Thursday, September 25, 2008

Singing in the Rain at Butchart Gardens

It may have been raining while we toured Butchart (Boo-shart say the locals) on the Island of Victoria, BC - but that didn’t dampen any garden spirits. After traveling so far to see a garden that people say should be visited at least once in a lifetime, no way was I going to be a whiner (except maybe at lunch).

Umbrella in one hand and camera in the other my husband and I trudged along the designated pathways to see one incredible vista after another round every bend. This garden is so beautiful my husband who is not a gardener had planned to park himself in the first coffee shop he came to while I trekked the acres of multi-themed landscapes, but he re-thought the plan after seeing the beauty of an old lime-stone quarry turned gardens.

He was so impressed he trudged along with me pointing out good shots and reminding me he was a better photographer; it was then I knew he was enjoying himself.

Around 11am, soaked and shivering we decided to go into the Tea Room for some lunch. Good for us we were 15 minutes early so we cozied-up to the fireplace where someone thoughtful had turned the gas flames on.

Soon we were seated at a little table that looked over the private garden of the late Mrs. Butchart. She was the visionary for the garden all those years ago. I wonder if she envisioned so many people from every corner of the earth enjoying lunch in her house and chattering about what they had seen so far in the gardens.

Our waitress brought us a pot of hot, black tea to help us thaw out while we studied the menu. When I asked if the salmon was fresh and local, she told me that one of guys at the restaurant fishes on the side and sells it to the chef. Well okay, made that choice easy. Hubby had the gazpacho made from local veggies. He ordered me a glass of local red wine, was I being intense?

Throughout the rest of the afternoon we oohed and aahed and conversed with other visitors; usually while untangling umbrellas on the narrow trails (a real ice-breaker). Most obliged our lack of language capabilities and spoke in English, although when it comes to the botanical world we all understand the universal language of plants…hooray for Latin!

I also chatted with the many gardeners I met along the way working in the gardens. As a gardener, the work end is always of interest. I learned there are 50, yes, 50 gardeners who are assigned various areas or specific jobs throughout the property. Turf, disease, arborist, hardscape, greenhouse, irrigation, annuals, perennials, shrub and trees are just a few of the departments. With a million guests a year, the gardens need to be in perfect shape at all times.

At days end on the bus trip back to downtown Victoria, hubby asked what I came away with: color combinations, design ideas, new plants to ponder. I thought for a second and said, “I need a gardener!”


Jen said...

Cindy, It was a real pleasure to read your Northwest garden trip blog -- it is such a gorgeous place with both obvious differences and amazing similarities to our Southern gardens. I told you that when I first viewed the lime quarry at Butchart Gardens, I thought: ths is how I imagine Heaven ... (It was a sunny July day!) Hope to see you soon in Asheville? Jen

Cindy Shapton said...

Hey Jen, glad you enjoyed the walk down memory lane!

Our plan is to be in Asheville for a wedding -see ya'll then