Last summer when my aunt visited us, we took the opportunity to explore the Butchart Gardens with her. My husband had been there years ago with his parents, and my aunt years before that with her parents, but the girls and I had never been. The Butchart Gardens are probably Victoria’s best-known tourist destination and I had heard a lot about them, so I was very excited to visit. I wasn’t disappointed.
Getting to Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens is located on the peninsula near Sidney, BC, about a half an hour drive from downtown Victoria. However, we had a problem with getting there. Our family of four fit perfectly into our four-seater Jeep TJ. How were we to get my aunt there? We played with various ideas of having my husband stay home or ride the bus out there to meet us. Finally, he came up with a brilliant and creative plan.
We caught a bus from the unversity to downtown Victoria. There, we got on a whale watching tour and took a scenic boat ride from downtown around the coast to the Butchart Gardens. At the Gardens, we climbed a narrow set of stairs up to explore. When we were done wandering through the gardens, we got on the shuttle bus from the parking lot back to downtown Victoria, where we caught a city bus back to the university.
Exploring the Gardens
As soon as we stepped into the gardens, we were immersed in colour—gorgeous plants everywhere and many trails for the girls to run down. My husband soon figured out where we wanted to explore first so we saw everything we wanted to see in the few hours we had there.
My favourite part of the gardens was the Sunken Garden (above). This used to be a rock quarry, but when the limestone had all been hauled out of it, Jennie Butchart turned it into a garden. She hauled in tons of topsoil and apparently used a swing-type seat to plant flowers on the cliffs around the gardens. It was amazing to stroll through the lush flowers and plants of the garden and to imagine it was once a hole full of rocks.
We also toured the rose gardens, which are absolutely splendid. I had no idea there were so many different types of roses. It was fun to see all the different names for all the roses, like “rainbow sorbet.” It looked pretty enough to taste! Many of them also smelled amazing.
We also let the girls ride on the classic carousel. The horses are just as beautiful as the flowers in the garden. The girls loved riding the carousel.
We easily spent two hours wandering around the Butchart Gardens. I could have stayed for longer (so that was the downside of our whale-watching garden tour plan). My husband took his parents back there this February during the Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown promotions, because they were able to get a very good deal on admissions.
Fees: Adult admission is $30 and children are $2. If you don’t see everything in the garden on your first day, you can get next day readmission for $3.50 for adults or $1 for children (just keep your original receipt).
If you’re planning a trip to Vancouver Island, visit my Vancouver Island Page.