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British Columbia Vacations
Victoria Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens - Fifty acres of floral finery offering spectacular views as you stroll along meandering paths and expansive lawns. In 1904, the concept of The Butchart Gardens began with an effort to beautify a worked-out quarry site on the 130-acre estate of Mr. and Mrs. R.P. Butchart, pioneers in the manufacture of Portland Cement in Canada. Their endeavour became a family commitment to horticulture and hospitality spanning more than 90 years and delighting visitors from all over the world. From the exquisite Sunken Garden to the charming Rose Garden, this 50-acre show-place still maintains the gracious traditions of the past, in one of the loveliest corners in the world.

Best Time to Visit
May we suggest a late afternoon visit (after 3pm) from June through September; enjoy the flowers by daylight, stop for refreshment and some light musical entertainment, then see the Gardens again by the romantic Night Illuminations (except Saturday evenings June 29 through August 31 when the popularity of our Firework show can cause long line-ups to enter The Gardens).

Through the years - and week by week - subtle changes alter the face of the garden. Each month there is something of beauty and interest, from the glorious relief of spring to the mass display of fall colour.

In winter the bare bones of the gardens show the shape of things to come, with the gentle variance of texture and colour of the broadleafed evergreens and conifers, the berried trees and shrubs. Hints of spring come from early pansies and English daisies, polyanthus and primroses. The bright red of holly berries and pink blooms of heather are a welcome contrast to the grey of a winter day.

Against a backdrop of blossoming trees and shrubs - forsythia, jasmine, pieris and the early flowering Japanese cherries - early March lays a carpet of crocus, wallflowers and spring flowers. The last week of March is the height of the season for hyacinths and daffodils.

In April the results of the fall planting of more than 250,000 bulbs reach their peak. First with the gold of narcissus and daffodils then with the riot of colour from beds of tulips - Spring dons her mantle. Flowering cherries and plums, crabapples and some 30 species of other flowering shrubs join the display. Rhododendrons and azaleas start to show and the native dogwood is starting to bloom.

In May, the tulips begin to offer their place on the palette of colours to the rhododendrons, azaleas and the early perennials. Siberian wallflowers and forget-me-nots supply both scent and colour, and the unusual handkerchief tree - davidia involucrata - is at its peak. Cinerarias are being planted out with gloriously coloured blooms and schizanthus comes onto the scene in a multitude of hanging baskets.

In June the azaleas and late rhododendrons are at their best. Columbine, delphiniums and - in more shaded places - the rare Himalayan blue poppy join with nemesia, tuberous begonias, stocks, poppies and sweet william to bring in summer. Weigela, deutzia and beauty bush are in full bloom. The Rose Garden bursts into tumultuous colour during the last two weeks of the month and becomes the centre of attraction for visitors to The Butchart Gardens.

During the month of July and into August, the changing beds of annuals, each supplying non-stop colour, welcome the perennials to the show. The roses in all their different forms - climbing, rambling and standard - continue to delight. The Saturday evening Fireworks nights from June 29 through August 31 are extremely popular especially with younger visitors. There is also musical entertainment most evenings as well as the night illuminations.

In September, the displays of tuberous begonias and dahlias reach their zenith. In the perennial borders towering shocks of red, gold and blues of lychnis, solidago and fall asters form a bulwark against the shortening days. Hanging baskets, hydrangeas and fuchsias prolong the summer's glory.

The fall colours peak in October with flaming red and russet Japanese maples. Magnificent arbutus trees and copper beech add more colour to the autumnal scene. The dahlias continue the display assisted by varieties of chrysanthemums until the frost comes.

It is once again time to plant the bulbs for spring. Above the bulbs in freshly-tilled beds, pansies and daisies - some in bloom - mark time in wait for spring.

Replacing the autumn colours of November come sparkling and unique Christmas lights setting the evenings aglow from December 1 to January 6. Carollers and festive entertainment complement the atmosphere for a perfect family visit to The Butchart Gardens at Christmas Time.

Location of The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is located on Vancouver Island 21 km (13 miles) north of Victoria, and 20km (12.5 miles) south of the Vancouver-Victoria ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. Direct driving routes are indicated, in red, on the map (right). Vancouver Island is serviced year 'round by several tour bus companies, public transit buses, frequent daily ferry sailings and airline flights.

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