AAA Editor Notes
Butchart Gardens is 2 km (1.2 mi.) s. on W. Saanich Rd., then w. to 800 Benvenuto Ave. The magnificent floral displays of Butchart Gardens owe their existence to Jennie Butchart, wife of Robert Pim Butchart, a successful Portland cement pioneer.
When the limestone quarry near their home became depleted in the early 1900s, Jennie lined the empty pit with topsoil and the gardens began to take shape. The Sunken Garden, the site of the former quarry, was soon joined on the 22-hectare (55-acre) site with the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and Italian Garden as well as the Star Pond and Ross Fountain. The Butcharts named their estate Benvenuto, Italian for “welcome.”
The spring season brings azaleas, tulips, daffodils and other delicate blossoms. Breathtaking roses, annuals and perennials bloom in summer, while bursts of colorful foliage appear in autumn; subtle colored lighting illuminates the gardens June 15 through Sept. 15.
Two electrically operated boats offer 45-minute tours of the local coastline, including the location of the now-gone factory that produced cement from the limestone quarried in what is now the Sunken Garden. The cruise along Tod Inlet and Brentwood Bay often provides sightings of seals, herons, eagles and otters. The Rose Carousel in the Children's Pavilion offers old-fashioned rides on 30 hand-carved animals and two chariots.
July through August, nightly entertainment is offered with fireworks displays Saturday nights. The sparkle of holiday lights and decorations complement the colorful berries on shrubs and trees from Dec. 1 to Jan. 6 during Christmas at Butcharts. An outdoor skating rink, with skate rental, also is available in Waterwheel Square.
Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.