The Butchart Gardens
Famed for its Sunken Garden and Japanese Garden, The Butchart Gardens are wonderful to visit at any time of the year. Allow plenty of time to view all the gardens and enjoy its special events.
Butchart Gardens - Victoria BC attractions
Robert Pim Butchart moved his cement production business from Ontario to Tod Inlet near Victoria BC in 1904. The limestone deposits became worked out of the quarry near their home within a few years. One tall chimney from the old kiln can still be seen, remaining from the business which closed in 1916. His wife Jennie saw the potential to create a garden in the abandonned quarry so had top soil brought in by horse and cart; an enormous undertaking not completed until 1921. The family archives even has a photograph of her suspended in a bosun's chair planting into the high rockface. This, the spectacular Sunken Garden, was preceded in 1906 by the Japanese Garden designed by Isaburo Kishida, an Italian Garden, and in 1929 the Rose Garden with over 100 varieties of hybrid tea rose plants alongside 400 grandiflora roses and climbing roses.
Courtesy of The Butchart Gardens Ltd., Victoria, BC, Canada
Visitors naturally flocked to see their endeavour - 18,000 cups of tea were served in 1916. By this time 50,000 visitors were coming annually to "Benvenuto", Italian for "Welcome". No longer could Jennie personally serve tea to her visitors! The Butchart Gardens, as they naturally became known, continued to be a family enterprise. In 1936 four hundred flowering Japanese cherry trees added a welcome along Benvenuto Avenue.
After the Second World War their grandson Ian Ross introduced an admission charge, opened a teahouse in the conservatory which soon developed into a full restaurant and began concerts from the open-air stage. The nursery was enlarged and the Seed and Gift Store opened. Summer illuminations were introduced in 1954 and the 70' high Ross Fountain was installed ten years later helping the Gardens become one of the leading BC tourism attractions. Up to 10,000 people come to enjoy fireworks on July and August Saturday evenings. A team of over 50 gardeners is now employed to plant and care for over 700 hundred varieties, including dramatic massed plantings, enjoyed by over 1.2 million visitors each year. In 2004, its centenary, the Gardens were designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Left = Sunken Garden. Right = Courtesy of The Butchart Gardens Ltd., Victoria, BC, Canada
When planning your visit from Victoria bed and breakfasts you should allow several hours to enjoy the Butchart Gardens, longer if you are here from mid-June to mid-September when the gardens are illuminated in the evening. Also allow time for other local attractions such as whale-watching, visiting the Royal BC Museum, touring the Saanich Peninsula including its wineries, the fruit stands and nearby Butterfly Gardens, strolling around the downtown Inner Harbour and driving along the East coast to Chemainus or along the quiet rugged West coast. A minimum three night stay in the area is recommended (see below).
January 1st to March 15th. A historical display of memorabilia is open inside the Butchart home. There is also a remarkable interior display open until March 31st. Garden feature: pansies, primroses, daisies, daffoldils, polyanthus, crocuses, hyacinths, forsythia, wallflowers.
March 16th to June 14th. Hundreds of thousands of bulbs create spectacular Spring colour. Garden features: narcissus, daffodils, tulips, forget-me-nots, cherries, plums, rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwoods.
June 15th to September 30th. The splendid floral displays are also illuminated in the evenings. There are evening entertainment concerts on the lawn (see schedule on their website) and fireworks displays on Saturdays from July 5th to September 6th 2014. Garden features: azaleas, columbine, delphiniums, begonias, poppies, sweet william, dahlias, begonias, hydrangeas, fuschias, hanging baskets, and, of course, roses.
October 1st to November 30th. The Japanese Garden is full of autumnal colour. Garden features: dahlias, chrysanthemums (over 50 varieties), copper beech, arbutus trees.
December 1st to January 6th. The magic of Christmas is apparent through pretty lights, the ice rink (skate rentals available), and for the Twelve Days of Christmas displays.
There is an elegant Dining Room inside Benvenuto, the Blue Poppy Restaurant, and a coffee shop. We recommend the Gardens as a venue for Afternoon Tea (the only other in Victoria we strongly recommend is the White Heather Tearoom, but not the over-priced Empress Hotel). Some days you can purchase hampers to enjoy on-site, with or without wine.
Re-admissions are permitted on any day and for just $3.50 on the following day, except on Fireworks Saturdays. Wheelchairs and strollers may be borrowed.
Below is our Butchart Gardens slideshow:
See photos of the Butchart Gardens on our Flickr photostream.
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We have many B&B guests who come to see the Gardens and then regret that they have not planned to stay longer to enjoy more attractions and activities in the Victoria area. Here are a few suggestions:
- Whale watching is a memorable experience which we can book for you
- See other local gardens
- Wander in downtown Victoria: explore the Inner Harbour, the magnificent Royal BC Museum, take a bus or horse-drawn carriage tour.
- Shop in Antique Row, Chinatown or Government Street.
- Visit Craigdarroch Castle, a Victorian family mansion.
- Savour afternoon high tea - we can recommend several settings.
- Enjoy fine dining locally or downtown – we can make reservations including the Butchart Gardens Dining Room.
- Tour and taste BC wines at local vineyards.
- Take a West coast drive: quiet natural scenery close to the sea,
- Or an East coast drive: various ‘sights’ en route to the interesting town of Chemainus.
- Explore beaches, parks, hiking trails, golf courses, kayaking, fishing, trail rides etc.
Butchart Gardens bed and breakfasts