Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver Island's Garden of Eden
Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island may be one of the most beautiful man-made creations of its' kind on planet Earth. One million people travel here, off the coast of Pacific Canada, every year to bask in the ever evolving creation of a horticultural visionary named Jennie Butchart. It is one of the most beautiful places we have visited.
Butchart Gardens (pronounced "butch-art" as in Butch Cassidy) began as a limestone quarry owned by cement pioneer Robert Pim Butchart and his wife Jennie Butchart. Mr. Butchart made a fortune by introducing the idea of selling cement in sacks rather than barrels, as they had been up to that time. Mrs. Butchart was an adventurous woman ahead of her time. She loved ballooning and flying and she became a qualified chemist.
When the limestone in their quarry was exhausted and all that was left was a huge pit in the earth, Mrs. Butchart had tons of topsoil brought in by horse drawn wagons to line the abandoned quarry. Little by little, Mrs. Butchart began to transform the quarry into a sunken garden complete with a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden and an Italian Garden. Mr Butchart's love of birds led him to contribute ornamental birds from all over the world. He brought in ducks, peacocks, and parrots and was known to hand train pigeons! He had elaborate bird houses placed throughout his wife's beautiful gardens.
By the 1920's, more than 50,000 people a year were coming to enjoy the Butchart's gardens. The Butchart's created Benvenuto Avenue to welcome visitors. Benevenuto is Italian for "welcome!" They lined the avenue with flowering cherry trees purchased from Yokohoma Nursery in Japan.
Today, the gardens are owned by Robin Clarke - the great-grandaughter of Robert Pim and Jennie Butchart. It consists of an amazing 55 acres of sculpted gardens set with a 135 acre property. One million visitors come here each year. Butchart Gardens was recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2004.
Restaurants on-site include -
The Dining Room Restaurant - Fine dining in the historic Butchart home. Enjoy Afternoon Tea all year long. Lunch and dinner served seasonally.
The Blue Poppy Restaurant - Cafeteria-style, offering moderately priced selections in a flower-filled conservatory setting. Hours vary seasonally.
The Coffee Shop - Sandwiches, pastries, specialty coffees and ice cream.
Butchart Gardens is located on Vancouver Island, 14 miles north of Victoria, and 12.5 miles south of the Vancouver-Victoria ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. Their street address is 800 Benvenuto Avenue in Brentwood Bay. Their phone number is 250-652-5256 or toll-free 866-652-4422.
We were fortunate enough to be given a guided tour by Chemainus residents Joe and Irene Hudak, a pharmacist and former art gallery owner. Their knowledge and local insight into this world-famous garden was a tremendous asset.
Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places we have visited. Robert Pim Butchart and Jennie Butchart's creation that literally transformed an eyesore into an exquisite and elegant attraction is a must-see when visiting Pacific Coast Canada.
Watch our video of Butchart Gardens -
______________________________________ We were the guests of Butchart Gardens in 2009
Florida Cruise & Travelers Magazine
PO Box 560318
Rockledge, FL 32956 USA
copyright Sunny Harbor Publishing