Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Victoria and Butchart Gardens

Port Angeles is an hour's passenger ferry ride from Victoria, the capitol of British Columbia, on Vancouver Island.  So bright and early (7:30 - early for us) Tuesday morning we found ourselves at the dock for the Victoria Express.  We had a bumpy crossing under a thick marine layer - apparently we were being broadsided by the tide - but the sun was shining over Canada.  We came into Victoria watching the commuter seaplanes come in and out of their terminal in the Inner Harbor.
There's lots to see and do in Victoria, but the big attraction for us is Butchart Gardens.  Butchard Gardens was the magnificent dream of the Butchards, owners of a played out limestone quarry about 15 miles from the ferry.  Over thirty or more years, they transformed a hole in the ground into 55 acres of gardens on a 155 acre estate called Benvenuto - the gardens are as welcoming as the name.
Looking Down on the Sunken Garden

Into the Rose Garden
We used the local, very efficient public transit to get there.  Butchard Gardens is a place that deserves days - there are so many species of flowers and ornamental plants, and they play continuously against the changing light.  Each of the thematic gardens - the Sunken Garden, the Bog Garden,  the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden, the Mediterranean Garden - all deserve hours.  In the background, we heard the Victoria Symphony rehearsing Mozart for a concert on the Concert Green.  Needless to say, we stayed until we had to get the bus back to our ferry.
Joan and Jim in the Japanese Garden
Harriett of the Flowers

Back in Victoria, we had time to look into the Empress Hotel, modernized and expanded since Joan and her Mom had tea there 40 years ago, but not particularly welcoming now.   We also admired the Parliament Building.

The trip back to Port Angeles was calmer.  It was also slower because we encountered a thick fog bank halfway across.  We spent our time planning our next trip to Victoria.