Must See Butchart Gardens And Other Victoria BC Gardens

42

Victoria BC Gardens carry an imprint of British Days of the city. The best example being the Butchart Gardens.

Victoria BC Gardens
Victoria BC Gardens

Any place with British influence has well-maintained gardens – be it Singapore or Kandy. Victoria BC also has its share of lovely gardens – that are perfect for walking, for spending time with nature and to witness the diversity of nature.

Here is my list of must-see nature outposts.

Butchart Gardens

Without a doubt, this is the most popular one in the area.

The Butchart Gardens - Victoria BC

Butchart Gardens History

They were built a century ago by Jennie Butchart when she came to Victoria BC with her husband Robert Butchart. Robert was here for limestone mining for the rising demand for cement. Once the limestone exhausted, Mrs. Butchart decided to convert the barren quarry into a garden. Yes, they took birth in the pit of a limestone quarry that was covered with a layer of fresh soil. You can still see a tall chimney from the Sunken garden as a memorial of its roots.

Soon many others were added to the estate.

Ross Fountain at Sunken Garden of Butchart Gardens - Victoria BC - Canada
Ross Fountain

It was their grandson Ian Ross who converted it into an international tourist destination that it is today. He received gardens as a gift on his 21st birthday. And he spent his life nurturing them. He introduced outdoor concerts that continue to happen every summer here. He started Christmas celebrations on the premises. In fact, when I visited in November, Christmas preparations were in full swing. Plants and trees were being pruned. Christmas lights were being hanged. Mild maidens were being dressed.

This is designated National Historic Site of Canada.

Gardens at Butchart Gardens

Sunken Garden where you can see the lovely Ross Fountain.

It is really a collection of many gardens in a single space. This is where the quarry was.

Italian Garden
Italian Garden

Italian Garden came up on the Butchart’s tennis court. This is a lovely place to stand and you would almost feel ported to Italy.

There is a Rose garden where in the season you would see lots of roses. My guide told me that Mr. Butchart brought a lot of exotic birds including peacocks here, supplementing his wife’s efforts.

Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

The Japanese garden is probably the most loved part here. I enjoyed walking around, where you keep crossing small bridges across small streams. There are small corners that give you a private space within this vast public space. You can easily sit and have a quiet conversation here. I was told that this is a favorite place for couples to propose. So, be prepared to see some romance in the air with someone on his knees proposing to his beloved.

It is located on the seaside. Besides nature, there is a water activity area called Butchart Cove.

There are ponds, fountains and canopied walkways. Perfect for a leisurely walk.

Best Time to visit

Lush green lawns
Lush green lawns

You can visit them anytime but here is a seasonal spread if you would like to choose:

  • Spring for colorful flowering blooms
  • Summer for all kinds of colorful flowers
  • Fall for the lovely fall colors – I can vouch for the absolute brilliant colors I saw – almost all shades of Gold and Red.
  • Christmas time (which is most of December) – for the Christmas decorations
  • Rest of Winter I am told it is peaceful

Saturdays for fireworks and other entertainment events. Check their calendar.

You can have your own event there – a wedding or a birthday party or a family gathering or an office team offsite.

I was told you can buy an annual pass that allows you any number of entries during the year. It makes sense if you are a local or a frequent visitor to the place. Check here all season images.

Restaurants

There are 3 restaurants inside the complex.

 Lovely view from the cafeteria
Lovely view from the cafeteria

The Dining Room restaurant is located in the home of Butcharts. It is popular for the English Afternoon Tea all year long. Seasonally, it also serves lunch and dinner.

The Blue Poppy restaurant is a cafeteria-style restaurant. Coffee Shop for a quick bite of sandwiches or just coffee.

I liked the fact that they actively discourage the use of disposable cups and glasses. You are encouraged to bring your water bottle that you can refill at water fountains.

There are the mandatory visitor center and Souvenir shop.

Map of Butchart Gardens

A map can be seen right at the entrance. This would help you plan your trail. You can also have a pdf of the map from their website.

It is not really in the city but about 30-40 minutes drive from the city. There are Tours by companies like CVS tours that would take you to the Butchart Gardens and bring you back. There are city buses and a shuttle that you can take.

Keep at least half a day for exploring the nature there.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Yes, it is an enclosed one with a controlled rainforest-like environment. You enter the garden through its souvenir shop cum ticketing counter.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Butterfly on a slice of apple

In the winters, I had to take off my jacket to feel comfortable in the place. Through a maze, you go through various parts chasing the butterflies. There are tables with fruits like apples, banana, star fruit, and sweet lime to attract butterflies. This is where you see the whole bunch of them.

There is an artificial stream with a flamingo couple who were constantly drinking water. Some baby turtles were lazing on a log of wood while some others were walking around.

There are colorful birds like Macaws and parrots. They will keep you engaged with their tantrums and shrill calls. If you persist some of them will come and sit on your hands.

A Buddha sits in the quiet corner in the middle of a small stream.

You can easily spend 1-2 hours here.

This one is on the way. In fact, a Butchart Garden Tour includes a stop at the Butterfly one as well, but you need to buy your own entry tickets.

For the visit, timings check out their website.

Read MoreOpen Air Butterfly Conservatory in Goa

Government House Gardens

Government house in Victoria BC is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The house has 36 acres of garden space with the unique Garry Oak ecosystem. If you are wondering what is Gerry Oak ecosystem, it is an ecosystem surrounding the local variety of oak trees named after Nicolas Garry of Hudson Bay Company. Read more on this link.

Bench beneath a tall tree at Government Gardens - Victoria BC
A bench beneath a tall tree

These are traditional English gardens. I entered through the gates, walking from the Craigdarroch Castle nearby. As soon as I entered I saw the tall trees of mid-fall. Half the leaves were on the ground and half on the trees, ready to shed anytime.

The most beautiful part of these places is peace and quiet, unlike other gardens that are full of people. What I liked the most were the quiet sitting places. A bench beneath a tall triangular tree, another below a short tree, another beneath a canopy. I wish I could sit and read some poetry there.

Deer at Government Gardens, Victoria BC
Deer

As I walked a bit inside the garden, it started appearing more like a jungle. I even spotted a deer jumping around. How wonderful!

If you have to choose one visit the Government House Gardens. This is what all the locals also told me and as they say, never underestimate the power of local knowledge.

They are open from dusk to dawn. In the morning and evening, you will meet some regular walkers.

Beacon Park Hill

Fall colors of Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC
Fall colors of Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is a complete destination in itself. Imagine it has two walking trails, a few Ponds, a couple of playgrounds and petting zoo. I walked close to this park one morning and then I drove through the park on my hop on hop off tour.

The park gets its name from the beacon on top of the hill. For a long time, this was the municipal park of the city.

The crowning glory of the Beacon Hill Park is the tallest Totem Pole built by the master craftsman Martin Mungo.

Read MoreHistory of First Nations and Totem Poles

Beacon Hill is a perfect place for a morning walk. During my walk, I came across peacocks roaming in the park, something that I was not expecting. They were next to a giant sculpture of a tea kettle.

Abkhazi Garden

It is historic as it belonged to a Prince named Abkhazi. However, today it is a tea house. You can also get a 45-min guided tour of the garden.

I could not visit it due to the paucity of time. Or may you should always leave something to come back to.

These are huge, well maintained and it would be an understatement to say – Beautiful.

I am usually running after the museum and cultural spaces but in the gardens and parks in here pulled me more than other places.

It is a perfect destination for those looking for nature soaked holiday or if like me you love walking.

Read more Canada Travelogues:

Visiting Canada – British Columbia First Impressions

Whistler Ziplining – An adventurous way to explore the Ski Town

Top 20 Canada Souvenirs to pick – Vancouver Shopping

42 COMMENTS

  1. This is a place my mother would enjoy. I am not so into gardens, I prefer forests but I do like the picture with the autumn colors of the trees. That’s the time of the year when I would visit Canada. The colorful forests and cool crisp air are what would make me want to visit the tea house. I think so you visited at the right time too. 🙂 I bet in summer the gardens would be great for picnics. I don’t know how it is there but do the authorities allow people to do BBQs in those public gardens?

    • Helene – It was almost perfect time for me to visit Canada – have never seen such beautiful fall colors. I was told that gardens are full of people during summers. I was happy to have them to myself in fall and in the low tourist season. I do not think they allow private BBQs but they do have restaurants that serve food all the time.

  2. Beautiful pictures! Victoria, BC is one of my favorite places. Loved Butchart Gardens but didn’t have time to do all of it. We will be going back to check it out again. This time will try to go in the fall. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Thanks for sharing your visit to Butchart Gardens. It has been a long time since I last visited. Time to go back next time we are in B.C. I will make sure to visit Government House and Beacon Hill as well. So much British tradition in Victoria!

    • Adam – if you want to do these gardens and a few other things in Victoria at a comfortable pace, you would need at least 3 days, but I squeezed everything in 2 days but I did walk really long days.

  4. I am sure this garden must be beautiful in every season and those fall colors are gorgeous. Will add this to “check them out” list, when we visit Canada.

  5. What a lovely place to visit. I really love how they have various gardens in the styles of others such as Italian and Japanese, giving a world tour just within the gardens themselves! One to bookmark for my next trip that way.

  6. Your photos are beautiful! I’ve been to Victoria so many times, but I’ve actually never been to Butchart Gardens. I never knew that a husband and wife essentially started what’s now a famous attraction!

  7. Such beautiful captures of the gardens there. Gardens are indeed relaxing and when the have such colorful flora and fauna it becomes such a good photo opportunity. Loved the video… thought the macaw sad Ma… 🙂

  8. The Butchart Gardens gardens look just lovely – seems like a great place to spend an afternoon or enjoy a concert. I think the Japanese Gardens would probably be my favorite. We have some Japanese Gardens in my town of Portland and I love visiting them in all the different seasons – great photo opportunities.

    But my wife goes nuts whenever she sees a butterfly so I am sure if we went we would wind up spending quite a bit of time in the Victoria Butterfly Garden.

  9. The Ross fountain looks so beautiful! The peace and quiet that you experienced there is definitely rare to find in a garden open to public. And to find a deer there? Wow, weren’t you taken by surprise when you first spotted it?

  10. I love visiting gardens when I travel! Although I’m Canadian, I still haven’t made it out to BC. I think I’ll change that this year, at last! I’ll be sure to visit some of these beautiful gardens when I go.

  11. Gardens aren’t usually my thing but these seem to be interesting! Especially the Victoria Butterfly Gardens –
    an artificial stream with a flamingo couple? Now who would want to miss something like this?
    And did you really see baby turtles lazing around? I envy you! 😀

  12. I love the fall colours at the Beacon Park Hill and the Japanese gate, they’ve done it perfectly, exactly as the gates they have in Japan. Deer and butterflies to give you company, how cool is that? And the Ross Fountains look quite majestic. Good to know that they also have 3 restaurants inside the gardens. Looks like a great place to step away from busy city life and relax in tranquil surroundings.

  13. We loved our time in Victoria BC. Butchart Gardens were pretty, but I think they had been overhyped a bit too much before we went, so we had these grand expectations and didn’t feel like they were met. It was an enjoyable day, but we felt wasn’t standout as compared to other botanic gardens. Really enjoyed the Government House Gardens though, and Beacon Park Hill; I think these felt more authentic than Butchart 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your time there!

  14. The Butchart Gardens looks absolutely stunning. I agree with you that British do have a penchant for large gardens and had ensured that where ever they went. The yearly pass is probably useful for the locals. Awesome photos!

  15. These gardens look absolutely and strangely I am reminded of the Ramoji film City that has tried re-incarnate such a landscape inside their acres of land.
    I am glad that atleast after depleting the hills/quaries of the minerals, he thought of adding a lung space to this region. And that photograph of the butterfly relishing its daily supply of fruit juices is absolutely brilliant!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here