VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Vision and Goals

Mission Statement

To preserve and enhance the Milner Gardens and Woodland to educate and inspire

Vision Statement

This vision of the Milner Gardens and Woodland has evolved from the vision of the garden’s founders and creators, Ray and Veronica Milner. While others, notably Ted and Mary Greig, contributed to the garden we see today, the garden is in very large part a living testament to the Milner’s knowledge, passion, persistence and unerring eye for beauty.

Veronica Milner saw the garden and forest as a single living organism, a microcosm of calm and tranquility that was vitally important both in its own right and as an oasis where people could experience a sense of renewal and fulfillment. The key elements in this original vision were the preservation and continued enhancement of the garden and forest, the use of the garden and forest to educate and, more broadly, to influence people through delight and inspiration.

These elements converge in the acquisition of the property by Vancouver Island University. VIU’s mission statement speaks of developing the full potential of students and of collaborating with the community "in providing programs and services that respond to regional needs". The Milner Gardens and Woodland provides a superb living laboratory for VIU’s horticultural students. It also offers an opportunity to develop relationships with a broad cross-section of the community through the activities of the Milner Gardens and Woodland Society and the corps of working volunteers, the Friends of Milner Gardens and Woodland. These organizations have been established and will play an important role in the success of this venture.

Both the garden and the forest will be preserved and enhanced; the garden because of its beauty, uniqueness and botanical variety; and the forest because Vancouver Island University is committed to the maintenance of a Douglas-fir forest typical of the dry east coast of Vancouver Island. The forest also plays a key role in circling and protecting the garden, creating a sense of calm and isolation from the world as well as physical shelter from the elements.

The garden will be a continual inspiration and challenge to Vancouver Island University’s students and faculty and will provide a strong rationale for additional horticulture oriented programs to provide higher levels of expertise and accreditation for students. An important priority over the last four years has been to research and record the development of the garden during its first half century and to rehabilitate both the garden and the infrastructure supporting it.

The forest requires judicious management to ensure its maintenance and enhancement as a rare example of coastal Douglas-fir forest. A Forest Management Plan has been developed and adopted. The purpose of the Forest Management Plan is to give an ecological description and inventory of the forest, describe the conservation significance of the forest and guide the use, management and conservation practices in the forest over the short (five year) term and set some general directions for a planning horizon encompassing approximately one hundred years into the future.


  • Provide learning opportunities in both the art and science of horticulture as well as other activities appropriate to the garden and forest.
  • Conduct research in horticulture and related fields in the garden and forest.
  • Preserve and enhance Milner Gardens’ historic character and unique spirit for the benefit of future generations.
  • Manage the forest as an example of a coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone for the benefit of future generations.
  • Provide a world class display of rare and unique plants.
  • Demonstrate leadership in natural resource management.
  • Participate in and contribute to the larger horticultural community.
  • Ensure that the use of the Milner home is compatible with the Mission and other goals of the Milner Gardens and Woodland.