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The Butchart Chronicles : December 21, 2017

Flower and Garden Report December 22nd - January 6th

Flower and Garden Report December 22nd– January 6th, 2018

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant

Poplar trees, planted by Jennie Butchart herself, illuminated in the night sky (right)
Photo credit: Andrea Varju

Dashing through The Gardens at Christmas is like a surreal dream. Thousands of colourful lights lead the way through the meandering paths, lighting up the festive décor and showcasing the jewels of The Gardens: the trees.

Jennie Butchart had artistic vision and determination. Garden by garden, always thinking ahead, Jennie knew the fundamentals were critical. Trees were carefully selected and many were planted by Jennie herself. Significant to the historic garden, these trees are the pillars of her legacy.

Western red cedars leading up to the Sunken Garden

The Christmas night walk offers an incredible opportunity to view these garden icons in a whole new light. Just before you reach the Sunken Garden lookout you will walk amongst a grove of Thuja plicata (Western red cedar) sparkling with delicate lights. At the lookout, the magic comes alive with passion and excitement. The colourful lights bring the garden to life. Expert eyes of the lighting design crew have highlighted the beauty of the many trees and shrubs. Acer palmatum dissectum (Japanese maple) has such incredible structure; during the winter months it is striking in its barren state. Many fine specimens can be found here in The Gardens.

At the Ross Fountain, prepare to be mesmerized with the mystical lights encircled by the forest. Completely awe-inspiring are the six Populas italica nigra (Lombardy polar) planted by Jennie Butchart herself over 100 years ago. Far exceeding the average 80-year life expectancy, these Poplars are perhaps the most well maintained of all time! Further up the path, twinkling lights encased in grapevine balls in the native Acer macrophylla (Big leaf maple) and Davidia involucrata (Dove tree) elegantly filter through the trees.

On the Concert Lawn, you will find several Julgans regia (English walnut) trees cloaked in classic white lights. A prelude to the Seven Swans and the enchanting forest that lies beyond in the distance. The Eight Maids are in The Orchard. These venerable fruit trees include Malus domestica ‘Gravestein’ and ‘King Edward VII’ (Apple) as well as Pyrus (Pear).

The English walnut trees on the Concert Lawn cloaked in white lights (right)

During the daytime hours, you will find many other things to peak your interest. The Butchart Gardens is truly one of the world’s most beautiful places. As the year comes to a close we look forward to the New Year and reflect on the beauty of life in Jennie’s garden.

Plants, trees and shrubs that are blooming or of interest:

  • Anthurium (Flamingo flower)
  • Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Bergenia (Elephant’s ears)
  • Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Camellia
  • Catalpa (Indian bean tree)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Cyclamen
  • Davidia (Dove tree)
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euphorbia pulcherrina (Poinsettia)
  • Garrya elliptica (Silk- tassel bush)
  • Hamamelis (Witch hazel)
  • Helleborus (Christmas rose)
  • Hydrangea
  • Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)
  • Kalanchoe
  • Jasminium nudiflorum (Winter jasmine)
  • Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (Oregon grape)
  • Medinilla magnifica
  • Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)
  • Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo grass)
  • Orchid
  • Pansy
  • Pieris (Lily-of-the valley shrub)
  • Polyanthus (Primula)
  • Pyracantha
  • Sarcococca (Christmas box)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Viburnum x bodnantense
  • Viburnum tinus
  • Viola