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The Butchart Chronicles : May 19, 2017

Flower and Garden Report May 18th to May 25th, 2017

Flower and Garden Report May 18th – May 25th, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

We have begun the transition from our spectacular spring floral display to the planting of fresh summer annuals as the peak of the bulb display begins to taper off. The weather has been cool - which is ideal for extending the bloom time of the spring bulbs and many flowering trees and shrubs. So don’t worry, even though we’re in a state of transition, there is still an abundance of colour throughout the Gardens to satisfy the desire of any garden lover!

Just out this week are the famous Blue Poppies which are a draw in themselves as people come from far and wide just to get a glimpse of their stunning, pure blue flowers. After having been away for a week I missed the unfolding of the splendid white bracts of the Davidia or Handkerchief tree. These are always a highlight until they begin to drop and hang like tissue from anything that happens growing beneath them!

The garden will slowly begin to embrace summer during the next couple of weeks, but if you have a desire to see the spring garden at its finest, don’t delay as change is in the wind.    

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Aesculus
  • Ajuga
  • Allium
  • Aquilegia
  • Arisaema (Cobra Lily, Jack-in-the-pulpit)
  • Azalea
  • Bellis
  • Bergenia
  • Brunnera
  • Cercis
  • Chaenomeles
  • Convallaria (Lily-of-the –Valley)
  • Cornus nutallii
  • Davidia (Handkerchief tree)
  • Deutzia
  • Dicentra
  • Doronicum
  • Eremurus
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euphorbia
  • Exochorda
  • Fritillaria
  • Gentian
  • Geum
  • Helleborus   
  • Iberis
  • Kerria
  • Magnolia
  • Myosotis
  • Narcissus
  • Ornithogalum
  • Pansy
  • Papaver
  • Pericallis (Cinerarea)
  • Polyanthus/Primula
  • Prunus (flowering Cherries)
  • Rhododendron
  • Spirea
  • Tiarella
  • Trollius
  • Tulips
  • Viburnum

 
The Butchart Chronicles : May 10, 2017

Flower and Garden Report May 4th to May 17th

Flower and Garden Report May 4th – May 17th, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

We’re finally there! The peak of the spring bulb display has finally arrived and we should be producing this exceptional level of floral beauty for the next couple of weeks. The weather has been ideal in extending the longevity of the Tulips, Daffodils and even the Hyacinths as they are blooming together in an unusual and spectacular fusion of colour and fragrance. A unique highlight for this year is a special planting of tulips designed to honour and celebrate Canada’s 150 years of Confederation.        

If the bulbs aren’t quite enough, we have an abundance of colour coming at you from every level of the garden with an incredible variety of trees, shrubs and perennials now in full bloom. The Cherry trees are out in full force and the ornamental Crabapples are following closely behind. There is also a colourful parade of Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Lilacs which provide a lovely backdrop to the fabulous display borders.   


If I could make a recommendation, I would say that this is one season in Jennie Butchart’s garden that you truly do not want to miss!  

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Ajuga
  • Amelanchier
  • Anemone blanda (Windflower)
  • Azalea
  • Bellis
  • Bergenia
  • Brunnera
  • Cercis
  • Cornus nutallii
  • Dicentra
  • Doronicum
  • Epimedium
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euphorbia
  • Exochorda
  • Fritillaria
  • Gentian
  • Geum
  • Helleborus   
  • Hyacinth
  • Iberis
  • Kerria
  • Leucojum
  • Lewisia
  • Magnolia
  • Malus (flowering crabapple)
  • Muscari
  • Myosotis
  • Narcissus
  • Osmanthus
  • Pansy
  • Pericallis (Cinerarea)
  • Pieris
  • Polyanthus/Primula
  • Prunus (flowering Cherries)
  • Pulmonaria
  • Pulsatilla
  • Ranunculus ficaria
  • Rhododendron
  • Ribes (Currant)
  • Spirea
  • Tulips

 
The Butchart Chronicles : April 28, 2017

New: The Japanese Dragon at The Butchart Gardens

Rebuilt Japanese Dragon Returns to The Japanese Garden

The dragon that once graced the top of the watercourse in the Japanese Garden has returned. Admittedly, it’s not the original, but we will go out on a limb and state with great confidence that it is superior in many ways. Although we don’t have any historical records regarding the original dragon, we had local artist Nathan Scott recreate this exquisite piece by taking fragments from the original piece, rebuilding what he had to the best of his ability, and then reimagining and recreating the intricate details. What Nathan has achieved is remarkable as the new dragon is simply stunning and should turn the heads of every visitor descending the stairs into our Japanese Garden.

You may be wondering about the differences in dragons and what makes them unique as we now have a dragon of Chinese origin and this newly minted Japanese version.  If you look closely, the first thing you may have noticed is that the Chinese dragon has 5 toes and the Japanese dragon has only three. The Chinese claim that dragons originated in their country and as the dragon flew further away from their home they began losing toes. The Japanese claim ownership of origin as well, but their story is that the dragons gained toes as they flew further away.

When you view the Japanese dragon, it is quite clear that there is a certain fierceness emanating from it. Japanese folklore does make it clear that their dragons could be quite destructive and violent, whereas the Chinese viewed their dragons as being more benevolent towards us humans.

Another noticeable feature that you will see with our Japanese dragon is the pearl that it is holding in its right hand. Pearls typically represent wisdom and since dragons were thought to be supernaturally wise it would have been natural for them to hold onto and cherish such treasures.

Whatever the case, this fabulous new addition adds an element of surprise and originality to our wonderful Japanese Garden.             

 
The Butchart Chronicles : April 21, 2017

Flower and Garden Report April 20th - April 26th

Flower and Garden Report April 20 - April 26, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

As much as I would love to say it, I still can’t say that we have reached the peak of our spring bulb display. However, what I will say is that we are experiencing one of the most unhurried and unusually beautiful spring seasons that any of us can recall. I have to admit that this has been another humbling spring season for me personally as once again, my prediction for viewing the peak of our spring bulb display has failed dismally. Last year the season was extraordinarily early and this year the exact opposite is true – so no more bold proclamations for me – I think I’ll let the garden do the proclaiming all by itself!  

If you haven’t visited us in the spring time you are truly missing out. The beauty of the garden is unrivaled at this time of the year as you may experience the feeling of being completely engulfed in glorious colour and fragrance.

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Ajuga
  • Amelanchier
  • Anemone blanda (Windflower)
  • Bellis
  • Bergenia
  • Brunnera
  • Cornus nutallii (just beginning to emerge)
  • Corylopsis
  • Daphne
  • Dicentra
  • Edgeworthia
  • Epimedium
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Erythronium
  • Euphorbia
  • Fritillaria
  • Helleborus   
  • Hyacinth
  • Iberis
  • Kerria
  • Leucojum
  • Lysichiton (Skunk cabbage)
  • Magnolia
  • Muscari
  • Myosotis
  • Narcissus
  • Osmanthus
  • Pansy
  • Pieris
  • Polyanthus/Primula
  • Prunus (flowering Cherries)
  • Pulmonaria
  • Pulsatilla
  • Ranunculus ficaria
  • Rhododendron
  • Ribes (Currant)
  • Trillium
  • Tulips (earliest varieties are out and many other varieties will be blooming within the next week!)

 
The Butchart Chronicles : April 21, 2017

Spring Birds of The Butchart Gardens

Spring Birds of The Butchart Gardens

Early spring is a wonderful time at The Gardens. It's not just the gardens that start to come to life - there's insects, birds and animals of all kinds.

Recently, our photographer has been lucky enough to capture some great photos of our frequent bird visitors. They seem just as excited about spring as we are.

Here are three birds that were seen at The Butchart Gardens over the past couple of weeks.

 1. Hummingbird

The Butchart Gardens is located in a microclimate with an abundance of plants that attract a few species of hummingbird. This past week, our photographer spotted the Rufous hummingbird approaching cherry blossoms.

2. Junco

This male dark-eyed junco is one of the birds whose song provides a relaxing soundtrack and a sense of spring as you walk through The Gardens. Common in the Pacific Northwest, the dark-eyed junco is a welcome visitor.

3. Warbler

The Orange-crowned warbler makes itself at home quite easily here at The Gardens. Just as the hummingbirds do, this bird has been frequenting the cherry blossoms recently.

It doesn't stop here. There are so many bird visitors stopping by or making homes here everyday. Stay tuned as we capture photos of more of the "Spring Birds of The Butchart Gardens".

 
The Butchart Chronicles : April 13, 2017

Flower and Garden Report April 13th - April 19th

Flower and Garden Report April 13 - April 19, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

It’s fitting that this is the week that the gardens have truly sprung to life! There has been such a visible shift as waves of colour are now flowing throughout the gardens. After a bit of a delay, tens of thousands of early blooming Narcissus (Daffodils) have arrived on the scene, but having arrived late, many of them are being overshadowed by their companion plantings – there must be a message in there somewhere! However, stealing the show this week are the colourful and intoxicatingly fragrant Hyacinths, which make their presence known almost everywhere you turn.

With the cool weather and the subsequent delayed arrival of the display, we are seeing a fascinating overlap of flowering bulbs which will never be duplicated. I love this time of year because there is an almost tangible energy that invigorates you as you walk through and experience the miraculous beauty of the season.

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abeliophylum – (White Forsythia)
  • Anemone blanda (Windflower)
  • Bellis
  • Bergenia
  • Brunnera
  • Daphne
  • Edgeworthia
  • Epimedium
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Erythronium
  • Euphorbia
  • Forsythia
  • Fritillaria
  • Helleborus   
  • Hyacinth
  • Iberis
  • Kerria
  • Leucojum
  • Lysichiton (Skunk cabbage)
  • Magnolia
  • Myosotis
  • Narcissus
  • Osmanthus
  • Pansy
  • Pieris
  • Polyanthus/Primula
  • Pulmonaria
  • Pulsatilla
  • Puschkinia
  • Ranunculus ficaria
  • Rhododendron
  • Ribes (Currant)
  • Scilla     
  • Stachyurus
  • Trillium
  • Tulips (earliest varieties)

 
The Butchart Chronicles : April 7, 2017

Flower and Garden Report April 6 - April 12

Flower and Garden Report April 6th - April 12th, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

If there is one thing that we have learned from the garden this year, it has to be patience. Patience is basically waiting without complaining and you would think that this would be relatively easy to achieve in such a beautiful setting. The only decent excuse that we have for our impatience is that we are all simply yearning for more – more beauty, more colour and more fragrance - especially after what seemed to be such a long, dreary winter.   

On a more cheerful and exciting note - this past week we have seen the arrival of the first full beds of early flowering Tulips and the Hyacinths are also coming out in full force providing their wonderfully intoxicating fragrance. Another highlight, and one of the most exciting signs of spring for many of our visitors is the arrival of Cherry blossoms, but for me it’s the first blooms on our magnificent Magnolia trees that I truly cherish.

Spring is here and every day of every week the garden will reveal something new! This is truly the one of the most dynamic and invigorating times of year to come and experience what the garden has to offer. 

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abeliophylum – (White Forsythia)
  • Anemone blanda (Windflower)
  • Bellis
  • Bergenia
  • Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry)
  • Daphne
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euphorbia
  • Forsythia
  • Galanthus (Snowdrop)
  • Hamamelis
  • Helleborus   
  • Hyacinth
  • Leucojum
  • Lysichiton (Skunk cabbage)
  • Magnolia
  • Myosotis
  • Pansy (hanging baskets are out!)
  • Pieris
  • Polyanthus/Primula
  • Pulmonaria
  • Pulsatilla
  • Puschkinia
  • Ranunculus fricaria
  • Rhododendron
  • Ribes (Currant)
  • Scilla     
  • Stachyurus
  • Tulips (earliest varieties)   
 
The Butchart Chronicles : March 31, 2017

Flower and Garden Report March 30th to April 5th

Flower and Garden Report March 30  - April 7, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

daffodils March Bloom

 

There is tension in the air as we eagerly anticipate the tens of thousands of bulbs that are set to burst into bloom. After a long, cold winter the bulbs simply can’t wait any longer and are beginning to come out in spectacular waves of colour throughout the gardens.  
We feel that we have one of the most spectacular spring garden displays in the world and it goes without saying that we are excited about this year’s display. Although the timing of the flowering for many of the bulb varieties may be somewhat out of our planned sequence, nature has a way of outdoing our grandest plans and provide us with a sequence that we will be more than satisfied with.  
It is with some sadness that we say goodbye to this year’s Spring Prelude indoor garden display.
Our incredible staff have worked so hard to present something fresh and new this year and are already making plans for changes and improvements for 2018.

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In Bloom - Outside in the Garden:
•    Abeliophylum – (White Forsythia)
•    Anemone blanda (Windflower)
•    Bellis
•    Bergenia
•    Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry)
•    Daphne
•    Eranthis (Winter aconite)
•    Erica (Heather)
•    Forsythia
•    Galanthus (Snowdrop)
•    Hamamelis
•    Helleborus   
•    Iris reticulata
•    Jasminium (Winter Jasmine)
•    Lysichiton (Skunk cabbage)
•    Mahonia x media ‘Charity’
•    Myosotis
•    Pansy (hanging baskets are out!)
•    Pieris
•    Polyanthus/Primula
•    Pulmonaria
•    Pulsatilla
•    Puschkinia
•    Rhododendron
•    Ribes (Currant)
•    Sarcococca (Sweet Box)
•    Scilla     
•    Stachyurus
•    Tulips (earliest varieties)
•    Viburnum bodnantense
•    Viburnum tinus    

 
The Butchart Chronicles : March 24, 2017

Flower and Garden Report March 24 - 31, 2017

 

Flower and Garden Report March 24 - March 30, 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture
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The first week of spring has arrived and it looks like we’ve turned a corner in the garden as masses of colour are starting to appear in many areas. The Rose garden is in full bloom with a spectacular carpet of Crocuses that may even be more colourful than the roses themselves when they come into bloom in the summer!  

The Daffodils still seem a little hesitant as they are just starting to make their appearance, but when they do decide to get with the program they will make an incredible impact. The earliest Cherries are blossoming along with the bravest of the Camellias and Rhododendrons and we should see many more varieties exhibiting their colours out in the near future.

This is the last full week for the Spring Prelude display and it continues to inspire our visitors with its exquisite design features and its abundance of colour and fragrance. You may regret not seeing this delightful display, so please make sure you take the opportunity to see it before the end of next week……….of course there is always next year!  

In Bloom - Outside in the Garden:

  • Abeliophylum – (White Forsythia)
  • Anemone blanda (Windflower)
  • Arbutus unedo
  • Bellis
  • Bergenia
  • Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry)
  • Crocus
  • Daphne
  • Eranthis (Winter aconite)
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Forsythia
  • Galanthus (Snowdrop)
  • Hamamelis
  • Helleborus   
  • Iris reticulata
  • Jasminium (Winter Jasmine)
  • Lysichiton (Skunk cabbage)
  • Mahonia x media ‘Charity’
  • Myosotis
  • Pansy (hanging baskets are out!)
  • Pieris
  • Polyanthus
  • Pulmonaria
  • Pulsatilla
  • Puschkinia
  • Rhododendron
  • Sarcococca (Sweet Box)
  • Scilla     
  • Viburnum bodnantense
  • Viburnum tinus   

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What’s blooming in Spring Prelude

  • Anthurium
  • Azalea
  • Begonia - Rieger
  • Bromeliad
  • Cercis
  • Chaenomeles
  • Convallaria (Lily-of-the-Valley)
  • Corylopsis
  • Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Daphne
  • Edgeworthia
  • Forsythia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gerbera
  • Hamamelis
  • Helleborus
  • Hyacinth
  • Iris (reticulata)
  • Jasminium polyanthum (White or Pink Jasmine)
  • Justicia (Shrimp plant)
  • Loropetalum (Chinese Fringe plant)
  • Malus
  • Kerria
  • Magnolia
  • Narcissus
  • Orchid (Phalaenopsis, Cymbidium, Paphiopedilum)
  • Pieris
  • Pittosporum
  • Polyanthus
  • Prunus (Plum)
  • Ribes (Currant)
  • Sarcococca
  • Scilla 
  • Spiraea
  • Spathiphyllum
  • Syringa (Lilac)
  • Tulip
  • Velthemia
  • Viburnum bodnantense
  • Viburnum tinus
  • Wisteria
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The Butchart Chronicles : March 24, 2017

Garden Notebook Spring 2017

Garden Notebook – Spring 2017

Written by Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

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There has never been a year where we have so eagerly anticipated the arrival of spring in our garden. With all the talk of global warming we were expecting and planning for another early spring, but in a humbling change of events, Mother Nature decided to cool our region off significantly during the past few months. That being what it was, the garden itself did not suffer any unexpected physical damage. However, in comparison to last year, our floral calendar is almost a full month behind and because of this we are anticipating one of the most dynamic spring seasons ever.     

I personally like to think that the delay of the spring display is a blessing in disguise as once the weather warms up the garden should literally erupt with a magnificent explosion of colour. Nature has never set any boundaries as to what colours can and should bloom together so we won’t make any excuses if our carefully planned colour schemes don’t quite harmonize as we feel they should.


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You may be wondering how we actually plan our spring bulb display, so here are a few basic guidelines that we use every year. Typically the first bulbs to emerge out of the ground are the Snowdrops (Galanthus) which are quickly followed by Scilla, Crocus, Muscari and Chionodoxa – there are many others, but these are the main varieties. These bulbs are all primarily used for naturalizing so some see them as playing a secondary role in the overall display. The earliest Daffodils are the next to arrive and we mix these into many of our borders to provide colour before the Tulips appear. The earliest of the Tulips can be found in pockets throughout the garden followed by Hyacinths and these are also typically planted along with Tulips to provide our first sequence of colour. Among the groups of Tulips, Daffodils and even the Hyacinths, certain varieties will bloom at different times throughout the spring. We do our best to arrange the hundreds of varieties we use so that we have a continual flow of endless colour throughout the garden. Our goal is to have the colours blending harmoniously together in the sweeping borders as well as with the surrounding landscape. All of our display borders are under-planted with biennials, which bloom according to their own timing with a range of individual colours that are also critical for the overall presentation.  I like to think of our spring garden as a symphony of colour with various movements coming together to form a remarkably brilliant composition. However, as much as we feel that we are the conductors of this orchestra, there is a greater power who is waving the baton and determining the tempo of each piece!    

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Whatever the final outcome, this truly is the most exciting time in the garden as each day brings new life and a vibrancy that simply isn’t as tangible at any other time of the year. There is no other season when you can feel completely immersed in colour as every layer of the landscape – from the flowing borders to the cascading canopies of the trees  participate in the magnificent floral display that surrounds you.


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While this is taking place in the garden, the greenhouses are a hive of activity as many staff work tirelessly to produce the tens of thousands of plants required for our summer floral display. There is a continuous ebb and flow of plants pouring in and out of greenhouses as they move through the various stages of their growth. This process requires a great deal of organization, planning and (most of all!) patience. Our greenhouse staff are also responsible for the production of hundreds of awe-inspiring hanging baskets as well as the exquisite collection of fabulous container plantings that provide added inspiration throughout the landscape. We are extremely proud of our staff and I have to say that they produce some of the finest hanging baskets and container plantings that can be found anywhere in the world!

There is so much more that could be written, but words simply can’t convey the intrinsic beauty of the season or the efforts taken by our staff to create and maintain this brilliant masterpiece.  

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