Butchart Gardens – Review

September 2022

This is an attraction that everyone can enjoy, and while not a cheap attraction it will certainly be a day that you will remember for decades. So let’s start with a little history of Butchart Gardens, it is located in a former quarry. Coming from Ontario, in 1904 husband and wife, Robert and Jennie Butchart moved to Vancouver Island to build a cement plant on a rich limestone deposit at Tod Inlet. By 1912 as cement production exhausted the limestone deposits, Jennie envisioned a grand garden in its place and began transferring top soil by horse and cart. Little by little, the quarry blossomed into today’s Sunken Garden.

Photo from the Butchart Gardens blog.

Between 1906 and 1929, the Butchart’s expanded The Gardens, designing the Japanese Garden on the seaside, the Italian Garden on their former tennis court and the fragrant, overflowing Rose Garden.

Gifted The Gardens on his 21st birthday (1939), grandson Ian Ross transformed them into the world-renowned attraction we know today, adding outdoor concerts and night lighting in the summers, and the Magic of Christmas in the winters.

Beginning in 1977, great-grandson Christopher began producing a choreographed firework show every year. In 2009, his sister, and current owner of The Gardens, Robin added the Children’s Pavilion and Menagerie Carousel.

Two Totem Poles were carved in Classic Coast Salish style by Master Carvers Charles Elliot of the Tsartlip Nation and Doug La Fortune of Tsawout Band, and dedicated on September 9th, 2004 not only to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Butchart Gardens but also in recognition of the rich cultural heritage provided by Indigenous People.

Today, The Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada. You’ll find remnants of the original cement plant and millions of bedding plants in over 900 varieties awaiting you as you wander The Gardens.

Now let’s look at the numbers, these tell a story in themselves.

Size of garden: total area of garden 135 acres, 55 acres is available for viewing.

Numbers: over a million visitors per year, 600 on staff during peak season, 290 during off peak, 50 full-time gardeners, 20 seasonal gardeners, with 26 greenhouses.

Admissions: Adult peak season $38 to as low as $25 off peak with children rates varying from $19 to $12.50 and under 12 are $2, parking is included in the price of admission.

In my opinion this is a must see if you have ventured to Vancouver Island, and you could spend the majority of a day there, with lunch options available on site, there are a number of stairs throughout the gardens but most areas also are accessible with chair ramps, it may add some distance, but there are still a few inaccessible areas.

With the exception of the antique photo of the gardens, the balance of the photos are from Miss Laurie’s collection, taken today.

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