The Butchart Gardens – Vancouver Island, BC Canada
The Butchart Gardens is one of the highlights of visiting Vancouver Island. It is a National Historic Site of Canada and is one of the best gardens in the world. The Butchart Gardens is over 100 years old originating in 1904 by the Butchart family and it is still privately owned and operated by the family. The gardens span over 55 acres and contain 900 bedding plant varieties, 26 greenhouses, and 50 full time gardens keeping everything beautiful. Other than hearing it is a must do, we knew very little about the experience. To ensure a quicker entry, I purchased the tickets online at $38 CAD per ticket. We were given a map and a flower guide – fully empowered with all the information we would need to enjoy the Butchart Gardens.
There are many different gardens to explore so we wanted to be methodical since there was so much to see. The walkways leading around the area were covered in flowers! I knew we were going to be in trouble as Kevin examined each flower to try and find the name in our guide book.
We followed signs to the Sunken Garden and as we followed the path, we noted signs that warned of a “high congestion area” – for what? And then we saw it – we stood atop an overlook with the garden oasis below.
Blown away, we took our photos from the top since we could only imagine how crowded it gets here. PRO TIP: There is a cottage up to the right when you are at the top of the Sunken Garden – there is no one in there and you can get the perfect photo of the Sunken Garden without the people. We made our way down and around to explore the garden. There were several features of the Sunken Garden, including a look out mound in the middle of the area and an enormous water fountain (Ross Fountain).
On our way to the next garden, we could not get over how many flowers simply lined the walkways and how beautiful they are were! I feel like I spent more time examining these flowers than at major parts of the gardens.
The Rose Garden was next up and it was definitely more crowded. The Rose Garden was also the only garden that identified the flower by name so we had fun finding the most ridiculously named rose – many of which were named after celebrities and whatnot. The roses were a tad past the peak so I can only imagine what this looked like in the prime rose season (June to August)!
The Japanese Garden was large and contained many of the traditional features of a Japanese Garden including bridges and streams, bamboo, benches and other wood crafted elements, zen garden rock beds, and more. The entire area was dense with greenery and quite transportive.
Exiting the Japanese Garden led to the Star Pond surrounded by flower beds. In reading the history, this pond housed Mr Butchart’s collection of ducks.
The final garden in this area is the Italian Garden which staged an Italian courtyard complete with balcony arrangements, flower beds, and a pond in the middle. These flower arrangements were all so colorful, elaborate, and intricate. It was so crowded when we got here but after waiting several minutes, the flow of people left and there was a long enough gap that were we able to take some lovely photos.
There is one final garden by the parking lot that we left for last – The Mediterranean Garden featuring plants from all over the world including large bushes, tropical trees, and flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Wow, we were blown away by Butchart Gardens! By 11AM, we hit everything in the gardens minus the high tea (which ironically we probably had time for!). High tea is a tradition dating back to the opening of the gardens and is very popular – make sure to snag reservations if you want to experience it. We move pretty fast so I would say expect to spend somewhere between 2 -3 hours depending on the crowds and your interest level. Being a novice photographer, I can only image what a dream photographing this location is! Since we finished earlier than the predicted 4 hours to see everything, we had more time to explore our next stop – Victoria!