Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tea and the Twelve Days of Christmas at Butchart Gardens

Brian and Peggy invited us to Butchart Gardens for afternoon tea and we were happy to go. We went to the Gardens when we were married in 1991 and were looking forward to seeing them again.

A small history of Butchart Gardens...

In 1988 near his birthplace in Owen Sound, Ontario, the former dry goods merchant, Robert Pim Butchart, began manufacturing Portland cement. By the turn of the century, he had become a highly successful pioneer in this growing North American industry. Attracted to the west coast of Canada by rich limestone deposits vital for cement production, he built a factory at Tod Inlet on Vancouver Island. There in 1904, he and his family established their home.

As he exhausted the limestone in the quarry near their house, his enterprising wife, Jennie, conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farm land nearby she requisitioned tons of topsoil, had it brought to Tod Inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under Jennie Butchart's supervision, the abandoned quarry blosssomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.

Each year the garden grew. She added a Japanese garden and then an Italian garden and in the 1920s more than 50,000 people visited the gardens. It has remained a family business to this day and has become a premier West Coast attraction. Each year more than one million bedding plants are used to ensure uninterrupted bloom from March to October.

Here is the sunken garden when we visited. Although most of the blooms have gone, it is still spectacular.



Brian and Peggy in the archway that would be full of roses in the summer.

The Ross Fountain created and installed by Ian Ross, grandson of the Butcharts.

A foggy day but still very nice day in the gardens...

It would be wonderful to see everything in bloom in the summer.


A beautiful waterfall...

Part of the Japanese garden...even in the summer it wouldn't have lots of flowers, but would emphasize the various greens and beautiful textures of a traditional Japanese garden.

OK...I'm not a huge spider fan, but this was just too pretty to pass by...

The Butchart home...

We're doing a mean imitation of the statue of Mercury behind us.

One of many beautiful ponds...

A miniature village display set up for Christmas...

Rubbing the nose of the Butchart Boar...supposed to bring good luck!


An area they have set up for carollers to perform...


After our wonderful tour, it was time for tea in the dining room.

Look at the wonderful array of goodies!

Peggy enjoying a good laugh!

Yummy sandwiches on the bottom tier and the two top tiers are sweets...now that's tea!

A wonderful time!

I'm stuffed!

Beautiful orchids...

A room full of poinsettias...

Now for the twelve days of Christmas...as you walk through the gardens you spot the displays representing each of the twelve days of Christmas. They are cleverly done and although Brian and Peggy assured us you couldn't miss them, sometimes you really had to be looking! It helped to have our built-in tour guides!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...a partridge in a pear tree... (the partridge is in the crook of the tree).

One the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...two turtle doves...

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...three French hens (Eiffel tower in the left corner and look at the hens with their croissants and coffee!)

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...four calling birds (look at the parrot with the cell phone!)

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...five golden rings...

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...six geese a laying...

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...seven swans a swimming...

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...eight maids a milking. (Peggy told us that this is animated and illuminated at night...I so wish we could have seen it!)

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...nine ladies dancing...(there is more to this than we could figure out. One of the ladies is a witch, one looks like Alice in Wonderland, one looked like Heidi...still puzzling over this one!) Once again, at night they are animated and dancing...

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...ten lords a leaping...(Sadly, they leap from behind the hedge, so we just had to imagine what it would look like. Peggy was giving us amazing descriptions!)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping...(I couldn't get all eleven in the picture!)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming...(This is the archway you go under as you are driving out of the property. At night they are light up and drumming!)

Although it would be magical to see everything lit up at night, it was still an amazing tour and a wonderful lunch with Brian and Peggy! Many thanks...

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