With a former quarry as a canvas, Jennie Butchart envisioned transforming the space into a beautiful garden haven, overflowing with lush greens and colourful blooms. Sounds reasonable. The result of her vision is The Gardens, which are still family run to this day. And I can confirm that they are indeed lush and beautiful!
Located at 800 Benvenuto Avenue in Brentwood Bay, this tourist destination is well worth the drive. It’s a bit of a jaunt from Victoria but doable for a day trip.
It all started in 1904 when husband and wife, Robert and Jennie Butchart, moved to Vancouver Island from Ontario to build a cement plant on a rich limestone deposit at Tod Inlet. By 1912 the cement production had exhausted the limestone deposits, so Jennie envisioned a grand garden in its place. And the rest, as they say, is gardening history!
Butchart Gardens is made up of 55 acres of gardens with some 900 bedding plant varieties and 26 greenhouses. It takes up to 50 full-time gardeners to keep everything weeded and looking presentable. If you plan to visit, I dare you to try to take a bad picture! It can’t be done.
When looked at from a bird’s eye view, one can see how spread out the gardens are. I found it a bit hard to make my way around, getting lost more than once, wondering which route I was supposed to take to get to the next viewing area. But that wasn’t a trial as there was always something good to look at no matter where you found yourself!
The first area to be completed was the old quarry itself, which became the Sunken Gardens. You have to walk down some stairs to get to it, but the exercise is worth it, which I believe the video above proves nicely!
But what would a post on one of the most renowned gardens in the world be without some pictures of flowers? So, enjoy:
Nice little touches can be found in every nook and cranny of the site, like this wonderful Water Wheel feature that is near the front entrance, by the Gift Shop:
As mentioned, there is the obligatory Gift Shop, but it is quite expansive and interesting in its own right. You can also get some basic snacks and drinks.
Due to the pandemic, some features of the Gardens aren’t functioning, like the old London Bus tour and the boat tour. Hopefully these will return soon.
Admission prices fluctuate depending on the season. Expect to pay between $24.00 – $36.00 CAN for adults (18+), between $12.00 – $18.00 CAN for youths (13-17), and $2.00 or $3.00 CAN for children (5-12). Hours of operation are roughly between 9am and 4pm.
As far as attractions go, you won’t find a better one! I would give Butchart Gardens a solid 5 Out of 5 Stars all day long.
You can visit the Official Website here, and check out my other post on this attraction, where I give my review of the job the Imagineers of Disney did with the Canadian Pavilion at EPCOT, which contains an homage to, you guessed it: Butchart Gardens!
FOOTNOTE: To make the trip to Butchart Gardens even more eventful, you may want to add a visit to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens found at Benvenuto Avenue, so on the same street. You can’t miss it! It also has an Insectarium. Yup. One of those. And thousands of tropical butterflies (up to 70 species) fly through the large facility as they share the space with poison dart frogs, tortoises, large iguanas, flamingos, tropical ducks, free flying tropical birds and more.
Your jungle adventure awaits! However, at $17.00 CAN per adult, you may want to wait until a butterfly finds your own garden at home. If you’re interested, I’d only give this attraction a 3.5 Out of 5 Stars due to the limited offerings available. Worth doing once, but perhaps not again.