Butchart Gardens is a wonderful display of floral gardens located near Victoria, British Columbia. It is well known around the world for its year round beauty.
Butchart is visited by about a million people every year. People come from Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and of course the United States to visit the gardens. Jennie Butchart began this magnificent place back in 1904. Perhaps the most breathtaking scenery is the sunken gardens, pictured here.
Butchart gardens changes seasonally and has a Christmas lighting display from early December to early January. The gardens are open all year. They also have fireworks in the summer time on Saturday and night illuminations from end of June until September.
Butchart is open late every night in July and August. Many people come early enough to see them in the daytime, and then walk around the area once it gets dark. It's really beautiful at night, and the flowers smell more fragrant at that time. It doesn't get dark until about 10:30 at the end of June. Of course days get progressively shorter after that.
I live in the Victoria area and like to go on a weekday. There is free entertainment every evening from the beginning of July to the Labor Day weekend. Then it's nice to see the night illuminations. Of course, it isn't nearly as crowded during the week as it is on weekends, which is why I generally when it will be less crowded.
Butchart Gardens is about a thirty minute drive from downtown Victoria, located on Vancouver Island. It's a regular stop for tour buses. Cruise ships arrive early in the morning in Victoria and day trips to the gardens are a popular excursion.
Spring Time at Butchart Gardens
Images of Butchart in the spring. It really is this beautiful!
When to Visit Butchart Gardens
The gardens are worth seeing any time of year. However, I believe there is something extra special about visiting Butchart Gardens in the spring time. The Victoria area is particularly beautiful from March to late May.
The gardens feature rows of colorful tulips, daffodills and other spring flowers. Many of the trees have lovely blossoms. You can see rhododendrons, magnolia, dogwood and chestnut trees in bloom. The earliest blossoms appear in February, with the peak usually in late March or early April.
The rose garden is wonderful from late spring until well into fall. Each rose is labeled with a special name. There are archways leading into and out of this particular area, and they are surrounded by roses in the summer time.
Butchart also has a Japanese garden, which is very peaceful and tranquil. If you walk to the edge of the Japanese gardens you can will see a cove with views of Brentwood Bay. Boats take people on tours of the bay each day in the spring and summer. There is an extra cost for this, but it is worth it as the area is very scenic.
The final stop is at the Italian garden, which is pictured here. There are guest books here for visitors to sign. It's fun to look at the books and see comments from people all over the world.
Butchart Gardens has a lovely dining room, as well as a cafeteria style restaurant. There also is a coffee shop that serves light meals such as sandwiches and salads and sweets. The gift shop features a nice selection of items including clothing and jewelry.
It takes about 45 minutes to arrive at the Butchart entrance from downtown Victoria. BC transit also has bus service, although it is fairly limited. Tour buses go to the gardens and leave from The Empress Hotel, located at the Inner Harbour downtown.
History of Butchart Gardens
Butchart Garden's history goes back over 100 years. Robert Butchart and his wife Jennie were attracted to Vancouver Island because of the rich limestone deposits which were needed for cement production. They had their home near his quarry at the Saanich Peninsula early in the 20th century.
In 1906, Jennie started a Japanese garden just steps away from their home with the help of a Japanese designer. In 1909, when the quarry was exhausted, Jennie decided to turn it into a sunken garden. This breathtaking sight was completed in 1921.
They named their home "Benvenuto" (which means "welcome" in Italian), and began inviting people to view their masterpiece.. In 1926, they replaced their tennis courts with an Italian garden and in 1929 they added an area with beautiful roses.. In 1939, the Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross on his 21st birthday. He remained involved in the operation and promoting it until his death 58 years later.
In 1953, miles of underground wiring was put down to provide night illumination. In 1964, Ross Fountain was added as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations. This fountain changes colors at night and is very beautiful to see. It is pictured here.
In 2004, two 30-foot totem poles were installed to mark the 100th anniversary, and Butchart was designated a national historic site. The gardens added a carousel in 2009.
The main dining room is in the original Butchart home. It's well known for afternoon teas, and is open for dinner during the summer months. Prices are a big high, but the food is delicious.
Ownership continues within the Butchart family; the owner and managing director today is the great granddaughter of Mr and Mrs Butchart.
As you tour the site, there are pictures in the various areas that show you what it looked like before Jennie began her masterpiece. It's really quite amazing to see what Jennie Butchart and others have created, particularly with the Sunken Gardens.
Map of the area
Tips for Visiting the Gardens
One question people frequently ask is how much time they need to see all that Butchart has to offer. You can see everything in a couple of hours, but almost everyone wants to stay for much longer than that.
If you want to come on a Saturday during the summer when it is fireworks night, you will need to get there extra early. Since the fireworks are very popular and it takes awhile just to get to the gate you should plan to be there at least by 3 PM. If you just want to see the gardens during the day, and aren't interested in eating there or spending time in the gift shop and gallery then you can see what you want in a few hours.
If you would like to enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner, you should bring a blanket and perhaps lawn chairs. There are only a few picnic tables. Small dogs are welcome but should be on a leash. Of course you should clean up after your pet too.
Scooters are available for people who cannot walk long distances. Butchart also provides umbrellas.
Summers are very dry in the Victoria area. It is not unusual to have no rain at all in July and August. The climate is very moderate. It seldom gets very hot or cold. Even on a warm summer day you should bring a jacket if you plan to stay late. It gets chilly at night.
Of course, you will want to have your camera with you. If you should need batteries, they are available at the gift shop. Butchart Gardens is a photographer's dream.
I hope I have given you some idea as to how lovely the gardens are. If you plan to visit Victoria, a stop here is a must.