Tea is served at the gardens

Tea is served at the gardens

Last week I had the good fortune to visit the lovely city of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and viewed the Butchart Gardens with a special behind the scenes look at their greenhouses.   The Butchart Gardens are a National Historic Site although they are still owned by the Butchart Family.  They are open 365 days a year and maintain year round beauty.  November is probably the most “off season” for them, so they give weekend greenhouse tours just during this month.  It requires sign up in advance and they fill up early.

http://www.butchartgardens.com/visit

The gardens are host to more than a million visitors a year and have a staff of gardeners that is around 250 in the off-season and can grow to over 600 during the peak months of July and August.  They are open 365 days a year and due to their location in a sheltered valley with 215 frost free days and 30 inches of rain, it is more of a Mediterranean climate than one would expect this far North.

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It is hard to pick among the many lovely views, but I thought the cove was particularly picturesque that day.

one view of the sunken garden

The sunken garden is particularly dramatic and was created by carting loam into an abandoned limestone quarry.   There is a “before” and “after” picture from a sign at the gardens that gives some idea of the dramatic change.  The inspiration behind these gardens was Jennie Butchart who began the project in 1904 and is a reflection of the early 20th century beautification movement.

picture of old limestone quarry

picture of old limestone quarry

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one view of the sunken garden

one view of the sunken garden

The Greenhouse tour was quite interesting.  They have 25 greenhouses and use beneficial insects to help with pest management.  I learned a new use for Sprite.  Apparently a diluted mixture when sprayed on ladybugs will keep them from flying off to care for your neighbor’s gardens.  They don’t use ladybugs themselves,  but buy beneficial insects from a local company that propagates them.  Here is an example of a container of Brown Lacewings that they received.

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I am sure it is much more lovely in summer, but it was still a dramatic and interesting visit.

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