Have you ever been to the world famous Butchart Gardens on Canada’s Vancouver Island? It’s one of the largest and most beautiful botanical gardens in the world.
Our garden master Jim Duthie took a trip there a few weeks ago, and today he takes us on a tour of the gardens, and shows us some of the beautiful plants and flowers growing there, that you can grow here in your own backyard.
For more than 100 years, these gardens have attracted folks from all over the world. And even though most of the plants and trees and shrubs that are growing here are well suited for this Pacific Maritime climate, many of them will do very well in our own backyards in Idaho. So let’s take a tour and see what we can find.
The Butchart Gardens covers more than 22 acres of the Butchart family estate. It all began in 1904, when Robert Butchart, a pioneer in the early days of cement production, came to Vancouver Island to develop a limestone quarry for his cement business. By 1906, the quarry was abandoned, and Butchart’s wife, Jennie had an idea to make something beautiful out of the empty pit.
From nearby farmland, she had tons of topsoil brought in by horse and cart to line the bottom of the old quarry.
Little by little, it blossomed into what is now the sunken gardens, one of the main attractions at Butchart Gardens.
During the next 25 years, the Butcharts expanded the gardens around their home, creating a beautiful Japanese garden bordering Tod Inlet.
They turned their tennis court into an Italian garden, complete with statues and ponds.
Several statues and fountains dot the gardens, creating whimsical eye-catching and interesting displays, including the snail fountain, the sturgeon fountain, and this beautiful Chinese dragon fountain.
The twelve-pointed star pond was originally designed for Robert Butchart’s collection of ornamental ducks.
Nearby is an expansive rose garden, displaying more than 6,000 rose bushes, each individually marked by name and origin. Stroll beneath the arbor-covered walkway, and take in the beautiful colors, textures and scents of the most popular flower in the world.
A stroll down another path brings us past the bronze statue of Tacca, the boar. Over the years, thousands of visitors have affectionately rubbed Tacca for good luck, resulting in his shiny snout.
From here you enter the Mediterranean garden, containing a rich assortment of exotic plants from around the world. This part of Vancouver Island enjoys a very mild climate, with warm, dry summers, and relatively mild, wet winters with very little snowfall.
In the show greenhouse, seasonal displays of hundreds of plants will give you all kinds of ideas of what you might want to include in your own garden at home.
Head over to the seed and gift store where you can actually buy seeds and bulbs to grow the same plants that you’ve enjoyed seeing in the gardens.
Finally, here are a few of my favorite plants at Butchart Gardens, that, with a little attention, should grow well in my own yard at home.
Begonias make a showy and colorful addition to your garden, in the landscape or in containers, especially tuberous begonias, which have larger blooms and more colors. Trailing begonias make spectacular displays in hanging pots.
Astilbe’s feathery flowers are a great accent in the landscape, especially along a walkway or bordering a green lawn.
Delphinium, also known as larkspur, is an elegant addition to the flower garden, with their tall spikes of vibrant colors.
Fuschias provide an exotic touch, especially in hanging baskets, with a profusion of flowers in reds, pinks and purples.
Matthiola, commonly known as stock, makes a beautiful mass display along borders and paths. They have a rich scent and are great for cut flower arrangements.
Finally, lilies are attention-grabbers. Plant the bulbs in the ground or in containers, and you’ll have a splash of color from spring until frost. Lilies are perennial, so they’ll come back from year to year, multiplying their numbers.
I hope you enjoyed our little tour of Butchart Gardens on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. There are so many things to see here, and with a little bit of imagination and creativity, you might be able to make a little Butchart Garden of your own in your backyard.
Butchart Gardens is located about ten miles north of Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island, and is open year-round. If you’re thinking about making a trip there, you will need a passport, of course. For more information, check their website.
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