In 1970 my mother retired from her teaching career. She had Parkinsons disease and was becoming increasingly disabled. While she was still able to travel, she and my father celebrated her retirement by taking a month-long trip across Canada by train, a cruise to Alaska once they reached the west coast, and several excursions into the Rocky Mountains on their way home. Amid all those experiences of a lifetime, my mother raved about oneÂ day of stand-outÂ memories:Â Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.Â I grew up with my mom's love of flowers (if not her desire to pull weeds myself!) so I filed away her tales of floral splendor and hoped to see the place for myself someday.
That opportunityÂ presented itself in August 2001 when my husband put me in charge of planning our summer vacation trip.Â Since neither of us had ever been to the Pacific Northwest, we set that as our destination.Â He kindly let me plan the itinerary, so I dusted off that long-held memory ofÂ horticultural glory and made Buchart Gardens one of our first stops.
In a nutshell, the Butchart Gardens are the result of one woman's incredible vision to refurbish a limestone quarry into a site of beauty.Â In 1904 Jennie Butchart, whose husband ran a very successful Portland cement company nearby, devised a plan to move tons of topsoil from nearby fields into the abandoned quarry and began her gardening efforts there. Â In the background you can see a chimney remaining from an old kiln.
The Gardens evolved to an eventual size of 55 acres.Â It is a photographer's dream!
The Butchart Gardens are well-worth the effort of getting there.Â Located on Vancouver Island near Victoria, theÂ capital of British Columbia, the Gardens are nearly impossible to do justice to with words or even pictures.Â TheÂ photos I included here were scanned from 35mm prints, then manipulated with Photoshop Elements to strengthen the edges and colors.Â They at least can whet your appetite to see more!
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[The home page for the Gardens, http://www.butchartgardens.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1, as well as an article by Gather member Mary Alward, http://www.butchartgardens.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1, tell the fascinating history of this incredible place in much greater detail than I am willing to enter into here.]