Butchart Gardens and Victoria

August 15, 2018

by Steve

We spent a month at Anacortes, Washington, on Fidalgo island. Using Anacortes as a base, we could travel pretty much all around the area. One place that neither Jane nor I had been was Vancouver Island. We've been to Vancouver a couple of times, but just never made it across to the island, home of the world-famous Butchart Gardens.

So we took a couple days and went over to Vancouver Island on the ferry. This allowed us time to see the gardens and some other sights, as well as some friends who live in the city of Victoria. This post will be a bit pic-heavy.

Butchart Gardens is on the site of an old limestone quarry. The Butchart family made their fortune in cement, and once the quarry was pretty much exhausted, Jennie Butchart set about turning it into a garden.  I guess she got a bit tired of living in a stone quarry. In any event, the sunken garden, pictured above, is the first and probably the most famous of the areas that were converted.  

Jane misses the garden that she had back when we had a house. So visiting here, especially since there are numerous water features, was sort of therapy.

There's a rose garden, of course.

And a Japanese garden that is quite well done. Had we known more about the gardens, we would have planned to be there after dark as well as in the daytime, so we could see the charming lanterns and other lighting.

Some of the ponds could benefit from having a few fish to keep the algae under control! We were there on a hot day, and the algae blooms were going a little crazy.

So, what's the bottom line? Do these gardens live up to the hype?  Here's my view: They are definitely very good, but I was expecting something really really great. I had heard about them for a long time and was probably expecting something over the top. If you are in the area, I'd recommend going there. Just have reasonable expectations.

While in Victoria, we  found a few other things to do. We visited with our friends from winter in Tucson, Greg and Linda, who live in Victoria the rest of the year. We went to the BC museum, which was having an exhibit on Egypt. We got in free with our NARM passes.

Jane, of course, was pretty excited to meet Hapshepsut, the second female pharaoh. Subsequent male Pharaohs tried to eradicate all records of her rule. Makes you wonder how insecure they were.

Victoria also has the oldest Chinatown in Canada, although now it is rather small--just a block or so with a number of stores and restaurants. There's the famous Fan Tan Alley, but it's been taken over by upscale stores and no longer has the kind of shops that you would expect in an alley in Chinatown.

The inner harbor of Victoria is quite picturesque, with government buildings, 

 elegant hotels,

and water taxis competing for space with seaplanes.

We really enjoyed Victoria and Vancouver Island. We'd probably like to go back and spend more time seeing the wild and remote parts of the island. Maybe next time we'll take the motorhome across on the ferry and spend a month there! There's always next year...

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