Results 1-10of 18 Reviews
October 13, 2008
From journal The Best Place on Earth: Vancouver BC
June 29, 2007
From journal Victoria, BC in a Day
June 15, 2007
From journal Floral Fantasy on Vancouver Island
Riverview, New Brunswick
June 8, 2007
Our mid-May visit saw a profusion of tulips in every colour imaginable set in the midst of a number of other varieties of annuals and perennials. Near the beginning of the visit, we made our way into the sunken garden, and it is, indeed, sunken…in the deepest part of the quarry. The quarry walls that were once a hardscape of stone were softened by Mrs. Butchart who planted them with ivy. Now, the green walls are broken only by a small cascade of water. The area is filled with rock features, one of which is a mound covered in plantings that almost obscure the stairway to the top. From that vantage point, you can overlook a large pond and much of the former quarry floor. We learn that Mr. Butchart once stocked a second pond with trout that would rise to feed when he clapped his hands. Beyond that is another vista and yet another pond which houses the beautiful Ross fountain.
Every turn in the walkway opens up a new scene, whether it is a sculpted plant or a massive redwood rising out of swaths of purple, red, and green. For the rose lover there is a larger rose garden with countless varieties, each of which has a small plaque containing the name of the rose and the country and date of its conception. May was too early…we would love to return just to see them in bloom.
From the rose garden we passed into Mrs. Butchart’s first formal garden, the Japanese Garden which can be entered through a torii gate. You can expect understated beauty, winding paths, water features, and stands of bamboo built into a gentle hillside leading down to a small cove where the Butcharts once kept their boat. Once through that garden, we passed the Star fountain and enter the Italian garden… a pleasant, classical place to sit and perhaps have a gelato.
End, or start, your day in the plant identification centre (Take a picture of that mysterious plant with your digital camera and they will be able to identify it for you.), one of the restaurants or in the large, well-stocked, up-scale gift shop. Regardless…no description of Butchart Gardens can truly do them justice; they simply must be seen.
From journal Adventures in Lotusland: Victoria
August 10, 2006
From journal Three Day Trip to British Columbia
Rodeo, New Mexico
May 25, 2006
Red arrows on our guide show the recommended route. The Begonia Bower, our first "stop" on this self-guided tour of Butchart Gardens, used to be an aviary for caged birds and ornamental fowl. Sun backlights through brilliantly colored begonias and fuchsias, causing shutterbugs to snap away in ecstasy. Glancing right, the Piazza is a hub of activity, with little ones climbing on bronze ponies and Tacca the bronze boar, in front of the old Butchart residence.
Around a bend we find ourselves on the brink of the Sunken Garden. It’s awe-inspiring enough to warrant a sharp intake of breath at the sight of all that perfectly groomed color below—flowerbeds, bushes, lawn and trees bisected by neat walkways. These lead to Quarry Lake, a large pond. The demure Nude Girl statue presiding over the west side of the garden is constructed of Portland cement, as are stone-looking paths and wood-looking handrails.
Descending into the garden, beds of petunias in shades of purple, red salvia splendens, and striking tubular white nicotiana sylvestris alternate with yellow fremontodendrons. One remaining cement stack looms half-hidden behind trees. A rusted ore bucket and cable remind us of this garden’s "roots."
Around the bend, Ross Fountain comes into view below. Created by grandson Ian Ross in 1964, this moving fountain shoots jets of water from floating platform, causing the display to constantly change. Exquisite, brightly colored dahlias lining the pathway draw the eyes away from the fountain momentarily.
The soda fountain beyond, serving ice cream and beverages is extremely welcome; strawberry-kiwi bar for me, ice-cream cone for Bob. Past bog garden we turn towards newly carved Salishan-style totem poles. The 30-foot poles created by First Nations master carvers, were erected last year, celebrating Butchart Garden’s 100th anniversary.
At the nursery overlook, rows upon rows of baby plants grown for the gardens. More incredible dahlias in riotous solid and variegated colors line the curvaceous pathway to the Rose Garden.
Armies of rose bushes (more than 6,000), their blooms a bit past prime, surround hedged circular lawn. Tree-roses entwine a long arbor.
In front of the Japanese Garden, we pause to admire glistening bronze sturgeons forever encircling a fountain, an enlargement of a casting by sculptor Sirio Tofanari. Across the lawn, people are seen enjoying afternoon tea on the porch at Benvenuto.
Stepping underneath the red tori gate, we’re in the calm quiet of the Japanese Garden. Small ponds and streams run through it, crossed by stepping-stones or arched bridges. Maple leaves are barely beginning to turn red. On the far side of the garden lies sheltered Butchart Cove, in Brentwood Bay. Peek through a window in the thick hedge, or walk a short distance out to the cove, where boats lie anchored.
Steps lead up to Benvenuto via a unique twelve-pointed star pond, with white latticed "duck house" on one side. Formal Italian Gardens surround a cross-shaped pond, and are decorated by statues. Here you can buy gelato at Gelateria Benvenuto.
Gardens are largely handicap accessible.
From journal Victoria Gardens, Parks, and Neighborhoods
Two restaurants, a coffee shop, and several snack bars keep crowds well-fed. Afternoon plays and evening concerts provide entertainment. During summer, the gardens are lit up after dark, and fireworks take place on Saturday nights.
We easily find the gardens, a leisurely 30-minute drive by car from Victoria up west Saanich Peninsula. At the entrance gate, we’re welcomed, charged C$22 (C$23 as of 2006), and handed a visitor guide and flower guide. Beyond, white-gloved traffic managers direct us to the large well-marked parking lot.
Walking past coffee shop, gift store, and visitor center, paper guide and signs clearly indicate where to begin. Posted here also, the events of the day and evening: an afternoon play in Waterwheel Square, evening concert performance at the outdoor band shell, night illumination of the gardens after dark, and plant identification center at the end of the tour. Plants are unlabeled as part of the effort to maintain "the graciousness of a private garden."
A brief history is in order here. Robert Pim Butchart of Ontario, and his wife Jennie Foster Kennedy of Toronto, married in 1884. They moved to Vancouver Island with two young daughters in 1902, to manufacture Portland cement. R.P. recognized the Tod Inlet area as ideal for cement production. All the materials—limestone, gravel, rock, clay, running water, and coal within 50-water miles—were present untapped and in abundance. Thus, an idyllic location was transformed into a rather ugly quarry and cement plant, filling the air with powdery, corrosive cement dust.
Yet out of this economically profitable ugliness, seeds of beauty eventually began to sprout. Jennie planted a rosebush and some sweet peas by their house, and was amazed by how well they flourished, apparently far enough away from the pollution. Her first major project was a Japanese garden in 1906, planted with the expert assistance of Isaburo Kishida on the slope down to Butchart Cove.
Three years later, the limestone quarry was played out, a ravaged and barren pit. For five years, Jennie and the Butcharts’ Scots head gardener, Hugh Lindsay, put their heads together to plan a sunken garden in this denuded depression. Gardener William Westby helped in the implementation stages. Tons of topsoil were brought in and Jennie herself, perched in a bosun’s chair, planted ivy in the cracks and crevices of the stark, rocky walls.
The cement business did well enough that R. P. and Jennie were able to expand their home, named Benvenuto, continue to add more extensive gardens, and frequently entertain on their estate. Though the Butchart home is now a restaurant, teahouse, and museum of sorts, descendants of the Butchart family own and continue to manage the Gardens.
(866) 652-4422 toll free http://www.butchartgardens.com
December 9, 2005
From journal Victoria the Beautiful
Los Gatos, California
February 5, 2005
From journal Visiting Vancouver
January 11, 2004
From journal Victoria BC at Christmas