on June 15, 2007
What do you call a limestone pit that has been transformed? Butchart Gardens!I never would have believed the beauty in that riddle until I witnessed the springtime beauty of the gardens. The flowers that were in bloom ranged from the ethereal whites to the deepest reds. I was surprised at the amount of flowers that were in bloom. I guess that I shouldn't have been since the zone 8 gardens are in a temperate rain forest microclimate and have abundant moisture and warm temps for most of the year.The hanging baskets that seemed to be an everpresent item in Victoria were also in abundance here. Our tour guide, D'Arcy, took photos of each of us under an arbor laden with the multicolored baskets.For those from climates where flowers and trees are just average, the shock of the floral sizes here will flabbergast you. Towering pines with trunks too big to hug, begonia flowers as big as your hand, and innumerable roses of almost every color of the rainbow are there for your viewing (and smelling) pleasure. Be sure to leave enough time to cruise through the gift shop. They have everything from seeds to Christmas ornaments and T-shirts. Although there is a restaurant on the premises, we were not able to eat there since we had a limited time to tour the garden proper. The walking paths are easy to navigate, and don't worry if you lose your map - there are maps located throughout the gardens with "you are here" dots on them. There is even a ramp to the sunken gardens for those not able to navigate the steps. (The sunken garden is the original garden planted by Mrs. Butchart when the limestone quarry ran out. The huge mound in the center is a section of poor limestone that was not quarried and now serves as a vantage point for those willing to climb the steps.)This is a "must see" for those who enjoy gardens. Take an extra day before or after a cruise (or plan an extra day in your Vancouver visit) and take the ferry to Vancouver Island to see the gardens. It is well worth it.PS - Don't worry if it starts to drizzle during your tour, there are stations at almost every junction of paths with clear vinyl umbrellas there for your use.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009