Friday, October 14, 2016

Butchart Gardens delights, amazes, with fabulous flowers, theme plantings, artful global collections

The majesty and magic of Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C., have captivated millions since Jennie Butchart had an idea.


Keller and Cookie near the end of a "bonny Butchart day."

A staff of 50 gardeners maintains Butchart
Gardens.  Here one of their rakes. (30 work
the grounds and 20 staff the greenhouse.)


THE GREAT Samuel Johnson's line about London applies to the world's most beautiful garden, too.
Johnson said, "When one tires of London, one tires of life."
And when one tires of the spectacular Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C., one should probably tidy up his affairs.
You don't have to be a gardener yourself to appreciate
  beautifully placed flowers and beauty at Butchart Gardens.

In a half-dozen visits to these gorgeously planted and immaculately tended gardens, I've never been disappointed. Butchart Gardens lifts the spirits, buoys the soul, delights the eye.
Hanging begonias were in their glory.
I've seen magnificent azalea gardens in Maine, gorgeous desert gardens in Arizona, spectacular fields of perfectly poised marigolds in Brazil.
The Japanese Garden at Butchart has, by tradition, lots of trees and
meticulously manicured plantings  shrubs.
Singapore has beautiful botanical gardens and Shangai and Kyoto have breathtaking gardens of native plants and shrubs.
WHAT MAKES Butchart Gardens special is that it incorporates gardening techniques and planting themes from all over the world. It brings this global bouquet into one magical 55-acre spread.
Visitors pose for photos as a way to remember the beauty at Butchart.
Pioneers Robert and Jenny Butchart came to the place in 1904, attracted by rich limestone deposits he planned to quarry for Portland Cement. The enterprise made him a millionaire many times over. But Jenny's idea was equally lofty.  A gardener and chemist with a fondness for plants, Jenny wanted to beautify her husband's exhausted quarry. She received his blessing and plied her unending curiosity about what would grow best where to establish a series of theme gardens which now attract millions of visitors worldwide.
When her husband's quarry was exhausted, Jenny Butchart had a eureka
moment, about which Cookie, far right, and millions, approve!
THE FIRST of her gorgeous gardens was a "sunken garden," devised to pretty up the quarry after the limestone had been removed. Enterprising and determined, Jenny brought in tons of topsoil by horse and cart. Robert, pleased and proud of his wife's creativity, encouraged the project's expansion.  The Italian garden followed -- supplanting a tennis court -- then a Japanese garden on the seaside, and breathtaking rose garden, with favorite varieties from around the world. As the Butcharts traveled the world, they brought back plants and ideas: a piazza with a waterwheel, artful Mediterranean garden and more themes evolved.
The Butcharts named their estate "Benvenuto" -- Italian for "welcome"; today Butchart honors its name as it has done since Jenny had her idea in 1904. Part of the family still resides on the property -- which now boasts restaurants and an array of sculptures.
Fountains, lilies and poppies, marigolds, petunias and more grace the Italian Gardens.
Through the years, a concert pavilion, carousel, fireworks area and fountains were added. Unique gifts grace the place, including a stunning Dragon Fountain from the People's Republic of China and Victoria's sister-city, Suzhou.
WE FLEW in to the gardens on our fist night in Victoria, a treat aboard Harbour Air, which the latest generation of Royals just flew. Towards sunset, we 10 passengers landed in Butchart Cove, a pretty walk away from the dining room where half of our group stayed for a leisurely dinner after deplaning Harbour Air. It was exciting to see these gorgeous gardens from the air by dusk, then to drive to Butchart the next sunny day.
A SUNSET dinner cruise package includes the plane ride and Butchart dinner, through Harbour Air. A fun blend of seaplane adventure and gardening charms, worth the $100.
Butchart is Victoria's number one tourist destination -- and you'll see why.

Vancouver's skyline is framed by a spectacular British Columbia sunset.
UP NEXT: While we're in B.C., we have a look at a new favorite hotel in Vancouver, as we highlight this exciting west-coast port city, which rivals Seattle and San Francisco for spectacular scenery, parks and museums and plenty of entertainment for the tourist.  We also take a spectacular dinner cruise, for sunset over the skyline of Vancouver.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us weekends for a look at artful, nature driven travel and arts pieces with a twist. Tell other intelligent life about whereiscookie!


  1. Thanks, Chrissy, for the background and the update on the gardens. First (and only) time I saw them, I was a kid from Worland, Wyoming, which is irrigated green...nothing like lush Victoria, BC. OMG, it was heaven in the gardens.

  2. Wow! I love beautiful gardens. Heard of this marvelous creation and live that it came from the wreckage of a quarry!/