Milner Gardens Art & Photography in the Garden July 21/22

July 11, 2012 - 4:21am

Meet, mingle and be inspired by local artists at work, painting, sketching, carving and photographing the beauty of central Vancouver Island’s very own ‘secret garden’.

Milner Garden and Woodland, located in Qualicum Beach, invites everyone to visit this artist’s garden for an Art & Photography event July 21 and 22 from 10 am to 4 pm.

This annual summer time event will feature Bonsai artists, potters and live music. Proceeds from an artwork silent auction will help support the gardens. The newly reburished tea room at Milner Gardens will also be open from 11 am to 4 pm for tea, soup and scones. Refreshments and smokies will be available on the grand lawn.

Milner Gardens and Woodland, a magical 28-hectare (70 acre) site of unspoiled natural beauty, is located off the main Island Highway near Qualicum Beach on the edge of an oceanside bluff overlooking the Strait of Georgia.

The site was named one of the ten best public gardens in Canada by the Canadian Geographic Travel magazine and is listed as one of the seven wonders of Oceanside/Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Weekend admission to Milner Gardens is $11.20 for adults and $8.50 for youth and students. Admission is free to members and students of VIU with a valid student card. If you attend the Art & Photography event on Saturday and get a hand-stamp, you will be re-admitted to the Gardens on Sunday for no charge.

For more information call 250-752-6153 or visit


Background on Milner Gardens and Woodland

Visited by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the 60 acres of

woodland and ten acres of garden surrounding a heritage house was the dream of one woman,

Veronica Milner.

The woodland garden features an ancient coastal Douglas fir forest with exotic tree species growing

amongst native old growth, sheltering the rhododendron collection and understory of shrubs,

perennials and bulbs.

The wild garden blends into formal areas surrounding the historic Milner House with

manicured lawns, perennial borders and ponds, with a stunning ocean view backdrop. A small orchard,

berry garden, rose garden and cutting garden are also part of the historical plantings.

“A stroll through the winding pathways and magical surroundings of an ancient coast Douglas fir forest

will provide you plenty of opportunities to enjoy peace and tranquility,” says Geoff Ball, Executive

Director of Milner Gardens and Woodland.

The 70-year-old Milner Gardens and Woodland property in Qualicum Beach was acquired by

Vancouver Island University in May 1996. It was named Milner Gardens and Woodland in recognition of Ray

and Veronica Milner’s contribution to the development and preservation of the garden and

forest. VIU’s goal is to maintain the garden and woodland in perpetuity for education and the

community’s benefit in the Milners’ memory.

One of the main features at Milner Gardens is the Rhododendron collection. “It’s a delight to wander through both a result of the design and layout of the collection, as well as the age and setting,” says Ball. “Over the decades, the Rhododendrons have grown and settled into the natural material to give the woodland garden a

magical feel.”

According to Ball, the original property owner Veronica Milner was a painter with an artist’s eye who envisioned a wild, woodland garden amongst the forest, and her dream came true. To combat the monotony of the native evergreen trees, she planted rhododendrons – by the hundreds, as a reminder of her grandmother’s estate in England.

In the 1950’s, Veronica’s husband, Ray Milner, became friends with nursery owners Ted and Mary

Greig and began collecting the earliest rhododendrons planted in the garden.

The Greigs specialized in species and hybrid rhododendrons, importing seed and nursery stock

from England to their nursery in Royston, BC. They were award winning rhododendron hybridizers and

the Milners’ garden became home to many of their new introductions.

“The Rhododendrons selected for the gardens are an interesting mix of species and hybrids,” adds Ball. “There are 45 species represented in the Milner historic collection, and 70 named hybrids. Some of the most outstanding specimens remain a mystery; their identity lost over the years.Many of the hybrids created by Ted and Mary Greig

were unnamed, and therefore are simply labeled ‘Greig Hybrid’. This collection is a cousin of the well known Rhododendrons in Stanley Park.”

Today, the historical rhododendron collection numbers over 400 specimens, spread over 10 acres

of garden. A combination of unique species and rare Greig hybrids make this collection worthy of

preservation. Small shrubs that were planted over 40 years ago have grown to tree-sized proportions,

creating a forest of colour.

The collection is being propagated to replace aging specimens in the garden, as well as for sale to the

general public. These efforts ensure that this extraordinary collection can be enjoyed for years to


Today, Milner Gardens and Woodland is open to the visiting public seven months of the year. Afternoon

Tea is served with assorted baked goods and freshly baked scones, served with jam (made with fruit from

the garden) every day from 1 to 4 p.m. when the Gardens are open. The newly reburbished Camellia Tea Room is

located in the drawing room of the historic Milner House. No reservations are required, except for large


Large or small group luncheons may be booked by prior arrangement only by calling 250-752-8573

extension 224 or by email:

Many special events are held throughout the year at Milner Gardens and Woodland, including the

popular Christmas Magic, Murder Mystery Teas and spring and fall plant sale fundraisers.

Plants have been propagated by a dedicated group of volunteers and all proceeds raised help support the operation of the garden. Volunteers are happy to assist you in picking out the perfect plant for you to take home to

your garden. Members receive 10 per cent discount on all plant purchases.

The Pool House Gift Shop is open from 10 am to 5 pm each day during the season. You may browse

through a good selection of garden-related ornaments, books, cards, stationary and souvenirs.

Refreshments and light snacks are available. There is outdoor seating capacity for 45 people on the deck

and by the pool.

How to get there: Milner Gardens and Woodland is located at 2179 West Island Highway in Qualicum Beach. It is

a 2 1/2 hour drive north of Victoria, or 40 minutes north of Nanaimo. Take Highway 19 north to the Qualicum Beach exit, drive straight through Qualicum Beach on Memorial Avenue to the water, turn right on West Island Highway. Milner Gardens and Woodland is about 2 km (1.2 mi) on your left. There is parking at the entrance.

For tea house reservations and information, please

call 250-752-6153 or visit

Administration: 250-752-8573; Volunteer Services:

250-752-7514 Fax: 250-752-3826

Tags: In the Community

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email