|The quiet peacefulness of an evening visit.|
No trip to Victoria BC is complete without visiting the world-famous Butchart Gardens, located 14 miles north of Victoria’s Inner Harbor and 30 minutes to get there traveling by car.
I had read that the enormous crowds from tour buses and cruise ships can be difficult to deal with, but our timing couldn't have been more perfect because there weren’t any crowds to speak of when we were there!
|Original Butchart family residence.|
We arrived at the gardens mid-afternoon, spent a couple of hours touring the grounds, then had dinner at the Dining Room Restaurant located in the original Butchart family residence. Very good food, excellent service, and totally cool ambience.
And since the sun didn't set until about 10 pm, we had plenty of time to go back out to continue our tour of the gardens and walk off some of the calories we consumed at dinner.
|Sunken Garden stairway leads to a 360 degree view of the garden.|
The history of the gardens date back to 1904 when Robert Butchart, a cement manufacturer, bought some farm land on Tod Inlet at the base of Saanich Peninsula, developed a limestone quarry and built the Vancouver Island Portland Cement Company.
While Robert was busy with his cement company, his wife Jennie was occupied with her gardening projects.
|Ross Fountain was named after the Butchart's grandson Ian Ross.|
The limestone deposits were mined out after five years and what remained was a gigantic ugly pit near the Butchart residence. It was only natural for Jennie to have a vision of turning this eyesore into a beautiful garden.
But there was an enormous amount of work to be done. All of the abandoned tools, equipment and machinery were removed. Water that had accumulated in the quarry was drained into a catchment basin creating the lake where Ross Fountain is located.
The rubble in the pit was pushed into tall mounds to be used for flower and shrub terraces, and tons and tons of top soil from surrounding farms were brought in to line the floor of the quarry.
The project wasn't completed until 1921. And the quarry blossomed into the Sunken Gardens.
|Night illumination of the Sunken Gardens.|
Today, Butchart consists of five colorful, inviting and perfectly manicured gardens … Sunken, Japanese, Rose, Italian and Mediterranean.
You don't have to know about flowers or plant species to appreciate the transformation of a mined-out limestone pit into a spectacular world-class garden.