Butchart Gardens...100 Years of Beauty!

Butchart Gardens...100 Years of Beauty!


A plane flight, a ferry ride, a bus trip and we finally arrived at the world famous Butchart Gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia! It’s gorgeous and worth the effort to visit. As I planned to travel there with my dad in August, I thought ahead about what I should try to learn from our visit to this famous garden. What horticultural lessons could I take away from  this beautiful place?

The sunken garden was built from an old limestone quarry by Jennie Butchart after her husband was done using it to supply limestone for his Portland cement plant. The garden covers 55 acres of the 130 acre estate. I wonder if she ever imagined her garden would be visited by more than l million people a year and still be a beautiful display garden 100 years after it was first planted?

The main part of the garden is sunken and consists of beautiful manicured lawns surrounded by colorful flower beds.  A visitors first glimpse is from above and it’s stunning: IMG_0910adj

Looking down at the garden it’s clear that curvy, flowing beds look lovely surrounded by the green carpet of lawn.  The softness of the beds makes me see that straight lines are probably not as nice as curves when designing flower beds. Next I noticed how the beds where planted:IMG_0916 IMG_0915 IMG_0912

Clumps and groups of the same flowers or plants repeat throughout the garden. No straight rows or scattered  flowers here! The groupings bring a consistency that guides you through the garden.  It’s also apparent when viewing the garden from above that texture, contrast between light and dark and adding appropriately sized trees adds interest and depth to the design.IMG_0911

At the far end of the garden there’s a fountain that changes shape constantly.  We sat enjoying it changeIMG_0917adj IMG_0923adj IMG_0994 and found it hard to walk away.

Next we walked through the rose garden:IMG_0938

Through a arched tunnel with plants growing over concrete “branches”:IMG_0941

To the Japanese garden: IMG_0949 IMG_0948IMG_0944

And then to the Italian garden:IMG_0962 IMG_0957 IMG_0955 IMG_0952

While I used to think I liked the “cottage garden” style of gardening best, while visiting here I felt drawn to the tidiness and clean lines of the more formal look!

Since our schedule allowed only two hours at the garden we ran through to try and see it all and then walked back through our favorite parts…I’ll  leave you with a few more images and encouragement to be sure and visit the garden if you ever have a chance!

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Arriving and leaving on the ferry to Port Angeles, Washington, it’s fun to walk around the area, where you can enjoy the Empress Hotel, the Parliament buildings and the famous hanging baskets of Vancouver…there’s so much to see I hope to go back soon!

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 Photography note: The ideal time to photograph a garden is very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.  The worst time is….you guessed it…exactly when our schedule landed us at the garden…high noon! If you can arrange to be there during the “sweet light” hours you will avoid the high contrast and hot colors caused by the high sun…