The Butchart Gardens Victoria BC is an ideal backdrop to while away the time. Shed the stresses and city pressure and escape to one of Canada’s most wondrous gardens. As Jack Frost leaves, Mother Nature steps in to welcome the garden with a righteous explosion of colour.
A visit to this slice of heaven on earth will make you wish you could return for more discoveries in every season. Thankfully you can.
Mrs Jennie Butchart fell in love with the fashionable Victorian gardens of the day and decided her hubby’s abandoned limestone quarry ought to do the trick for one of her gardening sites.
Located just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island, this garden is no less than 22ha (55 acres).
It started out as a limestone quarry but was turned into a garden as the quarry was abandoned.
Today flower lovers gather regularly for the annual seasonal beauties.
See the changing seasons at the popular spots like the Sunken Garden, famous for its stunning views and Quarry Lake. The Rose Garden is ideal for the perennial peepers and has a blissful fountain.
Butchart Gardens Japanese Garden was known as quite the unconventional garden when it was first planted in 1906.
There’s the Star Pond and, for those in love with the Mediterranean, head to the Italian Garden, the Piazza and the Mediterranean Garden.
Butchart Gardens BC is truly a park for all seasons. Here’s why:
Butchart Gardens in May is a Spring Symphony
In late spring the Himalayan Blue Poppies smile upon those passersby at the fabled Japanese Garden.
The story goes, the owner and gardener Jennie Butchart was such a lover of these dainty perennials, she became one of the first in North America to grow them as the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens had shared their first seeds with her.
Flower lovers will observe one of the first flowers to poke out from the defrosted ground is the wondrous Snowdrop with its dangling white petals bowing to the ground.
Next in quick procession will be the Scilla, Crocus, Muscari and Chionodoxa. Beds of tulips and daffodils elongate and tower and can be found in pockets throughout the garden.
A true symphony of colour!
Each year over 1 million bedding plants in 900 varieties provided uninterrupted blooms from March through October.
To boot, nearly 1-million visitors descend on this floral pageant just to see spring’s fabulous buds of May.
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Fall’s Russets and Golds
When the birds retreat to sunny climates and the temperature dips to a balmy cool there’s a snap, crackle and pop in the air, as your feet touch the mounds of crunchy leaves, a final mark to the old forests disrobing their leafy branches.
After all, autumn has arrived in Canada, and there’s no better way to absorb the good bounty from Mother Nature than to walk in a park laden in golden hues and bright ochres, the kind of earthy tones that set the mood for fall.
The fruits of the summer have reached its zenith, and now, the gardens of begonias and dahlias alongside clusters of fall asters with their deep tones are sadly preparing to end their radiant flowering season.
But even as some of the summer bouquets have faded, the spectacular fall foliage has set in.
One of the biggest pleasures is to see the magnificent Japanese maple trees blazing in rich burgundy reds.
The gardeners there love them so much in fact that Butchart Gardens proudly boasts some of the oldest and largest Japanese maple trees in Canada.
Fall’s a time you’ll spot the gardeners planting 300,000 bulbs of perennials that snuggly lie between beds of daisies, forget-me-nots and pansies.
Best fall colours: October has a display of flaming red and russet Japanese maples.
Butchart Gardens Winter
Snow is rare in Victoria due to its sheltered location along the Georgia Strait.
Although it doesn’t snow regularly, there will be bouts of frost mornings when Butchart Garden takes on an otherworldly quality.
The mood is frankly one of brilliant solitude devoid of crowds. Pick a path and wander through a magical winter wonderland setting, where evenings are aglow in fantastical Butchart Gardens Christmas lights.
Closer to Christmas, it’s the sounds of carolers echoing between the illuminated trees.
Winter is also the time when the gardens show the shape of things to come. See hints of spring begin with early pansies and English daisies.
The garden takes on a whole new look too. During the ‘Magic of Christmas’ season, skaters lace up their skates and hit the outdoor ice rink.
Best winter scene: Butchart Gardens Christmas lights are scheduled from 1 December to 6 January.
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Butchart Gardens Fireworks and Summer scents
Come summertime, Butchart Gardens is in full bloom attracting the largest number of visitors from June through September.
So expect expectations to be high from the loyal blooming public who enjoy sniffing the floral fragrances and admiring the green turf at each step.
Lawn care is apparent.
Over 60 concerts take place from July through August as the blanket laying, lawn chair-toting spectators fling their wares over the green turf.
Don’t forget Saturday nights when the lights dim the sky is illuminated in a technicolour dance of colours to a spectacular fireworks show that blankets the night sky.
But you’d never know this come morning as you start your stroll through any of the gardens.
The beds are brilliant.
The lawn is immaculate and the dahlias are magnificent as some stretch over 10 feet tall.
The large Menagerie Carousel at the Children’s Pavilion is bustling with families. Kids saddle up atop one of the 30 hand-carved wooden animals and two chariots.
Saturday evenings meanwhile explode in further bursts of colour.
This is when thousands of visitors enjoy seeing the Butchart Gardens fireworks illuminating the night sky in a rainbow of colours.
Another crowd favourite is the Dragon Fountain, a gift from the People’s Republic of China and Victoria’s sister city, Suzhou.
Who couldn’t forget popping by the Rose Garden laden in arches by the frog fountain? It’s here where you’ll spot a wealth of Hybrid Tea Roses cascading over the edge as you walk beneath a rose-covered pergola covered in climbing and rambling roses.
Summertime also is boat time at Butchart Gardens. Spend lazy summer afternoons sightseeing the grounds from the comfort of an electronically operated boat that takes passengers on a ride past the remains of the old cement factory.
Best time to visit Butchart Gardens: July and August is peak season for blooming roses.
Ilona is an avid gardener who lovingly tends to the flowers she’s grown from seeds collected from her travels. There are walls of thick flowering vines, a potpourri of lavender from France, zucchini flowers from Italy, and spices from the Middle East. She has even grown a 7-foot Cuban avocado tree from a nut. Ilona’s garden in Toronto is enjoyed by all, but most importantly the numerous hummingbirds, bees and butterflies that take up summer residence there.
Best time to visit Butchart Gardens?
Peak season at Butchart Gardens is July and August but visiting during a quieter season means there’s less of a crowd. As you can see, each season has different flowers and appeal. Butchart gardens hours vary according to the seasons. Generally, the best time of day to visit is early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Butchart Gardens High Tea
Nibble on candied ginger scones, Bergamot-infused chocolate mousse and wild BC salmon pinwheel sandwiches in The Dining Room. The Butchart Gardens High Tea is served in this award-winning restaurant, which was once the original residence of the Butchart family. The restaurant is open for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
Butchart gardens admission
The Butchart Gardens admission fee varies with the seasons. In winter, Butchart Gardens tickets are C$18.35 (adult) and $2 (child) while during peak season in summer, the Butchart Gardens price is C$32.60 (adult) and $3 (child). More here.
Butchart gardens tours
It’s easy to travel around Vancouver Island independently. But if you prefer to join an organized tour, there are several Butchart gardens tours from Vancouver and Butchart gardens tour from Victoria.
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