The Empress Fig

The Gardens at HCP has been part of the horticulture community, a tourist destination, a local favourite and a centre of plant education since 1979. It’s fair to say over the past 40 years we have created our own history. The wonderful thing though is that plants can carry their own storied past. We have Japanese Maples in the Takata Garden that are over 100 years old, a cutting from the famed Golden Spruce, and one of the biggest collections of Bonsai in North America. We even have a way for you to take home some plant history for yourself!
Planted next to the Library in the Cottage is a beautiful piece of Victoria history. In 1914 a Ficus carica , or common fig, was planted at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. In 1981 this tree was designated a ‘heritage plant’ as it had become the largest fig tree in Canada and had an impressive fruit crop. In 1986 the ‘Empress Fig’ was dug up and moved to the Gardens at HCP to make way for the construction of the Victoria Convention Centre. While the transplant was successful, the tree did begin to decline. Cuttings were taken and one has grown into a magnificent specimen next to our Library.
The Gardens at HCP has now been successfully propagating from the second-generation Empress Fig for several years. Every year cuttings are taken in the spring, given 3-6 weeks to root and then are potted. Most cuttings are successful as long as they don’t dry out. Each plant comes with a copy of the original heritage certificate, all you need is a well drained site with full-sun and one day you should be able to grow your own massive fig tree with a bumper crop of fruit! We are currently taking a waiting list as there are some plants potted , but not quite ready to sell. Please e-mail our Head Gardener, Linda Petite at [email protected], to be put on the list for your very own Empress Fig.
We hope that on your next visit , you take time to come visit our beautiful fig tree and see all the historical specimens we have growing here! After 40 years in business it is wonderful to see how established HCP has become, yet it is ever-changing. Stop by and visit our Plant Sale area as well, as most plants we sell are propagated by volunteers on-site. There are several people connected to the gardens who are keen gardeners and often donate unusual seeds, plants and cuttings for us to propagate and sell in the sale area. Many species are even from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Don’t be afraid to try new things – gardening can take us all on adventures right in our own backyards!