Ruth and I didn’t make it to Butchart Gardens when we were in Victoria this time, but with urging from several females who found it romantic we went to Abkhazi.
Peggy Pemberton-Carter met Prince Nicholas Abkhazi in Paris in the 1920s. The last surviving son of the king of the country near Armenia now known as Georgia, Prince Abkhazi left home after the Bolshevik Revolution. His father was not so lucky and was executed. The Prince and Peggy became corresponding friends as she traveled the world and lived in several places including Australia. During World War II the Prince joined the French army but was quickly captured by the enemy. Peggy spent the war years in Shanghai, and the friends lost track of each other.
They met in New York after the war, and their friendship turned to love. They wed. Peggy had gone to Victoria in the last year of the world war and liked it, so she sold her property in China and bought a little more than an acre of glaciated rocks and well-established trees in the city with Canada’s best climate. She and the Prince put down roots in Victoria. Their common language was French. They liked gardening together, so Peggy hired landscapers.
This couple lived like royalty in Victoria’s Oak Bay neighborhood. She dressed like the princess she had become as their garden became established. The garden was known for Japanese maple trees, heather, irises, day lilies, Garry oaks, and especially rhododendrons. The Prince and Princess worked the garden that became like their child for 40 years. Peggy wrote a book about their lives together called A Curious Cage and survived him by 7 years. Their residence then became a house serving lunch and afternoon tea. It and their garden are locally very popular. The teahouse’s opening times are irregular, so we didn’t get to enjoy this aspect of being there. This time. We were also there when the well-groomed garden was not at its most vivid because it was late fall, so I had to borrow a photo of it in bloom from agefotostock.com. Those who have been to tea and strolled their garden report still feeling like guests of the Abkhazis. It’s a mini Butchart, a 5 compass experience, and a wedding magnet.