It is spring time and we are in Victoria on Vancouver Island. A visit to the world renowned Butchart Gardens is a must and had been on our “todo” list for quite a while.
The Butchart Gardens lie half-way between Victoria and Sidney on the south eastern portion of Vancouver Island and was only a half hour drive from our B&B in Victoria. Linda had purchased tickets online a few days prior as we did not know how busy it was going to be. We arrived promptly at 9:30am, when the gates open, and were surprised to see several dozen cars already parked. As a side note, the license plates revealed there were visitors from far away places such as Virginia, South Carolina and Florida (about as far away from Vancouver Island as you can get!). Obviously, the place has a wide ranging reputation!
We were not disappointed! The gardens were beautiful! While we had missed the tulips and other bulbs (a few were still there, but clearly passed their peak), but the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and many others were in full bloom.
The Gardens are divided into multiple sections, a sunken garden, a Japanese Garden, an Italian Garden, etc. Each has a distinct “feel”to it, adding great interest to the whole experience.
We were particularly delighted by the Japanese Garden, there is something superbly elegant about it. We found out that the Japanese Garden was designed by 65-year-old garden designer Isaburo Kishida of Yokohama in 1902. He had come to Victoria, at the request of his son, to build a tea garden that became wildly popular and a place to be seen. Several prominent citizens, Jennie Butchart among them, commissioned Japanese gardens from Kishida for their estates.
Robert Butchart had made his fortune manufacturing Portland cement in the 1880s and 1890s and he and his wife Jennie Butchart established their home on Vancouver Island in 1904.
Ownership of The Gardens remains within the Butchart family, even today. The current owner and managing director is the Butcharts’ great-granddaughter Robin-Lee Clarke. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada and receive close to a million visitors each year.
This year, we were two of them.