In springtime many people spend hours outside planting, weeding and tending to their gardens. Whether for their own personal enjoyment or to share with others, gardening can be a beautiful and meditative activity.
Although I only keep a few rose bushes and a bed of poppies and Love-in-the-Mist, I am grateful for those who do much more and share their gardens with the public.
Gardens Near and Far
Over the years I have visited, photographed and written about many beautiful gardens.
Some are across the pond: Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam, Villa Comunale in Taormina, Sicily, and the lovely gardens of Queenstown, Wellington and my favorite, Dunedin Botanic Garden in New Zealand.
Other gardens are closer to home: Balboa Park in San Diego, the Arboretum in Davis, Sacramento’s McKinley Rose Garden, and even the Farm on exhibit each year at the California State Fair!
Last May I had the pleasure of visiting Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. This horticultural work of art began as a barren rock quarry and blossomed into a world-renowned garden attraction that, in 2004, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
Here’s a bit of the Butchart Garden story, as gleaned from their website:
In the beginning …
Robert Pim Butchart, a pioneer in the thriving North American cement industry, was attracted . . . to Canada’s West Coast by rich limestone deposits. In 1904, he developed a quarry and built a cement plant at Tod Inlet (on Vancouver Island) to satisfy Portland cement demand from San Francisco to Victoria. Jennie Butchart became the company’s chemist. Close to the quarry, the Butcharts established the family home complete with sweet peas and rose bushes.
As Mr. Butchart exhausted limestone deposits, his enterprising wife Jennie, made plans to create something of beauty in the gigantic exhausted pit. From farmland nearby, she had tons of top soil brought in by horse and cart and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, the quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.
A Garden Grows
Between 1906 and 1929, the Butcharts created a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court and a beautiful Rose Garden. . . .
An enthusiastic hobbyist, Mr. Butchart collected ornamental birds from all over the world. He kept ducks in the Star Pond, noisy peacocks on the front lawn and many elaborate birdhouses throughout the gardens.
After service in WWII, grandson Ian Ross worked hard to make his grandmother’s garden self-sustaining, transforming the mostly neglected home and gardens into an internationally famous destination. . . .
The renown of Mrs. Butchart’s gardening quickly spread. By the 1920s more than fifty thousand people visited her garden each year. The hospitable Butcharts christened their estate “Benvenuto”, the Italian word for “Welcome”. . .
Each year over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties give you uninterrupted bloom from March through October. Almost a million people visit annually for spring’s colorful flowering bulbs; summer’s riot of color, entertainment and Saturday Fireworks; fall’s russets and golds; the Magic of Christmas’ decorations; and winter’s peacefulness.
The Garden is very Wheelchair-Accessible
We visited the gardens as a shore excursion near the end of our Alaskan cruise. Since Carrieanna had already visited Butchart Gardens (more than once) she chose to stay aboard the ship.
We were fortunate to be granted after-hours access and found most of the garden to be wheelchair accessible, with wide and well-paved paths and beauty around every curve and corner!
Enchanting and Enticing
Here are a few more photos (all by Jeri Murphy Photography – formerly known as Images by RJM) to entice you to visit Butchart Gardens: