Nearby Gardens to Visit
Some wonderful gardens in and around the Comox Valley to visit
Filberg Lodge is a 1930’s arts and crafts style home built on 9 acres of beautiful waterfront estate which overlooks the Comox Harbour. Once the home of logging magnate and philanthropist Robert (RJ) Filberg and his family, it is now a municipal heritage Park right in the heart of beautiful downtown Comox, British Columbia.
The Park is owned by the Town of Comox and has been operated by the non-profit Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park Association since 1979. The park is open to the public year round and is a popular spot for weddings, arts events, community events and the wildly popular Filberg Festival.
When it’s not hosting spectacular events, Filberg Park is a great place to hang out and enjoy the natural beauty of the Comox Valley.
It comes as a surprise to many living in Comox Valley – even some who have lived here for years – to learn that our community resources include a wonderful therapeutic garden which is available to people of all ages.
Located on Anderton Road, directly behind Anderton Nursery, the Anderton Therapeutic Garden (ATGS) experience is a result of Bill and Joy Georgesons’ dream back in 1996 when they aspired to create a garden where people’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing could be enhanced in a tranquil and aesthetic setting.
The garden opened in 1998, after securing use of the 2-acre land parcel. Today, it sits as a testament to the thousands of hours of volunteer time expended over a quarter of a century.
Vancouver Island University’s
Woodland, House & Gardens
The garden is a sensuous delight. Old growth Douglas firs and cedars frame breathtaking views of the Strait of Georgia. The garden lawns slope gently to meet a precipitous bluff which plunges to the beach below. Beyond the strait, the Coast Range Mountains of the British Columbia mainland can be seen. To the north, Denman, Hornby, Lasqueti and Texada Islands are visible.
The gabled house includes features of a Ceylonese tea plantation house. For example, each bedroom has a bathroom with a screened door leading into the garden. Its covered veranda looks out on both garden and sea views and serves as an outdoor room. Wisteria vines with soft, plump flower clusters cling to the walls. It is believed that the house was started in 1928 and completed in 1931.
Bald eagles patrol the beach head and circle above their feeding grounds, their distinctive cries carrying across the forest. Blue herons fish the shore, while the dappled shade of the garden shelters songbirds. Purple finches and wrens nest in the camellias near the house. The garden features 500 varieties of rhododendrons, whose colours and textures grow against the majestic forest trees. Blue-green hostas, fragrant honeysuckle, and delicate lace-cape hydrangeas soothe the eye. The forest shelters wildlife.
The significance and complexity of the estate go beyond this aesthetic richness, however. The property is located within the coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone. These forests were dominated by towering Douglas fir, western red cedar, and Grand fir. Development and logging have taken their toll and very few old growth forests remain. The estate is one of a group of properties (totaling 140 acres) which comprise one of the last of such forests. As a result, the estate has a very high conservation value.
The garden lies on the sheltered eastern shore of Vancouver Island and is protected from severe weather conditions sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean by Mt. Arrowsmith to the west. It is further protected by the mild Japanese current. Summers are warm and winters are mild. January temperatures average from 8-12 C. while July temperatures average 23-25 C. The average annual rainfall is 140 cm. Freely draining, sandy soil is a result of retreating glaciers which covered the area thousands of years ago. This soil is covered by a thin layer of forest loam typical of the region and supports a wide range of plants.
Today the multi-layered forest canopy casts a dense shade over much of the garden area. The understory includes the extensive collection of rare rhododendrons as well as fine specimen trees. There are several formal areas with lawns and edge plants, a small orchard, berry and vegetable gardens. The garden includes specimens of Japanese maples, Davidia, Stewartia, beeches, laburnum, Katsura, dawn redwood, birches and Spanish chestnut.
Of the total 28 hectare (70 acre) Milner Garden and Woodland property, 4 hectares (10 acres) is developed garden, 24 hectares (60 acres) is forest. The property includes a swimming pool and pool house, tennis court and cottage.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens are an act of love, developed by one man in an effort to fulfill a dream to share with all. Bryan Zimmerman’s Xmas Tree Farm and Santa’s Barn are well-known in the Comox Valley during the winter months. He always knew he lived in a beautiful spot but it wasn’t until he began clearing out some of the thick brush on his 24 acres of forested land that he thought of a way to share it with others.
Studying the interesting topography and unique layout gave him the idea for creating the woodland gardens. Over the next two years he began to build his wonderland dream clearing the underbrush by hand to reveal a forest floor more beautiful than he had imagined.
Day by day, using his back and wheelbarrow, he laid over a mile of bark mulch paths meandering through the woods.
The beauty of the gardens is that most of the forests natural finery has been left alone, embellished, but not overwhelmed by cultivation. The gardens are especially designed to showcase the most beautiful of all shrubs: the rhododendron. Bryan has planted over 3000 rhododendrons of different varieties and sizes as well as companion plants and cultivated trees, all blending into the breathtakingly beautiful natural surroundings.
To take a walk through this woodland garden gives one a feeling of peace and well-being. In the upper area he’s used the land contours to his advantage in the placing of several ponds. The serenity draws one to follow the soft cedar bark paths, and the enticing trails that disappear into the woodlands. Granite rocks from the valley mountains line the pathways. The filtered sunlight, sparkling through the trees in an endless array of patterns lift your spirits. You inhale the sensual earthiness.
In the lower, or hidden garden, woodland paths descend to travel along Kitty Coleman Creek, where a pair of wood ducks happily meander. The view of the creek through filtered light and overhanging trees is one that inspired a group of artists to ask permission to paint there.
The idea is that anyone visiting the Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens will never see the same scenes twice. The rhododendrons bloom mainly from March to the end of June. Their dark green foliage is so attractive year round that they are one of British Columbia’s favorite shrubs.