Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Visit to the Most Beautiful Garden in the World

Butchart Gardens 2015

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I take very few vacations, but when I do, it is to see another garden. This year my husband and I went yet again to visit Butchart Gardens on beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  The gardens receive close to a million visitors each year. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to their international renown.

In 1907, 65 year old garden designer Isaburo Kishida of Yokohama came to Victoria, at the request of his son, to build a tea garden for Esquimalt Gorge Park. This garden was wildly popular and a place to be seen. Several prominent citizens, Jennie Butchart among them, commissioned Japanese gardens from Kishida for their estates. He returned to Japan in 1912.

In 1909, when the limestone quarry was exhausted, Jennie set about turning it into the Sunken Garden, which was completed in 1921. They named their home "Benvenuto" ("welcome" in Italian), and began to receive visitors to their gardens. In 1926, they replaced their tennis courts with an Italian garden and in 1929 they replaced their kitchen vegetable garden with a large rose garden to the design of Butler Sturtevant of Seattle. Samuel Maclure, who was consultant to the Butchart Gardens, reflected the aesthetic of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

In 1939, the Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross (1918–1997) on his 21st birthday. Ross was involved in the operation and promotion of the gardens until his death 58 years later. When Robert died in 1997, a son, Christopher, took over, expanding the gardens and its staff to 240.

It was Christopher who began the weekly fireworks shows in summer when most of the tourists show up, choreographing lights and music in a Disney-esque display. Christopher died in 2000, and since then the shows have ended with flickering firelights spelling a salute to him: "Good night, Christy."

Christopher's sister Robin-Lee Clarke, presently carrying on the Butchart tradition at the gardens. Barnabas Butchart Clarke, 34, the only child of Robin-Lee and David Clarke, and great-great-grandson of the founders, represents the youngest generation in the Butchart tradition of family management. He lives in Victoria and produces dance shows.

This was our third trip and I dare say not our last.  It is truly spectacular. I have a few pictures posted here for you to armchair travel a bit. Just sit back with a cuppa tea and enjoy.

The Views 


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The Tourist 


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The Roses 

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The Water Features 

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The Containers

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The Hanging Baskets

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The Tuberous Begonias

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The Flowers

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#hashtags# gardens# flowers# beautiful plants# roses# trees# Vancouver Island# famous gardens# hanging baskets# containers# lush gardens#