The Butchart Chronicles : March 12, 2014

Garden Notebook for Spring 2014

Spring Season

April 1st - June 14th

Spring Lunch Special
April 1st - April 30th

Pink tulips

We are excited about being in the garden witnessing changes in the landscape on a daily basis.  The temperature continues to rise and the first cherry blossoms appear in March – with the annual cycle of cherry blossoms continuing through May.  Our climate permits a succession of what we consider spring blooming plants to begin in January and carry on into June.  At times it feels like we have an eternal springtime on the west coast of Canada, but spring always seems to end abruptly when the summer heat and dry weather arrives along with the roses, perennials and the tens of thousands of summer bedding plants.

Spring in the Japanese Garden

During the transition from spring to summer we face a challenge to ensure our visitors still see us at the best possible.  Presentation is critically important to us.  Even though the garden may be in transition, every attempt is made to try and achieve perfection – as we see it – and to dazzle our visitors with as much colour and beauty as possible.  We schedule our greenhouse crops (bedding plants) so we can cycle them out into the gardens, when they are blooming, to replace the numerous varieties of spring bulbs as they finish blooming.  This isn’t an exact science, but with years of experience we are able to come pretty close to providing continuous colour in our display borders.  We also grow an abundance of colourful seasonal plants such as Cineraria (Pericallis x hybrid) to fill in the gaps if our timing isn’t quite right.

In any garden, success begins with the health and vitality of the soil.  Each year we do extensive soil testing (after the winter rains end) to ensure we constantly provide our soils with the nutrients and organic matter, critical to maximizing plant health and vigour.  Of course, we are somewhat limited as we can’t possibly test every square meter of garden area, but we do our best to cover as much ground as possible.  I would recommend soil testing for any garden as we all need to be good stewards of the land, especially in areas replanted on a regular basis.  It’s just good practice to regularly replenish soils with compost and the most suitable fertilizer.


Most of the fertilizing and the adding of compost to our shrub and perennial borders takes place in March.  We produce almost all compost we require for our garden by recycling garden waste and green waste from our three restaurant facilities.  We produce hundreds of cubic meters each year.  As an added benefit of our composting program, we also use the finished product in many of our greenhouse soil mixes.

As any garden ages plantings need to be renewed or altered to achieve the desired look.  Much of this can be achieved by a well-planned pruning program, but sometimes even pruning isn’t enough to keep the garden in check.  At times we need to remove plants and replant to ensure the longevity of the garden, and this is a good time of year to do so.  The proper placement of plants in the garden is critical, so I can’t stress enough the importance for all gardeners to take the time to research the best conditions and requirements for any plant.  This is obviously not something you learn overnight, but rather it is a lifelong process involving trial and error by all of us.

Spring at The Butchart Gardens

It’s been 110 years since Jennie Butchart began her gardening adventure on the west coast of Canada and her legacy continues to provide inspiration and pleasure to close one million visitors each year.  As stewards of this horticultural treasure, our gardeners do their utmost to maintain and enhance this stunning creation with the hope of leaving a lasting (and improved) legacy for generations to come.

It is with great pride that we invite you to come and enjoy our garden during this incredibly beautiful time of year.

Spring Plants
Spring Photos of The Gardens