During our summer stay here in Victoria BC we have had a great time and enjoyed much the city has to offer. Several times we have headed to the Inner Harbor to take in the many attractions, food and the general festive atmosphere. One Victoria attraction that is supposed to be a “can’t miss” is the world famous Butchart Gardens. It’s kind of funny having spent most of my life living in Victoria BC I have never spent any time visiting Butchart Gardens. It seems many people never visit tourist attractions where they live. Well when Anne bought me a new Sony NEX5 camera for my recent birthday I now had a great excuse to finally visit.
The Butchart Gardens is a group of floral display gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada, located near Victoria on Vancouver Island. The gardens receive more than a million visitors each year. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to their international renown. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butchart_Gardens
We visited the gardens on a perfect fall day in early October blessed with short-sleeve shirt sunny weather. It was mid-week so the crowds were thin and mostly consisted of international visitors from all over the world. I bet I could pick out a dozen or more different languages being spoken. My first impression is how well laid out and organized the place is. They have plenty of parking and each row is marked by an animal. We were in the seahorse lane. If you are bringing your large RV, no problem, they have a huge lot for RVs and buses. The informational signage is very good and nicely posted. You quickly realize this is a first class operation.
The Sunken Garden
Anne had visited many times before and recommended that we head first to the Sunken Garden area. It’s the area that once was a lime stone quarry and where the Butchart Gardens were started. You walk up a short trail and come upon an amazing scene, everywhere you look are beautiful gardens and flowering plants filling the scene with color. We spent at least an hour and a half wandering the Sunken Garden exploring the many nooks and crannies and discovering interesting plant after interesting plant. Thankfully they provide you with a Flower and Plant guide pamphlet as many were unrecognizable to me.
Two features I really liked in the Sunken Garden were the Ross Fountain and about a 50 foot rock mound that had been left in the center. There is a cool spiral staircase up to a 360 degree viewing platform on the mound which gives you a great perspective of the whole area. The Ross Fountain is situated in a small lake and embedded in the natural surroundings of the coastal forest. There is a viewpoint where you can watch the fountain as it changes its spray patterns.
Dahlias, Dahlias, Dahlias
Next we headed up to an area where much of the summer entertainment is held. They have fireworks on Saturday evenings and musical concerts throughout the busy summer season. Here we also discovered a really cool old Carousel and a couple large totem poles. But the big highlight of this particular area of the gardens for me was the Dahlias! Wow, what a show, so many colors and so many! Some were as big as your head.
Video Clip – Visiting Butchart Gardens
After thoroughly enjoying the Dahlias I recomposed myself and we sauntered over and down into the Japanese Gardens. This area is much more shaded and loaded with water features. The scene is very tranquil and relaxing. Everywhere you see different shades of green with bursts of color here and there. I loved the stone paths and the many little waterfalls, bridges and streams. It winds its way down to the ocean and the boat docks where you can get a glimpse out into Brentwood Bay. My new Sony NEX5R camera came with a neat built in app that allows you to take a B+W photo but expose one color. I played around with it in the Japanese Gardens and got a few interesting shots.
We finished our tour visiting the Star Pond and Italian Gardens. Unfortunately the Rose Garden was not in bloom but Anne tells me it is spectacular when it is. All the buildings on the grounds are in perfect condition and enhance the experience. Many of the windows are decked out with flower baskets and inside are several restaurants and cafes to enjoy. I have to say “two thumbs up” to visiting Butchart gardens. We had an awesome afternoon!
RVing Related Information
If you’re planning a visit to Victoria you can’t go wrong staying at Oceanside RV Resort. We spent the whole summer here and I highly recommend it as a base to visit the area from. Butchart Gardens is a 10-15 minute drive away and the Victoria Downtown is maybe 30 minutes away. The town of Sidney and ferries to Vancouver and Anacortes, Washington are only a few miles to the north. If you get the chance wander around the cute little seaside town of Sidney BC and check out the many waterfront restaurants, great seafood! They have very nice walking paths along the ocean. Maybe you’ll see a whale!
Photo Gallery – Visiting Butchart Gardens