Since the planning began for this drive-about a year ago, my mind had circled this date. My parents drove their kids to Seattle in 1960 for the World’s Fair. They also took us up the chairlifts on Mount Rainer, to the movie theater to see John Wayne’s “Hatari,” and on the ferry to Victoria to walk through Butchart Gardens. Even as a ten-year-old, I became caught up in the colors and artistry of the landscaping. I recall thinking that this was a REAL version of Disneyland’s Storybook Land.
Robert and Jennie Butchart were in the concrete business in Ontario, but decided to relocate to British Columbia. They started a quarry on Vancouver Island because of its rich limestone deposits. They built an estate near the quarry, and engaged a visiting Japanese artist to construct a garden for their property. The tennis courts were turned into an Italian garden.
And when the quarries played out, Jennie told Robert that she was not going to stare down at big holes in the ground. This prompted a ten year project to build the sunken gardens. To me, this is the cream of the gardens… The walking paths were gentle enough for Mrs Bear’s wheels to push through. And the colors and varieties of trees and flowers were numbing…Literally, plants from all around the world.
The pic below is from a dock that will take you out in their electric boat for a water tour. Our lecturer on our cruise had said that this view from the dock was his favorite… It is where the gardens end and nature begins.
The Gardens are still owned and managed by the Butchart family. Their home is now a restaurant. Over one million visitors walk these artistic paths every year. Finally, if you can’t make it to Victoria, go on down to DisneyWorld…The Gardens are the inspiration for the grounds surrounding the Canadian Pavilion at Epcot Center.