Finnerty Gardens

Finnerty Gardens has one of Canada's best collections of rhododendrons. The spectacular three-acre plot is tended by the Finnerty Garden Friends, a special group of University of Victoria alumni and community members who advise on the planning and development of the year-round garden.

The Gardens were developed when, in 1974, the estate of Mrs. Jeanne Buchanan Simpson of Cowichan Lake was left to the University. She and her husband George, beginning in the 1920's, built up a notable collection of rhododendron species at their Lake Cowichan home. Many plants were grown from seed obtained directly or indirectly from famous plant explorers of the day. Theirs was the largest rhododendron collection in British Columbia.

The Buchanan Simpson's gift transferred to the University the responsibility for the well-being of a significant collection of a popular genus among Victoria gardeners. The University decided to move many of the rhododendrons to the campus where they would form the nucleus of a new garden that was created at the south end of the campus.

The Simpson plants were up to 50 years old and presented a challenge to the transplanters. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Simpson had been unable to maintain the garden properly. The rhododendrons had to struggle for survival without the benefit of summer watering and in competition with the invading "jungle". You will recognize these sometimes distorted giants in the Garden today. Most of them are R. decorum or R. fortunei. In their growth-form they resemble these rhododendron species growing in their native Asian habitats.

The collection now includes more than 200 rhododendron species and azaleas along with an extensive planting of hybrids, most of them of early origin. The accession list includes about 1600 entries for trees and shrubs. All are catalogued and identified by a number that refers to a master list, which is available for veiwing

The rhododendrons may be seen in flower from mid-January until late June, also extensive collections of spectacular perennials from July onwards. Companion plants such as Garrya, Chimonanthus, Hamemalis, Mahonia and Eucryphia extend the season through most of the year.

 

 
117178