Posted on: July 12, 2016 | Written By: Doug Oster |
There are places you hear about for your whole life, you dream about seeing them, fantasize about them and anxiously anticipate what they will offer only to be disappointed when they don’t live up to the hype. Butchart Gardens will never fall into that category as it belongs on every gardeners bucket list.
The soft fragrance of vanilla from dark purple heliotrope greet us as we walk through the gates of the historic garden.
As my group of gardeners slowly work their way along a path on the way to enjoy a private breakfast at the garden we are overjoyed by the massive beds filled with fascinating combinations of annuals. Hanging baskets are a cornucopia of color and even the trash containers act as planters.
I was as polite as I could be at the breakfast, my table overlooked the Italian Garden and my leg nervously twitched while wolfing down eggs Benedict. All I could think about was getting out into the garden.
My plan was to walk all the way to the back the Japanese Garden, then head towards the front gate exploring all the other gardens on the way. I figured it would be less crowded back there and I could get a good feel of how long to spend in each area. We had three hours until the bus left.
Four of us headed that way and what a great choice it was, as the garden was almost empty. A carpet of pretty green moss covered the ground, the trees the stone lanterns and just about everything else. The gurgling sound of a waterfall helped set the tone, the perfect calming vibe. Stone bridges, dry creeks, huge variegated dogwoods and hidden seating areas all added to the experience.
The rose garden is a rainbow of colors and the flowers release their heady fragrances which hung in the air, each one a little different, but all were magnificent. The plant markers with names and date of introduction made walking through the garden a nostalgic history lesson. ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ grew across the path from ‘Miranda Lambert’ and the classic deep red ‘Chrysler Imperial’ roses were as beautiful today as they were when released in 1952.
Each turn offers new surprises that made us smile and sometime gasp in awe. Unknown plants, variegated hydrangeas, innovative combinations and so much more. You can’t call it sensory overload, sensory fulfillment is more accurate as there’s a beautiful feeling that overcomes you as this garden unfolds. It’s hard to explain, but a day in Butchart Gardens can fill up the little empty holes inside of a person with an afterglow that persist for hours, days, weeks or maybe longer, we’ll see.
I saved the best for last, exploring the landmark Sunken Garden which is a unique treasure. Although I’ve seen the iconic photo of the garden from above for decades, standing there overlooking that site was awesome. After descending a long set of stairs there were a couple deer in panic mode above, maybe they couldn’t find their way to freedom and they ran from left to right through the forest until they bolted right in front of some visitors to the other side of the garden. When I asked one of the affable staff what they do about the deer in such a wondrous garden she responded with a laugh, “we chase them away the best we can just like we do on the country lane that I live on.”
The gardeners are part of the show as they blend in to the plantings the way the scarecrow does in the Wizard of Oz. As they work, they are happy to discuss the plants, what they do and how they do it. It’s that welcoming attitude that also makes this place something special.
A soft shower began as we loaded on to the bus, perfect timing I thought. As the rain came down harder all I could think about was three hours of bliss in place I’ll never forget.