Every path leads to another spectacular view.
It’s Fantasyland for the horticulturist and
Wonderworld for the masses. Famed Butchart Gardens
on Vancouver Island, British
, is a blue-ribbon showplace in one of the
loveliest corners of the world.
|Overview of one section of Butchart Gardens|
Visitors marvel at the variety and harmony
achieved by co-mingling easily recognizable flowers like dainty purple daisies and
ruffled pink geraniums with unusual specimens such as teardrop fuchsia and
delicate drooping trout lily.
passing the century mark in 2004, privately owned Butchart Gardens has featured
more spectacular scenes than ever within its 55 acres.
With different plants in bloom 46 weeks of the
year, each season (The Gardens counts five seasons—spring, summer, autumn,
Christmas, and winter) brings new items of beauty and interest for the public’s
Fifty full time gardeners and
additional part time staff work in 26 greenhouses year round to supply The
Gardens with the best possible plant specimens.
Twelve thousand tulip bulbs are imported annually
from Holland to provide a dramatic prelude to spring. One and a half million
annuals grown on-site plus flowering trees and shrubs fill beds and lawns with
a brilliant display of shapes, textures, and colors.
|Just one of the outstanding garden features in Butchart Gardens|
Summer is nirvana for plant lovers.
Not only are flowers blooming in myriad hues,
but also thousands of colored lights transform each night into a glowing floral
delight, casting shadows and a magical luster on trees and shrubs. On Saturday
evenings fireworks light up the sky, and guest artists perform on the Concert
Colors peak in mid-October with flaming red and
russet maples and 53 varieties of chrysanthemums leading the autumn parade.
As the blooming season winds down, guests
enjoy greenhouse tours in November.
The Twelve Days of Christmas displays are crowd
pleasers every year, and visitors enjoy ice skating on the outdoor rink during
Background shrubs take
center stage while flowering plants are dormant. The family home on the estate
was christened “Benvenuto,” Italian for “Welcome,” and during the winter it is
open for tours showcasing memorabilia that chronicle development of The
In 1904 Jennie Butchart, wife of successful cement
manufacturer Robert Butchart, began to beautify an abandoned limestone quarry
near the family home. Originally, the quarry was expected to support the cement
factory Butchart built in 1898 on Tod Inlet.
However, the quarry was soon exhausted, leaving an ugly, empty gravel
|We captured our reflection in this amazing ball.|
As a diversion, Jennie set about transforming this
Under her personal supervision,
top soil was brought in by horse and cart, and other improvements were made.
Trees, shrubs, and flowers planted under her
watchful eye eventually took shape as the Sunken Garden
Friends and neighbors flocked to see Jennie’s
beautiful gardens, and visitors traveling to Vancouver Island spread the word
about the floral displays.
1920’s more than fifty thousand people admired Jennie’s creation, and it began
to take on a life of its own.
concrete business declined, Jennie established a viable business by offering
guided tours with a cup of tea, an idea that proved popular with both locals
Since Jennie’s husband Robert collected ornamental
birds from all over the world and kept live ducks and peacocks, many elaborate
birdhouses were stationed throughout the gardens.
The Butcharts incorporated landscaping visions
from their world travels in the form of a Japanese Garden on the sea-side of
their home and later an Italian Garden and a Rose Garden.
Traditional hospitality is still evident during
High Tea in The Dining Room Restaurant when fruit and yogurt as well as a generous
selection of tea sandwiches and homemade sweets are served.
When you stroll on well-maintained paths meandering
through several distinct garden sections and expansive lawns or rest beside one
of the many cooling water features, you’re experiencing the result of more than
a century of pride and caring from Butchart family members.
Butchart Gardens is
located on Vancouver Island
, 14 miles north of Victoria and 12.5 miles south of
the Vancouver-Victoria ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. Ferries are also available
from several points in Washington, or you can arrive by plane or boat. Allow
at least three hours to absorb the elegance of Butchart Gardens
Photos by Larry Burmeier