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From January 15 to March 15 part of the original house is open to the public with historical documents and artifacts chronicling some of the history of the gardens and of the Butchart family.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. 


  1. J'ai hâte de voir les photos du jardin demain, déjà la maison est magnifique, et la pièce de style asiatique... quel calme et quel atmosphère sereine !

  2. It looks lovely! The garden room ('Asian style' Carole says - good point!) is really charming, and the spring flowers are just great. We have season tickets to the nearby safari park/small zoo, and I love the way that they allow us to pop in for half an hour whenever we have time, rather than trying to 'do' the whole area in one day. We've been four times over the hols, as it's just the right amount of walking for Son 1's recovering knee!

  3. It is a wonderful place. Like you, I have a season's pass perhaps we could walk there one day this spring.

  4. How interesting to be able to walk-through the original home. Glad you got to the gardens before the 'ides of March'. Looking forward to the garden tour...tomorrow. Winter gardens have a different kind of beauty!

  5. These are beautiful photos Lorrie. I enjoyed hearing the history of the house and gardens. We visited there in 1976 and I have pictures in an album. Maybe I'll get to the island this summer and see the gardens again. It would be nice to do so.

  6. I think I would find the house very interesting too, not just the garden. There is something ‘modern’ about the pictures you show, nothing of any great age. I like the clean cut lines of ‘modern’.

  7. Sadly we didn't get there on nay of our Canadian visits. What a lovely place. I would so like a garden room like that.

  8. Alas, I am one who has not visited this beautiful place so Thank You for the tour with your lovely pictures.

  9. How nice to be able to visit inside the rooms. My sisters and I visited the gardens in early April a couple years ago in the rain. It was nice to be there without crowds but it would have been nice to also have it dry. Love your photos!

  10. I haven't had the pleasure of visiting, but have certainly heard many describe it as a beautiful place.

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  12. Yes, I've visited twice, and fell in love with everything. Always hoping to return again some day - perhaps this time of year which would be different from Summer. We chatted with some of the gardeners - they were from the Azores and England!

    Hugs - and thanks for sharing.

    Mary X

  13. No, I have never visited. My parents did many years ago and brought back a beautiful calendar.
    It looks like a place I would LOVE to visit. Maybe someday...
    Your photos are lovely and I enjoyed the tour very much. That conversation chair is so unique and your last photo with the moss and crocuses is so lush. I can almost smell the moist spring earth.


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