"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Monday, July 30, 2012

Butchart Gardens: Part I

Our last day in Canada was spent visiting one of the best loved gardens in North America. Because Butchart Gardens was so close to where we were staying, Oceanside RV Park, in Sidney, BC we made the visit in two parts.  That way we could go back for lunch and take care of Kona in the RV before an evening visit. Well it turns out that Butchart allows dogs (bow wow!) so we took her back with us when we returned.

It was such an extended and full visit, that I've divided it up into three posts. I'll roughly present our visit chronologically, but because we revisited many of the gardens several times, I'm going to use some creative license to avoid too much repetition. The changing light throughout the day totally changed our photographs, so that some pictures of the same view looked very different. Needless to say we took more pictures than we'd ever use in twenty blog posts.

The garden is comprised of 55 landscaped acres, and is divided up into four major gardens and several smaller ones. Everyplace you look is landscaped and planted with flowers, even the garbage cans.

The Gardens are bordered on three sides by water and right away we decided to take the little boat ride around Butchart Cove and the nearby waterways.  We opted for one of the earliest rides of the day, so we needed to head pretty much straight across the gardens toward the boat launch. Along the way we passed through the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden and took a few pictures as we went.

Not all the flowers along the way were roses. There were masses of perennials and beds of annuals, all arranged in geometric patterns. This part of the gardens somewhat formal but in places it is loosely arranged like an English country garden might be.

Looks like a straight shot, right? Well even though we had a map, the gardens are laid out in such a way that it is actually not so easy to travel from one side to the other and we had to back track a few times and get their via kind of a convoluted route. Of course it was all beautiful along the way.

The roses and the blue delphiniums they used for contrasting punctuation were gorgeous. I've been to a few rose gardens, and this is by far the best. As I've mentioned before, flowers really seem to love this climate.

This is just a small fraction of the roses that were in full bloom.

We finally found our way to the Japanese Garden and through this classic gate. 

The paths led through various viewpoints, up and down little hills, over ponds and streams, and through groupings and glades. In places it was very cool and dark.

 The Japanese Gardens is one of the oldest in the park, having been started by Jennie Butchart in 1906 with the assistance of Isaburo Kishida. Its maturity is evident in the depth and size of its plantings.

Finally we reached Butchart Cove and our little boat.

Along the way we passed this sailing boat tricked out like a pirate ship. 

After that relaxing boat ride we headed back through the Japanese Gardens and on to the Italian Garden. A look back provided one last view of the Cove.

The Star Pond behind the lawn.

Between the Italian Garden and the Rose Garden there are two large expanses of lawns that provide soothing relief for the overstimulated eye. You probably need it too by now.

The main focal point for the Italian Garden is the Star Pond, filled with lily pads 

and surrounded by a short geometrically carved hedge.

Dividing the pond from a classic courtyard is a wall created by another 8-10' perfectly shaped hedge with two arched doorways.

Once inside the courtyard, the feeling and the colors are bold, hot and steamy, in contrast to the cool wetness of the Japanese Garden and the bubbling Star Pond.

The plant combinations throughout the Gardens are wonderful, and especially dramatic in the Italian Gardens.

From the one side of the Italian Garden you can look up the terraces toward the delicate pastels of the Rose Garden.

 More dynamic plant pairings...

From the Italian Gardens we took some time to go home for lunch and rest our feet and eyes. 
Part II coming soon.


  1. Your photos are beautiful. I am going to be visiting Victoria in a couple of weeks and it looks like this garden is worth visiting!


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