It has been quite some time since I last visited the beautiful Butchart Gardens just north of Victoria. I have happy memories of going with my grandfather on a sunny summer’s afternoon. Today, Butchart’s is run like a well oiled machine with an ample parking lot where you are carefully guided by the many staff to your parking spot. As one heads into the gardens you must pass the large tempting gift shop and the cafe. This particular visit was made on New Year’s Day. Yes, Butchart’s was open. It was dusk, and misting, not really a rain, and a million little lights lit up the gardens for their annual Twelve Days of Christmas.
We were a group of five, three adults (grandparents and mom) and two children age 5 and 12. As darkness fell, we headed to the sunken garden. Various trees had been carefully lit, lights were strung alongside pathways. Instead of a waterfall, lights had been strung down a slope and as they flickered on and off, gave the effect of a waterfall. We had spied the partridge in a pear tree and the two turtle doves. Somehow we missed days three and four, but we did count five golden rings of lights in a pond. There is a beautiful indoor carousel on the grounds that may be ridden for a donation by children young and old. Our two children would have stayed all evening had they been given the chance. Other favourites were eight maids a-milking, which could easily be seen from a distance, a merry-go-round of nine ladies dancing – characters from children’s story books, and my personal favourite were the eleven pipers piping in the Italian Garden. The pipers were life sized renaissance marionettes, hung in the alcoves. Music of wooden flutes and pipes from a different time played creating the illusion that the pipers were indeed playing.
There is lots of music to be enjoyed as well, we heard a brass band in the distance while exploring the twelve days. Once we had completed the tour, we enjoyed a quartet of carollers dressed in period costume. Even in the cafe and the gift shop, well chosen holiday favourites played softly in the background.
We finished our visit with a hot chocolate and pastry in the cafe and a look at the many beautiful items in the gift shop. The time of year doesn’t seem to matter at the Butchart Gardens, with the gentle West Coast climate and many green thumbs, the gardens are a place of beauty and inspiration.