Sooke Harbour House

A feast for all the senses, experience the incredible gardens at Sooke Harbour House.

Credit: Christina Symons

A feast for all the senses, experience the incredible gardens at Sooke Harbour House

You can’t help but smile. Upon arrival at Sooke Harbour House, a 2.4-m-tall (8-ft.) lavender fence welcomes you with whimsy and a splash of colour. It’s not really lavender, but long rafts of driftwood fashioned into spikes with such joyful energy that the effect is pure delight.

And that’s just the beginning. The inspiration of this artful inn, its entirely edible
organic gardens and the resulting culinary wonders on offer in the dining room make the experience resonate well beyond your stay.

When we left Sooke Harbour House I dizzily declared, “We need to have more fun in our garden – let’s get some wild art, rip out everything and go completely edible!” Such is the magical spell cast inside and out at this haven touted as one of the top 10 hotels in the world.


Wander the gardens at your leisure and be sure to take the official morning tour. Soak in the sea air and run your fingers through the foliage. Enjoy the deer that raid the salad beds knowing all loss is forgiven and accounted for by the gift of their delicate presence.

Decelerate while you dine in an atmosphere that is thoughtfully unhurried. The table is where sea and farm meet garden with artful precision. If proprietor Sinclair Philip passes by your table, he’ll likely pause and ask your pleasure. His warmth and passion about gardening, food and wine, along with that of his wife and partner Frederique, explains how this place achieves such sensory perfection.

Petals pusher

All of the 350 organically grown plants found at Sooke Harbour House are edible at least in some way. Flowers are used for display, as garnish and for flavour. Head gardener Byron Cook shares some of the ways his flowers are used: “Nasturtium buds may be pickled with vinegar and used like capers, while a daylily bud, dipped in tempura batter and fried, is served with dip. Make rose petal syrup with petals and sugar and use to make sorbet. Prepare ice cubes with violet or borage flowers and put in water glasses. Cook rice with orange calendula petals and it will look like saffron rice!”

Wild at art

sea creature

Frederique Philip has a passion for “all things beautiful” and it shows. We asked for the inspiration behind the delightful garden art at Sooke Harbour House.

“While I visited the Asian Museum in San Francisco, I picked up two quotes carved in stone, high under the vaulted ceiling of one of the rooms,” she says. “I think they summarize why I love art everywhere and what it means to me . . . and also why art needs to be in a garden.”

“Art is beauty passed through thought and fixed in form.”

“Nature is a celebration of God.
Art is a celebration of man.”

– Authors unknown

Writer and photographer Christina Symons delights in capturing stories and images about homes and gardens, design and lifestyles.