Vancouver Island’s Ronning Gardens in Port Hardy are a Labour of Love

Parks & Gardens

If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island this year, there is one destination you must be sure to visit. Ronning Gardens can be found in a remote spot on the northwest tip of Vancouver Island and is a spectacular destination that should not be missed.

Established by Norwegian settler Bernt Ronning in the early 1900s, these Vancouver Island gardens span roughly 5 acres and are home to a wide range of trees, shrubs, and flowers from all across the globe. Upon Ronning’s death in 1963, the gardens were taken over by the rainforest for a number of years. Some years later, the property was purchased by a new set of owners and restored. A lot of the restoration efforts included freeing the gardens from the surrounding rainforest, which was not an easy task.

As one of Vancouver Island’s finest attractions and most exquisite display of flora and fauna, the Ronning Gardens will not disappoint. Whether it is your first time visiting Vancouver and you want to make sure you don’t miss any of the top sights or if you are a garden enthusiast searching for the perfect spot to take in some of the most incredible flowers and shrubs from around the world, Ronning Gardens is a must.

The History of Ronning Gardens

Bernt Ronning was an avid gardener who committed his life to finding as many plants and trees as he could through various mail order catalogues. Ronning quickly became a Vancouver Island staple for his breathtaking garden and its many incredible botanical specimens. His property attracted locals on a regular basis, as much for the spectacular gardens as his tendency to play live music and open up the dance hall he created. From offering his home to a shipwrecked crew to working as a fisherman and camp cook, Ronning was a very popular Vancouver Island local until his death.

After he passed away, the surrounding rainforest unfortunately began to encroach and take over his garden. While much of the gardens’ original features have succumbed to the elements over the years, it remains today as one of the most exquisite gems on the Island.

This Beautiful Attraction Includes a Monkey Puzzle Tree

One of the main features of the gardens is an impressive and unique monkey puzzle tree. When originally brought to Ronning Gardens, there were two trees (one male and one female) which marked the entry gate to the property. Unfortunately, the female tree died more than a decade ago.

Interestingly enough, the offspring of these two incredible trees were shipped around the world and can be found in many different gardens, including some on North Vancouver Island. From 1981 to 2004, more than 15,000 seeds and trees were either sold or given as gifts to visitors and nurseries around the world.

Ronning Gardens are also full of mature specimen trees, some of which are nearly one hundred years old! These trees can be found growing through the Pacific Rainforest. Additionally, there are a handful of smaller plants that have somehow survived for many decades and have been given new life by a group of dedicated volunteers. There are also a wide range of shrubs, old rhododendrons, maple, beech, and oak trees, flowering bulbs, and awe-inspiring gnarled branches that can be seen year-round throughout the gardens.

Ronning Gardens are a top attraction that people travel from all over the world to see. While many of the gardens’ original specimens have been lost, there are still a wide range of incredible flowers, shrubs, and hundred-year old trees throughout the 5 acre property.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Amazing Vancouver Island and a clickable link back to this page.

Publisher of Amazing Vancouver Island. Doug grew up in Kamloops and Vancouver. He is also the President of KIAI Angency, an Internet Marketing and Branding agency in Vancouver. He is an avid photographer and you can see his many pix of Vancouver Island on Flickr.

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