Veggies and Flowers, the Garden at Garrison Bay

One of the first developments of the camp at Garrison Bay was a garden.

Living thousands of miles away from home is never easy, but the Marines at Garrison Bay did their best to make their new camp feel more like home.

Early photos of the initial Royal Marine encampment at Garrison Bay suggest a life devoid of most conveniences. Crude tents, overgrown foliage, and dense surrounding forests defined the early camp. But for all the challenges facing the Marines as they built their outpost, a small vegetable garden provided some comfort to their otherwise bleak life. Although the National Park Service has no account of the vegetables they grew, other gardens in the region during the time give an idea of what the Royal Marines probably raised. At nearby Fort Victoria for example, the Hudson Bay Company planted cabbage, potatoes, peas, beans, and squash.

The garden was planted almost as soon as the Royal Marines landed in the bay. Photographs show that they used small sticks to surround the clearing, no doubt to keep local wildlife from enjoying the fruits of their labor. After years of brutal military campaigns in the Crimea (1853-1856) and then in China (1856-1860), the task of clearing out Garrison Bay to construct a camp probably came as a relief to the Marines. When Captain William Delacombe assumed command of the garrison in 1867, the vegetable garden was moved to a different location in the camp and replaced with a formal garden to please his wife. The present flower garden, which resembled the Victorian style of other gardens back in Britain, was planted at this time.

The careful maintenance of the garden during Garrison Bays occupation solidified it as a staple of the area, and it includes flowers like delphinium, feverfew, peony, and lavender. It is still maintained today, although the vegetables planted in the 1860s have been replaced with flowers and shrubs. The crude wattle fence has been replaced with a much nicer looking and sturdier white picket one.