the world needs now…

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