In bloom and open to the public

Steven R. Lorton,  – April 18, 2005

English aristocrat Veronica Milner immigrated to British Columbia in 1954, settling at Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. On her 70-acre estate, Milner cultivated 10 acres around a sprawling, cottage-style house and left 60 acres of woodland. As a painter, she saw her garden as an ever-changing canvas and designed it accordingly, planting a rich assortment of trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs, which she allowed to naturalize freely. Queen Elizabeth stayed at Milner’s estate when she visited the province in 1987.

Milner died in 1998, but you can visit her garden, tour the house, and have afternoon tea in the drawing room. This month, bulbs will bloom along with early perennials, and rhododendrons will burst into flower. In the woodland, you can stroll trails through old-growth forest carpeted with groundcovers. Milner Gardens and Woodland (10-5 daily; $10; 2179 W. Island Hwy., Qualicum Beach; or 250/752-6153) is about 90 miles north of Victoria, B.C.