Abkhazi Garden in Victoria, BC: A Love Story for the Ages
I wasn’t expecting a love story when we decided to tour and have tea at Abkhazi Garden in Victoria, British Columbia. All I was expecting was a beautiful garden and tasty tea. Granted, I got those, but what I walked away with was the story behind both.
Allow me to share with you the real life romance that makes this place special. Because even though I write fiction love stories for a living, they can’t compare to the real thing.
Abkhazi Garden History
THE EXILED PRINCE AND THE ORPHAN GIRL
In 1922, Prince Nicholas Abkhazi was living in exile in Paris with his mother after escaping the Bolshevik Revolution. It was here he met Peggy Pemberton-Carter. Peggy was orphaned at the age of three and spent her childhood and early adulthood serving as the traveling companion of her domineering adoptive mother. For the next few years, Nicholas and Peggy enjoyed spending time together when they happened to be in Paris at the same time and corresponded frequently when they were apart.
SEPARATED BY WAR
During WWII, Nicholas joined the French Army but was captured and held as a prisoner in Germany. Peggy also spent time in prison, but she was held in Japanese internment camp in Shanghai. You can read about this time in her life in the book she wrote, A Curious Cage.
When the war ended, Peggy made her way first to San Francisco and later to Victoria. It was here in 1946 that she received a letter from Nicholas. She had not heard from him in 13 years. He told her that he would be in New York City later in the fall and suggested they meet. Peggy traveled to New York, and in November of that year, she became Princess Peggy Abkhazi.
THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER
For the next 40 years Nicholas and his princess lived in Victoria in the house Peggy had purchased after the war. Peggy would later say, “The garden became our child.” The love and care they had for their garden is obvious to those who visit today.
Nicholas died in 1987 and Peggy in 1994. Slated to become a high rise apartment complex, Abkhazi Garden was saved in 2000 by The Land Conservatory of British Colombia. Visitors today can dine in the tea house (a room in Abkhazi’s house) and walk the magnificent gardens. Need a place to stay in Victoria? Try DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Victoria.
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Christy lives in North Carolina where she worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry for fifteen years before Early Onset Parkinson’s brought her career to a halt. Undeterred, she…