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The Butchart Chronicles : November 17, 2015

Garden Notebook - Christmas 2015

This is definitely a delightful time of year in the garden as you can fully appreciate the beautiful structure and layout of the garden. Being a garden, which is famous for being continuously adorned in a rich tapestry of beautiful colours, it’s very rewarding for us to be able to show our beauty actually goes much deeper. What you see at this time of year are the ‘bones’ of the garden that Jennie Butchart so carefully laid out over 100 years ago which really defines and reflects her genius.   

Bones of the Japanese Garden at The Butchart Gardens

It goes without saying that we are continually looking for ways to enhance Jennie Butchart’s exceptional creation. This enhancement occurs on many levels, but I’ll start off by talking about the level below ground – one of the deeper levels that you don’t see. What you don’t see in our display borders are the incredible combinations of carefully planned and planted spring flowering bulbs. These bulbs lie quietly underground, patiently waiting the right conditions to emerge in the spring. It is fascinating to think these bulbs really don’t rest as they are actively growing and developing throughout the winter months. This unseen natural phenomena provides us with one of the most spectacular spring bulb displays that can be found anywhere in the world. 

Planting some of the 200,000+ tulip bulbs at The Butchart Gardens
Okay, maybe some of you are not quite as excited about what takes place below ground as we are, so for you we have something that should certainly get your attention. As many of you know, this past summer we were the proud recipients of a striking, bronze Dragon Fountain from the People’s Republic of China. We had provided the dragon with a beautiful temporary home in our Waterwheel Square; but, the majestic beauty of the dragon demanded an equally impressive permanent home. Adding any significant feature to Jennie Butchart’s garden is always somewhat daunting, but with thoughtful consideration we have located an underdeveloped yet high profile area in which to create the stunning new home. We have just begun the groundwork for this project which will include a unique cascading pool as well as a landscaped area featuring many wonderful plants with origins in China. Look for it on your next visit!

Temporary location of the Dragon Fountain in The Butchart Gardens
Major projects are always exciting for us, but in the garden there are many other essential (and maybe not so exciting!) tasks that need to be completed at this time of year. Our visitors thoroughly enjoy observing our gardeners as they plant with amazing speed and dexterity the tens of thousands of biennials along with the previously mentioned bulbs. Once completed, tasks such as cutting back and dividing perennials, mulching our borders and the light pruning of various trees and shrubs are primary tasks we focus on as we race to stay ahead of our Christmas decorating crews.

Moving indoors, our greenhouses produce thousands of colourful poinsettias to enhance the seasonal décor throughout all our indoor facilities, as well as our show greenhouse. If you haven’t yet had the chance, you must sign up for one of our informative and entertaining greenhouse tours which take place on each weekend during the month of November-there is still space left on the last weekend of the month! Our greenhouses are really the core of our entire operation, so a visit behind the scenes to see them is really a special treat.   

Poinsettias in the greenhouse at The Butchart Gardens
I’ve only provided you with a few threads of information regarding our activities in the garden at this time of year. These few threads form a small part of a rich tapestry that goes well beyond the colourful carpets of floral colour we create each year. To keep this family legacy moving forward, it really requires the efforts of all of our staff on every level – the staff on the front lines greeting you, to the many staff who work diligently behind the scenes who are doing their very best to make your visit an unforgettable one. The interactions between our staff and our visitors creates a special bond and a unique experience that we sincerely hope reflects Jennie Butchart’s vision as well as her desire to share the genius of her ‘Benvenuto’ with the world. 

- Rick Los, director of horticulture