The Butchart Gardens
800 Benvenuto Avenue, Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1J8 map
The Butchart Gardens offer 22 ha (55 acres) of wonderful floral display located in Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island. Open every day of the year.
Robert Pim Butchart, a pioneer in the thriving North American cement industry, was attracted from Owen Sound, Ontario to Canada’s West Coast by rich limestone deposits. In 1904, he developed a quarry and built a cement plant at Tod Inlet (on Vancouver Island) to satisfy Portland cement demand from San Francisco to Victoria. Jennie Butchart became the company’s chemist. Close to the quarry, the Butcharts established the family home complete with sweet peas and rose bushes.
As Mr. Butchart exhausted limestone deposits, his enterprising wife Jennie, made plans to create something of beauty in the gigantic exhausted pit. From farmland nearby, she had tonnes of top soil brought in by horse and cart and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, the quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.
Between 1906 and 1929, the Butcharts created a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court and a beautiful Rose Garden. Mr. Butchart took great pride in his wife's remarkable work. An enthusiastic hobbyist, he collected ornamental birds from all over the world. He kept ducks in the Star Pond, noisy peacocks on the front lawn and many elaborate birdhouses throughout The Butchart Gardens.
The only surviving portion of the original cement factory is the tall chimney of a long vanished kiln still seen from the Sunken Garden lookout. The plant stopped manufacturing cement in 1916, but continued to make drain tiles and flower pots until 1950. Some of the original flowering cherry trees which extended from West Saanich Road to The Butchart Gardens’ entrance may still be seen.
The renown of the family owned gardens is widespread. Each year over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties give you uninterrupted bloom from March through October. Almost a million people visit annually for spring’s colourful flowering bulbs; summer’s riot of colour, entertainment and Saturday Fireworks; fall’s russets and golds; the Magic of Christmas’ decorations; and winter’s peacefulness.