While on vacation in Canada last month, my friend Kitty and I visited the fabulous Butchart Gardens, which had long been a dream of mine. After hours of wandering the gardens and hundreds of photos snapped, we wanted to share the beauty of this amazing place. Before coming home, we collaborated on an article and submitted it to the Key West Citizen Newspaper. Here is the article as published.
THE KEY WEST CITIZEN◆SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Over 100 years in bloom and still going at Butchart Gardens by Lori Harryman and Kitty Somerville
For two avid gardeners and long-time friends, a visit to Victoria, British Columbia, is like taking a child to a candy store. The city is filled with an abundance of flowers. It is not possible to take a picture without a flower in the frame. Even the gas stations have manicured overflowing flowerbeds, but the icing on the cake is Butchart Gardens, listed as one of the top 10 gardens in the world.
At the turn of the 20th century, Robert and
Jennie Butchart moved to Todd Inlet, just north of Victoria on Vancouver
Island. They found limestone to support Robert’s cement plant, however, by 1908
the quarry was exhausted and the landscape scarified. In an attempt to hide
this gigantic pit near the house, Jennie began to implement her vision of a
beautiful garden. Like many of us who love to garden, Jennie was driven by her
desire, yet by her own admission, in the beginning she knew nothing about
the concept of a sunken garden took shape Jennie had enormous amounts of soil
brought in from nearby farms to form the garden bed. The debris on the floor of
the quarry pit was pushed into tall mounds on which terraced flowers were
planted. This was the start of Butchart Gardens and over one hundred
years of blooms.
|The Sunken Garden|
|Rose Arbor in the Rose Garden|
|The Ross Fountain in the Sunken Garden|
In 1939 the Butcharts gifted the garden to their grandson, Ian Ross, on his twenty-first birthday. The garden grew under his leadership to showcase the many themed gardens of today. Among them, the sunken garden hosts the Ross fountain where water rises 70 feet for a magnificent display. Each year over one million bedding plants, in some 900 varieties, give uninterrupted blooms from March through October. Each spring there are over 300,000 bulbs in bloom.
On our visit in July we saw splendid vistas where
every flower bloom was a perfect match to the other in height, color and tone. There were spectacular
beds of annuals, each supplying non-stop color. Tuberous begonias were in their
zenith, with the largest blooms we had ever seen. The dahlias ranged in size from dinner plate
to dwarf. The rose garden was filled with beauty and interest highlighting 6,600
roses in all their different forms and colors. Ponds, small waterfalls, bonsai
trees and bamboo arches added to the serenity of the Japanese garden.
Butchart Gardens is an exceptional achievement in gardening
history. Through successive generations of the Butchart family, this site has
retained much of its original design, and continues the Victorian tradition of
seasonally changing the outstanding floral displays. Today the 55 acre
Butchart Gardens is still family owned and operated and is visited by nearly
one million people each year.
|Spectacular Beds of Non-stop Color|
|Butchart Gardens is an Exceptional Achievement in Gardening History|