Our Story & Sustainability

Once upon a time...

Tofino Botanical Gardens was founded in 1997 by George Patterson. George visualized a garden with three major components: an idea, a place, and an action. The idea of the garden is that it can be both a basic introduction to the natural and cultural history of Clayoquot Sound, and a place where the relationship between culture and nature can be explored.

What are gardens for? This question is perfectly answered by an inscription in a 16th century garden in Bomarzo, Italy. “Sol per sfogare il core” translates to “Just to set the heart free”. Why say more?

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The site

Tofino Botanical Gardens is a 12 acre site, bordered on the South by an 80 acre forest reserve. Our shoreline looks onto 5 000 acres of protected migratory shorebird habitat. We look across Browning Passage at Meares Island which has been declared a Tribal Park by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. To the North and West lays the 750 000 acre Clayoquot Biosphere Reserve. This unique location provides Tofino Botanical Gardens with an enormous opportunity to provide access to education and research about the temperate coastal rainforest ecosystem.

This land is part of the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations and has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years

Garden Sustainability Initiatives

Conservation of the environment begins in the garden which is thoroughly organic. We have never used chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. All kitchen waste is composted in bins that are part of our public education programs. Herbs and greens from the garden are available for guests to use in the Ecolodge kitchen and are used in our own Darwin’s Café.

Native plants comprise more than ninety eight percent of the biomass on our twelve acre property.

Darwin’s Café History

In the past, Darwin’s cafe has been the home of prestegious chefs. Today, it serves light breakfast and lunch options and can be utilised for event and community space.