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The Butchart Chronicles : November 23, 2017

Garden Notebook - Christmas 2017

Garden Notebook - Christmas 2017 Edition

By Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

Thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights welcome visitors

Christmas season is upon us once again and it seems like a wonderful time to reflect on some of the recognition that we received as a garden during the past year. Truth be told, this time of year always causes me to be in a more reflective mood – maybe it’s the fact that the demands of the garden have diminished as it’s now in its most restful state or maybe it’s simply because the amount of daylight has dwindled, causing us to spend more time indoors rather than out in the garden. Or maybe there’s just something about the season itself – the mystique of the season should cause us to reflect and be grateful as well as to look forward in anticipation of good things yet to come. So, let’s begin.....  

Honours were bestowed upon the Gardens early in the year as we had been selected to be the showcase garden at the International Rose and Flower show in Tokyo. We usually don’t strive to be in any kind of spotlight outside of our own garden, but this couldn’t be avoided as a spectacular show garden was designed and built for this show to honour us. This garden was the main feature in a garden show that attracts close to 250,000 people each year. We were humbled by the attention and admiration that we received from both the Japanese media and from the beautifully warm Japanese people who were genuinely appreciative of what we do.    

Recognition is not something that we actively seek, but being recognized for excellence in what we do is a distinction that is always appreciated – especially by our staff who strive to achieve this each and every day. This year we were honored by being named the ‘Tulip Garden of the Year’ at the International Tulip Summit held in Ottawa. Being selected for this prestigious award from many entries representing gardens from over 20 countries was quite an honour indeed. Now that you have read this I’m hoping that you will be enticed to come out in the spring time and see why we were chosen!

Inspirational is a term that we often hear associated with our garden and it is always rewarding for us to hear how we may have impacted our visitors in a positive way. Not surprisingly, our Rose Garden is the highlight for many of our visitors and this year our Rose Garden has been nominated for the ‘Award of Garden Excellence’ from the World Federation of Rose Societies. This is an incredible honour and is a tribute to our Rose Garden staff and especially to the supervisor John Hill. John has been responsible for the care and maintenance of our Rose Garden for 23 years and his passion and expertise in this field are second to none. John is one of the many staff who have devoted their lives to this garden with whom we are truly blessed.

One of the beautiful Roses located in the Rose Garden

Significant as these awards may be, our focus always remains on how we can achieve being the absolute best that we can be each day of the year – and if possible – how can we do things even better the next time around. One of the challenges that we face is that many of our dedicated staff are getting towards the ends of their working careers. I don’t think that I have ever mentioned this in an article before, but the combined years of service for our gardening staff is 1315! Yes, you read that correctly – One Thousand Three Hundred and Fifteen! What’s even more remarkable is that we have 2 staff members who have served the company for well over 50 years! These are significant statistics and they reflect the devotion, commitment and loyalty of our staff.            

Time to take you back to reflect on the garden itself! I do love the simplicity and tranquility of the winter garden with its unassuming and understated beauty. The multi-faceted structure of our garden is clearly evident in the winter and this is the time to truly appreciate the imaginative and creative design of the garden. The next time you visit in winter, spend some time in the Japanese Garden and take time to view the fascinating structure of the many trees that are planted there - you may be surprised by how captivating this garden truly is during the winter months.    

Tranquil Japanese Garden in the winter months

Much is always said about the outdoor garden and many tend to overlook the incredible indoor displays that we create. A highlight at this time of year is definitely the show greenhouse which was almost completely refurbished last winter. We have been extremely pleased with the exciting new displays that have been implemented throughout the past year and we are even more excited for next year as we continue to push the limits as to what can be achieved in such a compact environment. At this time of year, you will find traditional displays of Poinsettias creatively combined with a stunning array of exotic plants.   

Acknowledging the contributions of our staff is obviously very important to us and I think that it’s equally important to acknowledge our visitors who continue to support us. Your loyalty and patronage provide us with the means to continue on with this incredible legacy that Jennie Butchart first created. Furthermore, the positive feedback that we receive from you continues to encourage, motivate and inspire us – so we thank you for your support of what we do, it truly means a lot to us.

Success is something that we never take for granted and it will forever remain our goal to provide you with a truly inspirational garden experience in every season. We have come to the end of another year, another season, but yet it is really a new beginning. Whatever your faith or whatever your fancy, this is truly a time for hope and a time for new beginnings. As we reflect on a garden that now lies resting, may you also find rest and may you feel a special peace; a peace that refreshes and renews your soul.

The Rose Arch dressed up for Christmas during a rare snowfall

Merry Christmas!