Friday, March 08, 2013
Late Winter at Butchart Gardens
At the time of our Christmas Day visit to Butchart Gardens I upgraded my entrance ticket to a season's pass. I sort of forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I've been watching the skies and my calendar, looking for a dry, not-occupied day to walk through the gardens.
From January 15 to March 15 part of the original house is open to the public with historical documents and artifacts chronicling some of the history of the gardens and of the Butchart family. You can read more of the history online. Above is a small garden room. The pink rose wallpaper is covered with a gray-painted wooden trellis. Sitting there would feel like being in a garden, especially with the white wicker furniture.
Isn't this a pretty little causeuse, or conversation chair? It's designed so two people can sit facing each other to chat, or "causer" in French.
The billiards room is very large, with window seats on each end of the room, several sofas, a player piano and a grand piano, along with a couple of desks and display cases. I noticed that some of the old photos showed a swimming pool someplace, so I asked the assistant about it. He opened a door off the billiard room "behind the scenes" and showed me where the pool had been. It was an indoor salt-water pool, now cracked and covered to prevent any mishaps.
From the billiard room and the garden room, the windows open onto the Italian Garden. This area was once a tennis court, but it was little used and so converted into the garden seen above. The wing of the house visible on the right is long and narrow and was originally a bowling alley - so the grandchildren would be entertained. It now houses a gardening library.
Here's a view of the house from the Italian Garden. The Butcharts moved to Victoria from Owen Sound, Ontario, to start up a Portland Cement factory. When you read the history of the gardens, you'll discover that Jenny Butchart decided to beautify the huge empty hole that resulted from quarrying the limestone. She had tons of topsoil hauled in and began planting. What vision she had. Tod Inlet adjoins the gardens, and I wrote about a walk we took there last January.
I'll show more of the gardens themselves tomorrow. It's a great time of year to visit. Not many crowds, and although the blooms are few, the structure of the garden is clearly visible.
Have you visited Butchart Gardens? I'm always surprised by the number of people who have, from all over the world.