Off downtown Victoria and on the island making great use of the glorious weather and warmer climes thanks to the nearby pacific is the see-it-to-believe-it Butchart Gardens.
A rose is a rose is a rose.
Just as an orchid is an orchid, a dandelion is a dandelion, a daffodil is a daffodil and a carnation, oh well, a carnation. A beautiful garden in full bloom is a paradise for sure, an inspiration to artists across the world, an inspiration to poets across time. From exquisite Mughal gardens to flamboyant Napolean ones, and just when in the Palace of Versailles I assumed it cannot possibly get better came the greatest sight of them all, the quintessentially majestic and surreptitiously doe-eyed, the Butchart Gardens. Setting an absolutely marvelous sight at every turn, the Butchart Garden exceed with the greatest of expectations. Beauty as they say lies in the eyes of the beholder, but Butchart is one that could possibly defy the bindings of even English Literature, its a place you cannot help but fall totally and impossibly in love with.
Located in the scenic country-side of the Saanich Peninsula we hopped onto a bus and furtively asked the driver to kindly let us know when the bus reaches the Butchart garden. Employing a highly robust tone he declared just as robustly, when we reach Butchart you will simply know. Winding through sleepy towns and the quiet countryside we werent assured of his declaration. However sleepy eyed and induced into complete relaxation by the weather, we didn’t need any heads up on reaching the famed garden! Like he said, we simply knew. A grand red rose with the words neatly emblem-ed brought to our notice at once dainty and magnificient Butchart Gardens.
The story of the Butchart Gardens is one of wonder and amazement, all great things have an even greater story, and this one is no less. Owned by the Butchart family, the site had its modest beginnings as a cement quarry used to dig out and process Portland cement by its then owner Robert Pim Butchart. For years the family quarried the land, digging out in the process rich limestone, a source of great wealth. After a whole lot of quarrying, exhausted in all the mineral deposits the land soon became quite useless. Useless for some are causes of great vision for others. Robert’s wife, Jennie Butchart, with her love for landscape and all things beautiful took interest in developing the now exhausted quarry into a sunken Japanese Garden first. The vision is marvelous as it stands today, a befitting transformation to a deeply misshapen cement quarry. Quarries are quite the opposite of a garden in terms of the environs or of beauty!
Developing the garden over ages and passing it on through generations the Butchart garden today boasts of a total of six gardens, a butterfly enclosure, a visitor’s centre, a charming carousel, a coffee shop, restaurants and a store for befitting merchandise. Apart from the earliest sunken garden, there are also the rose garden, the Japanese garden, the Italian Garden, the Mediterranean garden and the concert lawn walk. As we flitted flower to flower I cluelessly gathered the brochure understanding more about these beauties. As it goes the Gardens do not label flowers doing away with tardy signboards and thus they give out brochures for those interested in getting more information. Such is the power of beauty that it forces one to live precisely in the moment, the greatest boon of all in a time where the future or the past drown out the present moment.
While the line-up of roses make for a compelling stop at the buoyant Italian garden, where extremely good-natured buds show up with their pretty colors and magnificient fragrances, the Japanese garden is stripped down to a bare minimum, marked by an absence of flowers and sculptural trees and scrubs bent gently over time to form artwork in nature. But it is the sunken garden that literally takes your breath away with dainty waterfalls and an orchestrated creation. The garden we were told by a gardener at the Butchart sees 5 seasons of different blooms every year, while he himself travels across to different gardens across the world seeking inspiration and expertise to graft, plant and introduce new species at the Butchart. A butterfly park and a carousel steeped in an old-world charm are other features at the butchart. The gelato store at the Italian garden whips up excellent gelatos, the cherry-chocolate is exceptionally delicious while the restaurant serves a delicious spread to enjoy.
Offering loads of inspiration to botanists and amateur gardeners alike, seeds of seasonal and perennial species are available for sale amidst all other merchandise that makes a part of any tourist attraction. A garden is paradise believed the Mughals, who enjoyed creating quaint gardens just as much as they enjoyed patronizing architecture and creating a robust empire, the French also believed in the timeless beauty of gardens as did the Butcharts. A thing of beauty is joy forever and flowers are beautiful and hence full of joy. As I looked over a local florist store filled with artificial flowers I couldn’t help but think how a good copy or a good fake can never be even half as awesome as the original! Orchids, Lilies, Ferns and roses none striking an image as their original counterparts, none so glorious or beautiful. Even with the right proportions and colors they certainly do not make the cut. Beauty is never skin-deep! It may also have to do with the living aspect of it, wherein the liveliness, the changing nature of the flower makes it alive and truly beautiful. Change is beautiful, energy is beautiful, liveliness is beautiful, flowers are beautiful. Those qualities are what make a world of difference between the paper flowers sprayed with scents!
As we buzz through life, taking in the changes, sometimes embracing while sometimes defying, this new year, let’s take the time to stop and smell the roses for they are changing too!