They met in Paris in the 1920’s and became friends. She was an orphaned girl who lived with her adoptive, domineering mother. He was an exiled Georgian Prince of Abkhazi.
She settled in Shanghai. They both ended up interned in prisoner-of-war camps during World War II – she in China and he in Germany. After the war, she bought a rocky expanse of land in Victoria on Vancouver Island and built a home. Most importantly, she created a garden.
He discovered where she was, and, within a year, they were married. For 40 years they worked on the garden together.
What a story! Who wouldn’t be curious to visit the famous – and very personal – Abkhazi Garden? We waited until our friends, Joyce and Jerry, came to Victoria to have a look. Joyce knows more about plants than anyone else we know, and it’s always good to take your own guide with you to a garden! After a lovely lunch dining at picnic tables on the deck at Fisherman’s Wharf, we headed off for the garden.
The sun was intense and not a cloud in the sky. Well, not the best light for photography, we told ourselves as we started down the semi-wooded paths. Trying to photograph delicate little cyclamen flowers about 3 inches off the ground in dappled light didn’t work at all. Maybe we need some photography lessons?
The creators of Abkhazi Garden encountered many challenges. We were curious to see how talented gardeners worked on the rocky, hilly land;
The story of the Abkhazis fascinated us and so did the garden. The photos we took that day only gave a glimpse of the little garden details. The bigger picture escaped us due to our photography limitations. It’s definitely worth seeing the sweeping views of the garden – which, sadly, we could not photograph – on your next visit to Victoria.