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Butchart Gardens: Summer or Winter the Gardens Delight near Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia

Butchart Gardens is easily one of the finest gardens on the North American continent. Located on Vancouver Island about equidistant from Victoria and Vancouver, no visit to the Vancouver/Victoria area would be complete without spending the day enjoying these spectacular gardens. Oddly enough, much of the topographical interest of the gardens comes from its origin as a limestone quarry.

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History of Butchart Gardens

Robert Butchart made his fortune in cement, quarrying the abundant limestone in the area and in manufacturing Portland cement. The process of quarrying the limestone created an enormous pit. When the limestone was exhausted, there was a humongous crater in the ground that was spectacular for its ugliness.

Jennie Butchart may have known nothing about gardening, but she knew beauty. When the family settled in the area she began to create gardens surrounding the house. The exhausted quarry represented both a challenge, and a unique opportunity. And the result is the world-class, National Historic Site of Canada Butchart Gardens.

The Gardens

That ugly quarry has become the "WOW" inducing Sunken Garden. A particularly deep section of the quarry became a lake, complete with a stream and waterfall. Ivy covered the naked rock walls. Over the years a children's pavilion and the Rose Carousel were added. Additional gardens expanded Butchart Gardens into a horticultural masterpiece - art created by flowering plants, trees, and shrubs.

Bits of old equipment are tucked into corners of the gardens as homage to its origins as a limestone quarry. You can also find photos documenting the amazing transformation in the Visitors Center.

Summer and Winter and Tea

In summer, visitors can also take a 45-minute ride in their electric boat exploring the history and wildlife of inlet and bay. Enjoy a performance on the concert stage, stroll through the gardens at night when they are lit up like glittering fairy lights. Flowers bloom in profusion with the crew of gardeners making sure that there are always beautiful blooms.

It's also the destination for those loving a formal tea amid the beauties of the natural world.

In winter, the gardens during into a fairyland with tens of thousands of colored lights, evergreen swags, holly wreaths, and winter berries lining walkways and festooning lamp posts. Enjoy the Twelve Days of Christmas displays tucked into different garden areas. There's even an outdoor ice rink so visitors can skate among the winter beauty.

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Neala McCarten

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: October 16, 2016

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