Throughout history of mankind gardens have been feast for the senses and quiet refuge and spaces for reveries and meditations or contemplations allowing people to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. There has always been a link between man and flowers in the garden as American playwright and poet laureate of Vermont, Robert Frost, expresses in his poem “Lodged” – “The rain to the wind said, You push and I’ll pelt, They smote the garden bed, That the flowers actually knelt, And lay lodged though not dead, I know how the flowers felt.”
The iconic Butchart Gardens of Victoria, British Colombia, a National Historic Site of Canada as a remarkable example of 20th century estate garden, is one of the ten most beautiful gardens in the world along with the Monet Gardens of Giverny, France and the Gardens of Kent, England. For over 100 years the gardens have been a stunning depiction of flora, trees and shrubs as expression of art and culture!
A must-see oasis when visiting beautiful Victoria, set on 55 acres (22 has.) of privately-owned land with a full-time staff of 50 gardeners, all experts at deadheading (removing spent flowers), and 26 greenhouses, the gardens originally started with Robert Pim Butchart and his wife Jennie who migrated to the west coast of British Colombia to quarry limestone necessary for Portland cement production. When the limestone quarry became exhausted Jennie smothered the abandoned pit with soil and turned it into a garden, now the Sunken Garden. Ownership of the gardens still remains with the Butchart family with their great granddaughter Robin Lee Clarke as managing director.
Walking in a clockwise direction we visited first the main highlight of the gardens and the beloved area of the landscape, the Sunken Garden cloaked in lush green and colourful blooms of red, white and yellow and the Ross Fountain before heading to the Concert Lawn and into the Rose Garden of approximately 300 varieties of roses and then straight ahead to the Sturgeon Fountain and into the Japanese Garden that gives a display of reds, oranges and greens with Japanese bamboo and maples emerging from moss-covered beds and with waters bubbling in a pond. Then down to the Star Pond and the Italian Garden which is home to a gelateria, bronze-cast statue and flower-studded pond.
The Butchart Gardens are open year-round, in all four seasons plus one, the Christmas Season – winter (January to March) when the gardens are bursting with thousand of blooms; spring (April to June) with hundreds of bulbs and colours and scents of spring; summer (June – September) with floral splendour and when the concert lawn stage comes alive with a variety of performing artists; and autumn (September to November) with the vibrancy of autumn when Japanese maples turn russet, gold and red. The 5th season is the Christmas Season – the magic of Christmas with displays of holiday wreaths, garlands, outdoor ice skating rink, and the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The Butchart Gardens is located on Vancouver Island, north of Victoria at 800 Benvenuto Avenue, Brentwood Bay. It is easily accessible via a scenic drive from Victoria. We`re coming from Vancouver, so we take the BC Ferries from Tsawwasen Terminal to Swartz Bay and follow the signs to the gardens. Peak season is July and August. Best time to visit (it takes an hour and a half to two hours to see the gardens) is early in the morning.
Be among the more than 1 million visitors each year to experience the Butchart Gardens, the gardens of five seasons.