The Butchart Chronicles : June 1, 2014

Garden Notebook for Summer 2014

Garden Notebook:  Summer 2014

Summer is a time to celebrate the colour and creativity of our incredible summer garden display. This is the time of year when we entertain the majority of our visitors and expectations are always very high. Summer in the garden is even more special as it also includes entertainment each evening during July and August as well as our incredible Firework shows each Saturday night. Having more visitors in the garden for longer periods every day is wonderful as we love to share our beauty with as many people as possible, however it also puts extra pressure on the garden (and our gardeners!) to be able keep everything in top shape each and every day.  

Backing up a little bit……the transition from spring to summer has always been a challenge and we do everything we can to try and make this transition appear as seamless as possible. The month of June is considered “grow in” time as we freshly plant each and every display border during the last two weeks of May and the first week of June. To help fill in these ‘colour’ gaps, our exceptional perennial borders provide inspiring combinations of colour, form and texture in a continuous show throughout the summer months. The highlights for these borders during our transition time include our large collection of Peonies and Irises and throughout the gardens a dazzling array of Azaleas and Rhododendrons which help to provide you with enough floral enjoyment to keep your cameras busy during the entirety of your visit.   

If you visit after this time of transition you will be seeing the fruits (or should we say flowers) of what is ultimately a complete garden makeover. Every plant has been grown and staged (staggered planting times) in our greenhouses prior to outdoor planting and bloom times are calculated as best as we can to try to ensure continuous colour. We will even interplant flower beds with short term colour such as annual Stocks (which are also wonderfully fragrant) which, once the main planting starts filling in, we remove them. We go to great lengths to maximize colour in the garden and at times we can be quite ruthless!

Private Garden in Summer

Our summer planting is especially diverse as we showcase the beauty of over 900 unique varieties of plants with an emphasis on providing sensational colour throughout the garden! Not to be overlooked are the numerous hanging baskets and container plantings that have been artfully designed by our talented staff. Making sure we create something fresh, new and fabulous for our visitors is of the utmost importance as we strive to maintain the essence of what Jennie Butchart had in mind.          

Maximizing flower production throughout the summer months is critical for us and to this end our gardeners are continually ‘deadheading’ the thousands of plants in our display borders. Deadheading is essentially the removal of spent flower buds off any plant which blooms – this process not only cleans plants up, but in the case of many annuals (bedding plants), perennials and roses, it also encourages continuous blooms. Some say that deadheading can be quite therapeutic, but with tens of thousands of plants to deal with, our gardeners may beg to differ!     

Speaking of gardeners - if you happen to visit this summer you may have the pleasure of speaking with one of our many talented and knowledgeable gardening staff who work extremely hard to produce this exceptional display. Our staff are always willing to help you with any garden related questions you may have regarding the work they are involved in or any plant you see. Speaking with visitors also allows them a welcome (and hopefully short) break from deadheading, so they are always keen for this kind of interaction!

Kidding aside, if people ask us what makes our garden stand out from others we would have to say that it’s the passion and commitment of our staff. Without these attributes we could not continuously produce a display at such a high standard that focuses on attention to detail in all we do each and every day.

Top Walk in Summer

Highlights in the summer garden include:

  • Our famous displays of tuberous begonias, especially in our begonia bower where you can immerse yourselves in their colour and beauty.
  • The Rose Garden where colourful Delphiniums provide a spectacular backdrop throughout the month of June. The Rose garden continues to be spectacular throughout the summer months with our collection of hybrid tea, floribunda, old-fashioned and Canadian roses. This garden is particularly stunning earlier in the season when the ramblers and climbers are covered in blooms, creating a profusion of colour over and along some of the main pathways.
  • Our fabulous Dahlia border with its abundance of colour and diversity of flower shapes and sizes. Plants can grow up to 10’ tall with flowers well over 12 inches in diameter. This incredible collection of over 600 plants is staged to create a flowing wall of colour.  
  • The Japanese Garden which is especially refreshing as it not only provides a shady escape from the bright sunshine, but also soothes you with its serenity and peacefulness.
  • The Mediterranean Garden with its unique and diverse planting scheme.
  • The Sunken Garden. This is our signature garden and really the showpiece created by Jennie Butchart, revealing her ingenuity and determination to be able to transform an abandoned limestone quarry into what you see today.           

The garden is always an exciting place to visit during our summer months as there are always many new and beautiful plantings to see. We also encourage you to visit with our gardeners to get valuable insight into what we do and how we do it - they love to share their knowledge and to enrich your visit in their own special way.