The Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia (about 20 minutes away from Victoria) is one of Canada’s premier horticultural destinations, designated as a National Historic Site. It was created early in the 20th century by Jennie Butchart, the wife of Robert Butchart, who was president of BC Cement. She took one of her husband’s abandoned limestone quarries close to their home and turned it into a flowering oasis.
But she didn’t stop there. In addition to the quarry garden (now called the Sunken Garden), she designed a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden, and an Italian Garden. From the beginning, she invited visitors to tour the grounds, and the family still continues that tradition today.
When I visited in May of this year, I probably chose the best time to go since the rhododendrons and tulips were out in full force. Explosions of intense colour were everywhere, and the scent of blooming flowers was heavenly.
Coming upon the Sunken Garden was a bit of a surprise. I didn’t see it until I turned a corner, and there it was laid out before me.
I was especially delighted by the Japanese Garden, which had lots of nooks and crannies that invited quiet contemplation. Although that was impossible due to the number of visitors roaming about, I could still imagine Jennie taking time to pause and perch on a stone bench to take in the results of her handiwork in progress. I’m sure she would be more than satisfied in how it all turned out.
Check out The Butchart Gardens online.