U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Butchart Inspiration

Every time we go to Vancouver Island, Canada, we visit Butchart Gardens located just north of Victoria, B.C. By the way, Victoria, which is the capital of British Columbia, is a special place for us since we got engaged there.

All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them
For me, not only are the gardens themselves amazing, but also their history is too.
The idea of transforming an exhausted limestone quarry into a garden is fascinating in and of itself. Jennie Butchart is the person behind the project of converting the 50- acre quarry into the world famous gardens that started in 1904.
The Sunken Garden.
This is where the abandoned quarry was located. It took tons of top soil brought by horse and cart to cover its floor.

The structure seen on the above picture, taken from the Sunken Garden lookout, is the only surviving portion of Robert Butchart's cement factory. It's the kiln's chimney. Interesting fact: The plant stopped producing cement in 1916, but continued to make tiles and flower pots as late as 1950.
The Sunken Garden was inspired by a casual dare from a Butchart friend. I read that after hearing the remark that "even you would be unable to get anything to grow there," Mrs. Butchart was intrigued with the challenge to transform the tremendous, ugly site into a wonderful garden.

The colorful flower beds, borders and lush lawns exist today in shape and form as Mrs. Butchart designed them.
The Italian Garden was created by 1908.

This garden is the most formal of all the gardens and has the shape of a Florentine cross.

The Mermaid and Fish Fountain feed the cross-shaped lily pond which dominates this garden.

The lily pond is surrounded by flower beds with spectacular blooms.

The Ross fountain was built in 1964 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Butchart Gardens.

It shoots an array of changing water patterns that rise up to 70 feet.
The Japanese Gardens are exquisite:

The English-style Rose Garden is bursting with all shades of red, pink, purple and blue. Charming rose arches, towering delphiniums, sweet peas and peonies take your breath away.

Roses, most of them Hybrid Teas, are marked with the country of origin and the year selected by the American Rose Society.

Climbers, ramblers, standards... Their fragrances fill the air.

We've been to Butchart Gardens only in summer, but the gardens stay beautiful all year round. From March through October, over one million bedding plants in about 700 varieties are used to create patterns of non-stop color.

This is the great site to visit and learn more: The Butchart Gardens
Some facts from that site:
Rainfall 76 cm (30 inches) plus. Most of this rainfall occurs between November and March. Temperature extremes range from a maximum high (rare) of 36 degrees C/97 degrees F to a maximum low (again extremely rare) of minus 10°C/14°F. A typical summer daytime temperature is from 22 - 26°C/ 72 - 79°F and winter daytime temperatures typically 5 - 10°C/41 - 50°F.

I always feel lucky to be a part of almost a million people visiting these magnificent gardens each year.

***Copyright 2009 TatyanaS


  1. What a wondeful tour! Thanks for sharing. I'd be drooling over everything if I went there for a visit. ;) -Jackie

  2. I've always wanted to visit it and Vancouver sounds like the perfect place to live. I think I could be happy there!

  3. This is my most favorite garden ever! It's so nice to see pictures other than the ones posted on the official website. Thank you very, very much for posting them!--Randy

  4. Jaw dropping beauty here! It's a must to enlarge these photos!!! Breathtaking. Love a good challenge!

  5. WOW! What a great garden to visit. The Japanese garden I think I liked most. I'll probably never see it myself. Thanks for charing / gittan

  6. This looks like a place where one can loose oneself in the surrounding beauty of Nature - thank you for sharing the magic.

  7. oh my goodness Tatyana, what a beautiful place. I was trying to figure out the purple and red flowers in the first picture, interesting combination. Begonias and Heliotrope? Very pretty gardens throughout. And I like the doggie drinking station...nice.

  8. So much to see. i love the Delphiniums and Roses but also the green planting of hostas.

  9. Oh, Tatyana, how I envy you. That's a place I've always wanted to visit, right here in my own country, except waaaaaaaaaay over there. You've done an excellent job with the pictures -- which are even drool-worthy in small format. Thanks for the tour.

    BTW, I still can't figure out how to extract the image for the prize you awarded us. So I guess I'll just have to let it reside on your blog page, along with my thanks.

  10. AnonymousJune 12, 2009

    Hi Tatyana~~ Having never witnessed in person the Butchart's legacy, your photos are a real treat. You must have had a wonderful time.

  11. I think I died and went to heaven!
    I better start playing the lottery so
    that I can have a garden like that,
    what an amazing garden, thanks for the tour.

  12. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Kim and I really need to get up there some year.
    Great photos, Tatyana!

  13. Thanks for taking me on a little trip this evening and seeing the gardens through your eyes! I love blue flowers, so I enjoyed in particular the delphiniums!

  14. Wow, what an amazing place. I must get there someday... :)

  15. Hi Jackie! Thank you! You'll be so busy admiring all those flowers, you'll forget to drool!

    Phillip, I like both Vancouvers: Vancouver city is beautiful and was named one of the best cities in the world several times. Vancouver Island is for more calm, relaxing life.

    Thank you Randy! You are very welcome! I like to go through the pictures of Butchart Gardens and Victoria from time to time and find more and more plants, houses and water views to dream about.

    Thank you Darla! This is the place where I am ready to go every year (not that I can do it every year!)

    Hi Gittan! I like Japanese Garden, too. Even with all the visitors, I feel like in a different world there.
    Thank you Klara! It is nice in the gardens and beyond them. The whole island is a great place to visit.

    Janet, thank you! Isn't that doggie drink station great?! I don't know what is that flower combination,but I have some additional pictures of begonias and geraniums which I can post later.

    Joanne, thank you! Those delphiniums drove me insane, they were so huge! The Rose Garden was so bright and multi-colorful that it was very relaxing to get to the Japanese Gardens after it.

    Helen, thank you! I hope that one day we'll be reading your post about these gardens!

    Hi Grace! I just see you leading a group of oregonians on the tour to Butchart gardens!

    Cathy, thank you! We are lucky to live so close to the Canadian border, that makes a trip there very easy. If I won a lottery, I'd buy a houseboat in Victoria.

    Victoria, thank you! I hope you can do it in a close future!

    Islandgardener, thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the tour. I love delphiniums but don't have any success with them.

    Jennifer, thank you for stopping by! Vancouver island is a good destination.

  16. One of my favorite places to go. I've been there a couple of times and it just doesn't get old. Even Bob said there is just a picture to take everywhere. I had the camcorder and he had the camera. We happen to be there once on what was Canada Day I believe and decided we wanted to go back that same weekend every year to once again sit on the waterfront and listen to the Victoria Symphony play. It was wonderful! But we haven't made it!

  17. One of these days I'll get to visit Vancouver island -- at least I got to preview this beautiful garden thanks to your excellent and beautiful photos. Thanks for the tour!

  18. Great gardens! We don't really have an spectacular gardens around here to visit, but I did enjoy visiting castle gardens overseas. This one puts all those to shame!

  19. Once again, stunning photographs. Thank you, this was a real joy. Clare

  20. I have always wanted to visit Butchart. It's a shame to miss it when it's so close. Thanks for bringing it closer.

  21. Someday in the not too distant future I am going to spend days in this lovely garden. I have wanted to for longer than I can remember and it isn't really that far from me here in Idaho! Your photos are wonderful!

  22. Awesome tour!! Thanks, Tatyana! I could spend all day just in the rose garden. Wouldn't be great if Spring Fling took place there one year?? I WILL make it to Butchart Gardens one of these days...hey Heather, call me when you're free!

  23. Thanks for the wonderful tour. I've not heard of these gardens before, but the history you laid out makes me want to know more. They are all gorgeous. And to imagine a factory was there at one point!

  24. What a wonderful series of photos and narrative to take us on the perfect tour (perfect-except that we can't be there in person!). It was the 'next best thing' to experience this magnificent place through your interesting blog post! I can see why you enjoy it so much;-)

  25. Now that has to be at least fairly close to perfection!

  26. Linda, you are so close to that place, I am sure you'll do it again!

    Meredith, Heather, Lynn, I will wait for your pictures of Butchart Gardens!

    Sylvana, Hi and thanks for visiting! I'm glad you liked it!

    Thank you, Tina! Isn't it amazing what one person with a great vision can do?! Plus helpers and finances, of course...

    Jan and Brenda, thanks! You both take such great pictures, we need to send you there!

  27. AnonymousJune 14, 2009

    How lucky you are to live near my dream garden! Someday I hope to visit Butchart, and now I want to even more. So incredible. I had no idea it was built in an old limestone quarry. Thanks for sharing.

  28. AnonymousJune 16, 2009

    Butchart is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited. We were there in Sept. when roses, dahlias, tuberous begonias, fuchsias were fabulous. I love the way they have delphiniums in the roses. Thanks for sharing your photos of another season in the garden. Donna.

  29. I had the good fortune of touring this garden too about 16 years ago. It was fall tho, instead of prime gardening season but even then it was spectacular. What Mrs. Butchart created is nothing short of amazing. I would love to go back in June and see the delphiniums ~ they look magnificent. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.


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