The Butchart Chronicles : November 18, 2013

Garden Notebook for Christmas 2013

This is the quietest time of the year in our garden as most essential gardening tasks have been completed and the Magic of Christmas display takes over the landscape. If you have had the opportunity to view our Christmas display, you know it is so extensive it virtually eliminates any gardening with the exception being the Japanese Garden which is not included in the festive display.

Chistmas in the Sunken Garden

With the weather at this time of year our gardeners do not mind moving indoors and behind the scenes to clean and repair tools and equipment; sharpen and bundle garden stakes and perform many other necessary housekeeping tasks. December can be stormy and we might get the occasional snowfall, so time may be spent simply keeping the gardens clean and accessible for visitors.

From a floral perspective, our Show greenhouse takes center stage at this time of year as hundreds of colourful Poinsettias provide the most colourful horticultural display in the garden. Other colourful indoor horticultural displays have been installed by our greenhouse staff which may just possibly be the most elusive staff of all, as they complete their tasks well before any visitors arrive. Hours of planning are involved in these installations with planning starting at least a year prior and it just ‘magically’ appears year after year.

Speaking of planning, the planning and preparation of the indoor Spring Prelude display demands a great deal of our time in November and December as we ready ourselves for the installation of a complete indoor garden starting immediately after the Magic of Christmas ends on January 6th. We have one week to transform a 5500 square foot restaurant into a garden conservatory! The Christmas decorations, chairs and tables are removed and the food line equipment is disconnected and put into storage, leaving the space wide open for the garden to be built.

Spring prelude
Tonnes of rock and mulch are brought in, and each year our talented staff design and build unique props and water features to give the display a fresh and unique look. In the months leading up to the installation, many trees and shrubs are brought indoors and thousands of bulbs are prepared for forcing to ensure the display opens with a flurry of colour. The transformation is simply amazing and the end result is a display that will dazzle your senses.

For those able to make it to The Gardens in November, be sure to sign up for a fabulous greenhouse tour. These behind the scenes tours take place each weekend and provide insights into how we ‘magically’ make things appear year after year.

So even though the gardens appear quiet on the front lines you can be sure we are busy behind the scenes planning and preparing for the beginning of a new year and a new gardening season.

Rick Los
Director of Horticulture

Coming in our next blog:  Garden Report November 20th.