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Friday, May 20, 2011

VICTORIA'S HISTORIC BUTCHART GARDENS


As part of our Royal Wedding weekend, my friend and I went to historic Victoria B.C. to celebrate. One of the special things we did on our last day there was to visit the famous Butchart Gardens.
Victoria B.C.'s historic Butchart Gardens is one of the most popular floral show gardens on the West Coast. This magnificent landscaped area which covers 22 ha(55 acres) was conceived in 1904 and designed by Jennie Butchart after the limestone quarry that her husband Robert Pim Butchart had acquired for his burgeoning cement business was exhausted.  Under Jennie's supervision and artist eye, the abandoned quarry blossomed into a spectacular Sunken Garden.

The gardens grew into a beautiful early 20th century showpiece in the style of the grand estates of the period.  Besides grassy lawns, flower beds, ornamental trees and a unique collection of memorabilia brought by the Butcharts from their travels,  there are nurseries for plants, trees and shrubs.
Among the objects collected from their travels is the Fountain of the Three Sturgeons and the life-like bronze casting of a wild boar, both from Florence, Italy.
Fountain of the Three Sturgeons
The Butcharts also created a beautiful Italian garden beside their house.

The Italian garden
 By the 1920's more than fifty thousand people were coming each year to visit the Butchart's Gardens and today they are one of the most popular tourist destination for visitors to Vancouver Island and Victoria.






The Butchart's luxurious house which included a bowling alley, indoor salt-water swimming pool, billiard room and a self-playing Aeolianpipe organ, is now the Dining Room Restaurant and offices with some rooms still used for family entertaining.  The Garden is still operated by the family.  The Rose Carousel, the only carousel on Vancouver Island, is a fun diversion for youngsters and adults alike. The carousel is a menagerie of animals, birds and decorative mirrors. The designs were hand picked by the great grand daughter of Jennie Butchart and the carvings were done by some of the few remaining carvers of carousel art.  It's housed in the Children's Pavilion under a clear dome and a roof planted with native plant species.


A popular part of Butchart's is the Japanese garden area where you can walk quietly under the trees over small ornate bridges and cross the creeks on stepping stones. 

Everywhere you look,  the gardens are full of glorious blooms.  On this visit it was a brilliant array of tulips and blossoming trees.  It's easy to see how Butchart's Gardens has an international reputation for it's year round displays of flowering plants. 


This visit to Butchart's Gardens was a perfect way for my friend and I to end our special visit to Victoria to celebrate the Royal Wedding weekend.






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