Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Garden Time

Late last week I had had enough of cajoling students to turn in their work, and of marking less-than-stellar assignments. I turned off my computer, collected my camera, and drove 15 minutes to Butchart Gardens. 

Very few people were there. Tourism is in the basement this year, as it should be. Paths are designated as one-way only. I looked down at the Sunken Garden and thought about how Jennie Butchart, faced with an unsightly abandoned cement quarry near to her home, had the vision to transform the ugliness into something beautiful. What dreams she had. How hard she worked. 

Jennie's husband wasn't so much enthralled by flowers as by rare birds. One year while the couple were traveling in Europe, Robert Butchart got word that two of his prized wood ducks, imported from Germany, had been attacked by a bald eagle and were no longer. Since the couple were already on the continent, Robert thought that a detour via Germany to collect replacement birds would be a good idea. Jennie protested, saying that they would miss their boat back to Canada. However, Robert insisted and the couple had to make alternate arrangements for their return. As it turns out, the boat they missed was the Titanic. 

As I walked along the paths, stopping frequently to admire the views, tension dropped away. Emilie Barnes writes,

 "Garden time is time that involves itself in the moment, that passes each moment fully alive, that focuses on the soaring stateliness of trees and the minute scale of the tiniest blossom and insect."

I'll leave you to enjoy the garden photos, with some collected garden thoughts along the way. 

"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas." 
(Elizabeth Murray)

"God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures." 
(Francis Bacon)

"Most garden dreams thrive on hope - for what is a dream but imaginative hope? And gardeners, as a group, are the most hopeful people I know." 
(Emilie Barnes)

"Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come when we are alone. It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing, to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen." 
(Gladys Taber)

"Above all, I must have flowers, always and always."         (Claude Monet)

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." 
(Marcel Proust)

Enjoy your day, dear friends.


  1. What a beautiful place to wander! Thank goodness they had to rearrange their travel!

  2. That is a garden that I would love to visit. I imagine it was much more satisfying to wander amongst all that beauty than to mark exams. What a work of art that garden is.

  3. Enjoyed, Lorrie!! Beautiful Butchart Gardens! Lovely quotations about gardens. I want to come back and savour more fully. xox

  4. Thanks for sharing these amazing images. It has been many, many years since I was there.

  5. Oh your photos! Oh the Proust quote . I love it and must send it to someone. Wow, the Titanic story is amazing

  6. The story makes the beautiful photos and flowers more spectacular.

  7. I really admire people who dream and develop these beautiful spaces for all of us to enjoy. Glad you had this little escape...

  8. I did not know that tidbit about the Butcharts. We've been to the gardens in summer and also for Christmas. It was magical.
    Love the quote by Gladys Taber.

  9. I so much enjoyed your post. It took me right back to the early 1990's when a friend and I took a road trip from California to British Columbia and of course Butchart Gardens was a must see. I am so happy I had that experience because when I read someone else describe their enjoyment it takes me right back there to relive the delightful memories . And, in the late 1990's good fortune showered me with the joy of visiting the famous gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny, France . Fabulous and so educational. And, after moving in 1993 to my little country house in the mountains of California I had the pleasure of attending a lecture offered by the local garden club featuring an Author - Registered Horticulturist - Photographer, named Elizabeth Murray who was the first American woman allowed to participate in the restoration of Monet's gardens. She worked there in 1984 for nine months and returned there for 10 years to photograph. Her lecture/book signing was delightful and her book is outstanding especially for someone who has visited the Gardens. I cherish my memories and experiences of learning about these fantastic and interesting gardens. Thank you for taking me back to these memories of days past. If my memory serves me, I believe you recently visited Monet Gardens.

  10. I think you wander around the garden was the perfect tonic. What a wonderful story about the founders of the garden. Have a lovely week. B x

  11. If I was ever to be in your area then one of the first places that I would make a bee line for would be Butchart Gardens. What a lovely and also fortuitous story about Jennie and Robert missing their trip back home on the Titanic.

  12. What a delight to wander the garden through your eyes. Beautiful and the uplifting story about missing the Titanic was a delight.

  13. How lovely that the garden is open. I too remember being in the garden and thinking about her fantastic vision! Such a wonder how life works. I bet Mrs. Butchart was glad to have missed that boat. Thank you for the peaceful images.

  14. Dear Lorrie,
    Thank you for sharing your visit to Butchart Gardens. "Above all, I must have flowers" has always been my plan. I will grow vegetables but they do not come close to the joy I receive from growing flowers or visiting places where beautiful flowers grow. I vividly remember our visit to Butchart Gardens many years ago.

  15. I caught my breath when I read the Butchart family story! How many people must have been blessed because of that one decision. What a place of loveliness. I'm glad you chose to spend time there once again and share your lovely photos. They're all beautiful but that last one makes me want to walk along those rocks by the cool waters.

  16. My favorite garden - have visited just twice and envy you being so close - I would be there so often with you if we were
    neighbors Lorrie!!!
    Glad you were able to take a beautiful break - you earned it.

  17. What a beautiful garden and the story of the original owners missing their trip on Titanic!
    Sarah x

  18. I enjoyed hearing the inspiring story behind the creation of Butchart Gardens. There is so much beauty there . . . certainly a lovely place to have a "reset."

  19. To have a place like this at 15 minutes' drive...
    Thank you for the most uplifting post. Stay safe and well!

  20. What a beautiful place to walk.
    Lovely post.

    All the best Jan

  21. A walk in this garden would for sure alleviate anxiety. How absolutely gorgeous. I had never heard the story about missing the Titanic. Amazing!


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