OUR VICTORIA
 
Set against the back drop of our lively Inner Harbour, with the seaplanes splashing down, and taking off, and the behemoth cruise ships increasing our summer population exponentially, Victoria is still a picture postcard.  

Despite our rapid growth, with our beautiful gardens, grand flowering hanging baskets that line the streets, our heritage buildings, and our many parks to meander through, Victoria still retains it’s charm.  Listen to the sound of the horse and carriages making their way past the iconic Empress Hotel and the entertainment that plays out every evening on our downtown streets. 

Downtown Victoria is also a place where we live and work.  It’s a thriving, busy, exciting community and has, as you would expect, all the sounds that urban city living offers. 

My husband and I grew up in Vancouver.  We raised our family there, worked there, and had a great community of friends. We both have travelled extensively, exploring options to make a change, but always with an eye on "landing" in Victoria.

We are city dwellers, me in particular.  I like the hustle and bustle, the short walks to theatres, shopping and all the things I need and crave.

When the time came to sell our company, downsize our North Vancouver home, and make the move, we were giddy with excitement and anticipation of a new lifestyle.  We've lived in downtown Victoria for 6 years and it was the best decision we could have made.  Except for work, we rarely use our car.  We shop locally, (2 blocks away, and they deliver).  Restaurants that offer menus from around the world are within walking distance, and visually I don't think there is a more beautiful place. 

Come Visit Us, you won't want to leave!


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"It represented relaxation and quiet and because it was
 blue, it just jumped out against the background of the
 water and Olympic mountains"
 

These are the thoughts of Chris Hamilton on his iconic chairs on McMicking Point at McNeill Bay, along Beach Drive.

Chris built the blue chair for a former girlfriend and at the request of his now wife he was asked to get rid of it.  Hamilton drove the chair around in his truck for weeks until he happened upon a great resting place for the chair, and a great idea.  For fear of rejection from the homeowners in the area, Chris waited until dark one night, then carried the chair on his back down the path and across to the rocky point.  And there the blue chair remained until high winds destroyed it one stormy night.  

Hamilton didn't realize the importance of the blue chair had on it's visitors until a frequent user Belinda Thomas, wrote a letter to the Oak Bay News, lamenting its disappearance, Thomas wrote  "The chair has had such an impact on me... over the past year I have gone to the blue chair to have a mind chat about what was going on in my life". 

Reading Thomas's published letter, and realizing the importance of the chair for those who retreated there for solitude and contemplation it was now Chris Hamilton's wife who urged him to build another chair.  Chris did build another chair, this time painted red.

This is a great story, but what makes it even better is that when Chris took the new red chair down to its spot at McMicking Point, someone, and no 
one has ever found out who, had replaced the original blue chair destroyed in the storm with another blue Adirondack chair.  

These are the kind of stories that contribute to my love affair with living in Victoria.
 

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ABKHAZI GARDENS      

THE GARDEN THAT LOVE BUILT    

 Prince and Princess Abkhazi
 
Their story begins in the 1920’s in Paris when Marjorie (Peggy) met the exiled Georgian Prince Nicholas Abkhazi.  Prince Abkhazi, who was born to the Georgian monarchy in 1899, was exiled to France in the early 1920s after Russia's invasion and the Bolshevik Revolution.  Peggy whose parents had died was travelling the world with her adoptive parents and while in Paris met the Prince.  It was in Paris that the strong bond between Peggy and the Prince was forged.  After the deaths of her adoptive parents Peggy returned to Shanghai and it would be years before Peggy and the Prince would meet again.  

During the Second World War Prince Abkhazi was a prisoner of war in Hanover, Germany, Peggy was sent to an internment camp in Shanghai where she kept a secret diary of her experience which was later published under the title: “A Curious Cage."   
When the war was over the Prince and Peggy started corresponding.   Peggy made the decision to move to Victoria to join friends, the Prince followed and in 1946 the two were married.

The Prince and now, his Princess bought a bare, rocky lot in Fairfield.  With hard work and a labour of love they transformed it into their own oasis.

Often referring to the garden, “as their child”, and the “garden that love built", Abkhazi Gardens gained much notoriety, and was featured in Freeman Patterson’s 1989 book, “In A Canadian Garden.”

Prince Abkhazi died in 1988, and the princess kept his ashes in a red urn. It was Princess Abkhazi's dying wish (she died in 1994) to have her ashes scattered in the garden along with the ashes of her late husband.

Today, you can visit the garden, set on 1.4 acres overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic Mountains.  Take a stroll and enjoy the stunning internationally renowned collection of rhododendrons. 

Tranquil and intimate is how The Teahouse at Abkhazi Gardens has been described.
You will enjoy four star service and exceptional food in an incredible setting.


https://www.tourismvictoria.com/see-do/activities-attractions/garden-parks/abkhazi-garden





IT’S MARCH, WHERE WOULD YOU RATHER BE?
In Victoria, of course!
Victoria, B.C. has Flower Power

 38th Annual Victoria Flower Count
March 3rd to March 9th, 2016
 
 This March, while the rest of Canada digs out from under the snow and contends with ice storms and frigid temperatures, we in Victoria will be spending our time quite differently. Under vivid blue skies in the warm sun, we will be found out in the gardens and parks counting our beautiful flowers and blossoms. 
 
So why would we want to spend our time counting the flowers you might ask? It's quite simple really, because we can, and we've been doing it for decades. 
 
This year, from March 3rd to March 9th we celebrate "The 38th Annual Victoria Flower Count", a very big deal in this neck of the woods. Last year we counted an astounding 1,392,393,203 blooms, beating the previous year’s record flower count of three quarters of a billion flowers.
 
This would immediately make one think, “Come on, how is it humanly possible for the good people of Victoria to count a gazillion flowers?”
 
One might imagine hundreds of gardeners out there, with pencil and paper in hand, counting every flower one by one, "Oh look Martha, there's a flower here, 80 blossoms over there on that tree, 26 beautiful blooms on this bush, so let's see, so far I have a total of 107, no wait wasn't it 105, oh dear me I have lost track, Martha my dear we have to start over, AGAIN, OK here we go, that's one flower..." 
 
The process I was picturing seemed more like an exercise in frustration and futility than fun. The “aha” moment arrived when I found a guide for the counters that helped me understand the process. So it isn’t really the presumed painstaking process of counting each and every flower one by one, as this is just for fun after all, but as in any sport, there are official flower counting rules, regulations and guidelines to help estimate the number of flowers, blossoms and blooms.  
The rules follow these guidelines:
Trees full of blossoms, for example get a count of 250,000 to 750,000 depending on the size of the trees. The same goes for bushes. 
 
How to count:
         •       Small tree full of blossoms = 250,000 blossoms
         •       Medium tree full of blossoms = 500,000 blossoms
         •       Large tree full of blossoms = 750,000 blossoms
         •       Small Heather bush = 500 blossoms
         •       Medium Heather bush = 1,000 blossoms
         •       Large Heather bush = 2,000 blossoms
 
Participants tally and submit their numbers to the media who provide a daily update throughout week, until every last flower has been counted and a grand total for the year is tabulated.
 
Victoria's Annual Flower Count draws thousands of visitors to their web site from every Province across Canada, 27 US states, and over 20 countries around the world. 
 
Counting flowers is just one of the ways we highlight and brag that Victoria is Canada’s tropics in the winter, the Florida of Canada, so to speak.  We can also kayak, cycle, fish, scuba dive, sail, windsurf, golf and hike all winter. While this is all fact, it is also shameless self promotion, because we want you to visit Victoria and stay in one of our beautiful vacation rentals. So if you would like to take a break from the ice and snow why not come to Victoria and you too can spend a leisurely sunny afternoon with us counting the flowers and more.
 
2016 looks to be the earliest year (in the 9 that I have lived here) for the cherry blossoms to appear.  On February 3rd, I saw a post on Facebook that was a picture of View Street between Douglas and Blanshard that was absolutely pink; it showed both sides of the street lined with bright pink blooms.  I thought it had to be a picture from last year that someone posted this year to be cheeky.  I was wrong.  I drove down Douglas St. (which had nothing to brag about in the flower department) and then I looked right up View Street, and sure enough, there was the exact scene in the photo that was very honestly posted.
 
 
"The Victoria Flower Count"  www.flowercount.ca  can be found on Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and can of course be found on YouTube.   
 
The flower count is organized by regional chambers of commerce, the Butchart Gardens and Tourism Victoria.
Everybody can participate. Submit counts to 250-360-BUDS or online at Victoria Flower Count.