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The Butchart Chronicles : October 27, 2017

What's New for Christmas This Year?

What’s New for Christmas This Year?

Discover what's being updated for the 2017 Magic of Christmas Display

By Bruce Watson, Director of Arts and Entertaintment

"What's new for Christmas this year?" I often hear this question at this time of year, but from my perspective the Christmas Display is constantly changing. One of our challenges each year is taking our existing Christmas effects and laying them out on the evolving organic canvas that is The Gardens. Shrubs grow, outgrow, or overgrow the effects they sheltered the year before. Trees are removed, or flowerbeds altered, and these changes force us to adapt the show each time we install it. The very nature of The Gardens ensures that that which is the same is never the same.

In addition to our altered landscape we also face the effects of time. Owing to the outdoor nature of our display, Christmas lights, props, and décor are subject to rapid aging in the winter elements and require continual maintenance simply to look like they did the year before. In the Arts & Entertainment department, we are constantly working on refurbishing the Christmas display, shoehorning in tasks throughout the year amongst our work on fireworks, concerts, or garden lighting. We think nothing of attending to a Christmas project, decked out in our shorts in the heat of the summer. For us, Christmas is omnipresent.

One of our big maintenance projects this year was to repair and replace many of the costumes on the “11 Pipers Piping” display. Fabric suffers in the damp conditions of the west coast winter, and after more than a decade out in the elements, the costumes had gathered dirt, worn out where in contact with the regular movement of the marionette strings, and had faded in the (albeit limited) UV light. It was time for the Pipers to refresh their wardrobe.

Some costumes were deemed salvageable and could be repaired, but many had to be replaced. We opted to match the replacements to the original designs as much as possible. Patterns no longer existed from the original construction, so our costumer gathered up the original costumes as templates, took them away for a rebuild, and went fabric shopping. This summer she returned with the re-creations and we roused the Pipers from their summer slumber and subjected them to an entire day of costume fittings.

We needed to make sure the new costumes were the correct size, see how they could be improved to better fit the Piper frames, and to select locations where the marionette strings that control the Piper movements would pass through the costumes, locations that would later be reinforced with grommets. The new costumes shine in comparison to the old costumes and the Pipers are eager to show off their new finery for you this holiday season.

Other “unseen” maintenance upgrades this year include continual repairs to the birds that personify so many of the 12 Days of Christmas, replacing and re-lighting the entire collection of worn-out vine balls, upgrades to the “Eight Maids a Milking” lighting control system, and the addition of LED colour changing lighting fixtures to the Dragon Fountain. Of course there will be new additions as well. New light displays will adorn the Concert Lawn and Rose Garden lawn, along with musical additions to The Gardens and a special display with a nod to Canada’s 150th anniversary.  

With autumn upon us, the Christmas installation is already well underway, the nine-week long installation as regular as the changing of the seasons. Yet, like each autumn season, it is both familiar but never exactly the same. I hope this year’s Christmas display offers you the chance to see something new, or simply brings a change in perspective to your visit.

 
The Butchart Chronicles : October 27, 2017

Flower and Garden Report October 28 - November 3rd

Flower and Garden Report October 28th – November 3rd, 2017

By Thea Hegland

It has been an intense week at The Gardens. Dramatic weather has brought heavy rainfall, wind and some respite. Moments of sunshine are soaked up before the next rainfall. With sun-filled days in the forecast ahead, this is a great time to take a walk through our autumn wonderland.

The gardeners are working to transform the gardens at a rapid pace. With no time to be idle, the pressure is on to plant the spring bulbs and remove tender plants before they succumb to a heavy frost. While the cool weather is critical to the autumn colour on the deciduous trees and shrubs, we must try to keep the garden pendulum balanced.

Highlights this week include the Dahlia border with over 180 different varieties, 11 different classes of Dahlias including Cactus, Waterlily, Decorative and Collarette forms, to name a few. Fabulous shapes and sizes provide our final kaleidoscope of colour before the garden takes a rest from all that glitters.

The autumn leaves shine bright on the trees, offering visitors an incredible experience. On the Concert Lawn, the Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo) has turned a vivid orange. Nearby, the Parrotia persica (Ironwood) has some of the finest fall colour with orange, red, yellow and burgundy leaves. Some of the oldest trees in the gardens are at the entrance to the Japanese Garden. Two prominent Fagus sylvatica purpurea (European purple beech) were planted on either side of that garden entrance in 1906. The Japanese Garden is in its glory amongst the impressive collection of Japanese maples, some which are over 100 years old. Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair fern) softly flow through the garden, creating a magical palate for flowing streams and reflecting ponds.

With endless garden pleasures, it is always a good time to come for a visit!

Plants, trees and shrubs that are blooming or of interest:

  • Abelia
  • Acer (Japanese maple)
  • Anthurium (Flamingo flower)
  • Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Begonia
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Celosia (Cockscomb)
  • Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum (Glory bower)
  • Colchium (Autumn crocus)
  • Cornuscontroversa ‘Variegata’ (Dogwood)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Dahlia
  • Daphne
  • Eounymus alatus (Burning bush)
  • Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree)
  • Fuchsia
  • Gordlinia x grandiflora (Mountain Gordlinia)
  • Heptacodium (Seven – son flower)
  • Hydrangea
  • Ilex
  • Nyssa (Tupelo)
  • Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo grass)
  • Pansy
  • Parrotia (Ironwood)
  • Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
  • Polyanthus (Primula)
  • Pyracantha
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Solanum
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)

 
The Butchart Chronicles : October 19, 2017

Flower and Garden Report October 21st - 27th

Flower and Garden Report October 21st – 27th, 2017

By Thea Hegland

One of the greatest walks of a lifetime is here at The Butchart Gardens during autumn. Amongst the magical trees this historical garden is filled with tradition and timeless classics. The vision that Jennie Butchart had for the land which we roam is nothing short of astounding.

With two intense storms this past week bringing on rain and wind, The Gardens remain beautiful. And quiet. The looming grey sky captures the intensity of the autumn colours creating the most beautiful display of the season. Our world-class collection of Japanese maples is simply breathtaking. With many varieties of Acer palmatum including ‘Dissectum Atropurureum’, ‘Bloodgood’ and ‘Osakazuki’ it is easy to be taken by the wonder of it all.

The eagerly anticipated arrival of our spring bulbs is finally here. Now our 70 gardeners are working full steam ahead to plant the nearly 300,000 bulbs that will transform into the famous spring showcase. The summer display beds are being removed and perennial borders are being cut down for the season. All this work just cleans the space and highlights the beauty of the fall.

Plants, trees and shrubs that are blooming or of interest

  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Acer (Japanese maple)
  • Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Aralia elata (Japanese angelica tree)
  • Aster (Michaelmas daisy)
  • Begonia
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Celosia (Cockscomb)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clerodendrumtrichotomum(Glory bower)
  • Colchium (Autumn crocus)
  • Cosmos atrosanguineus  (Chocolate cosmos)
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Dahlia
  • Eounymus alatus (Burning bush)
  • Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree)
  • Fuchsia
  • Gazania
  • Gordlinia x grandiflora (Mountain Gordlinia)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Heliopsis (Ox eye)
  • Heptacodium (Seven–son flower)
  • Hydrangea
  • Osteospermum (Cape daisy)
  • Pennisetumsetaceum (Purple fountain grass)
  • Punica (Pomegranate)
  • Polyanthus (Primula)
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa daisy)
  • Schizostylis (Kaffir lily)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Solanum
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)

 
The Butchart Chronicles : October 13, 2017

Flower and Garden Report October 13th - 20th

Garden Report October 13th - 20th, 2017

By Thea Hegland

The beauty of art and nature prevail. As the seasons evolve in The Gardens, changes in the flora at the end of the season offer some of the most incredible displays. Perhaps considered one of the best times to visit The Gardens by many, the autumn season boldly paints the garden palette with rich colours and falling leaves. Nestled amongst a picturesque green forest and rolling green lawns, our stunning tree collection is reaching its prime of the season.

Highlights encompass the remarkable collection of eloquent Japanese maples including, but not limited to, Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ and several varieties of Acer palmatum. The brilliant colours that these trees provide harmonize with the idyllic streams and ponds of The Gardens.

Our many other deciduous trees are also of interest at this time of the year. Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree) and Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweetgum) prominently display their stunning fall colours. Simply at its best now is Heptacodium miconioides (Seven-son flower) with its showy rose coloured calyces. Considered a rare outstanding garden specimen, it captures the interest of plant enthusiasts.

Meanwhile our 70 gardeners are busy removing summer beds, planting Bellis (English daisy) and Myosotis (Forget- me -not) as we anxiously await our precious bulbs from overseas to arrive. Tender shrubs and plants are being returned to the safety of our greenhouses before the first frost.

Lingering flowers of summer can still be enjoyed. Framing the Rose Garden, a sea of bright pink ‘Queen Elizabeth’ Roses remains. While the Rose season is clearly fading, there are still some gorgeous Roses to enjoy!

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abutilon (Flowering maple)
  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Angelonia
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Aralia elata (Japanese angelica tree)
  • Arum italicum (Lords and ladies)
  • Aster (Michaelmas daisy)
  • Begonia
  • Callicarpa
  • Celosia (Cockscomb)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clerodendrum bungei (Glory bower)
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum(Glory bower)
  • Colchium (Autumn crocus)
  • Cosmos atrosanguineus  (Chocolate cosmos)
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Dahlia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gazania
  • Gordlinia x grandiflora (Mountain Gordlinia)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus (Perennial sunflower)
  • Heliopsis (Ox eye)
  • Heptacodium miconioides (Seven –son flower)
  • Hydrangea
  • Iochroma
  • Justicia (Shrimp plant)
  • Lobelia speciosa
  • Manettia (Firecracker vine)
  • Osteospermum (Cape daisy)
  • Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
  • Penstemon (Bearded tonque)
  • Punica (Pomegranate)
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa daisy)
  • Schizostylis (Kaffir lily)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Solanum
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)
  • Verbena

 
The Butchart Chronicles : October 6, 2017

Flower and Garden Report October 6th - 12th

Flower and Garden Report October 6th - 12th, 2017

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant

It has been an incredible start to autumn here at The Gardens. Beautiful weather has filled the days with warmth and sunshine while the nights have become cool and crisp. Perfect conditions have set the stage for the radiant fall show; warm reds and golden tones of yellow glow throughout The Gardens with spectacular bursts of colour. Leading you through the peaceful garden paths is the canopy of magnificent deciduous trees.

Ornamental grasses accent borders and mixed container plantings. Hardy Fuchsias light up the flower beds with bold reds and royal purples. Attracting the eye, Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree) is bearing ornamental red fruit with a pretty orange seed pod while the Euonymus alatus (Burning bush) has turned a brilliant red. Our renowned collection of Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) is revealing what autumn is all about at Butchart Gardens. Many of these Maples have graced The Gardens for over one hundred years.

As the days go by the colour in The Gardens intensifies. With Thanksgiving this weekend, it is the perfect time to come for a visit. Bring your friends or family and make a new tradition! From our gorgeous grounds surrounding the parking area to The Japanese Garden autumn colour delights with the Dahlias dazzling in between.

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abutilon (Flowering maple)
  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Angelonia
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
  • Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’(Japanese spikenard)
  • Aralia elata (Japanese angelica tree)
  • Arum italicum (Lords and ladies)
  • Aster (Michaelmas daisy)
  • Begonia
  • Brugmansia (Angels’ trumpet)
  • Callicarpa
  • Canna (Indian shot)
  • Celosia (Cockscomb)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clerodendrum bungei (Glory bower)
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum(Glory bower)
  • Colchium (Autumn crocus)
  • Cosmos atrosanguineus  (Chocolate cosmos)
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Dahlia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gazania
  • Gomphostigma virgatum (Otterbush)
  • Gordlinia x grandiflora (Mountain Gordlinia)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus (Perennial sunflower)
  • Heliopsis (Ox eye)
  • Heptacodium miconioides (Seven –son flower)
  • Hydrangea
  • Iochroma
  • Justicia (Shrimp plant)
  • Leonotis (Lion’s ear)
  • Lespedeza (Bush clover)
  • Lobelia speciosa
  • Manettia (Firecracker vine)
  • Melastoma
  • Osteospermum (Cape daisy)
  • Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
  • Penstemon (Bearded tonque)
  • Punica (Pomegranate)
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa daisy)
  • Schizostylis (Kaffir lily)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Solanum
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)
  • Verbena
  • Vitex (Chaste tree)

 
The Butchart Chronicles : October 2, 2017

Christmas Display Projects

How The Butchart Gardens Prepares for Christmas

12 Days of Christmas - 8 Maid Milking
Some people lament that Christmas comes only once a year. Thankfully so! It takes us at the Arts & Entertainment Department a full year to refurbish, maintain, and update our annual Christmas Display. Another way to look at it would be to say that every day is Christmas at The Butchart Gardens, because we are constantly working on our Christmas display.

A great deal of time and maintenance is required simply to recreate already-existing lighting and scenic elements. Light bulbs and strings need to be checked, replacements ordered, scenery cleaned and repaired, and maintenance projects planned and implemented – all just to maintain last year’s show. Then we have to find time to create new things!

One of our big maintenance projects this year was to refurbish our Eight Maids a Milking display. Over the years, the Maid’s “icy” skin had become brittle and discoloured. To maintain the history of the display, it was decided that the Maids should be refurbished rather than rebuilt. So we set about giving the girls a facelift, or more accurately, a full body makeover. The ladies had their icy coating removed, and then we sent them on a little holiday to Sidney to have their frames sandblasted and repainted. Perhaps you were lucky enough to see the Maids, their naked frames coated in pristine white paint, exalted, joyriding on the back of a truck heading home. Everyone needs a holiday.

8 Maids on the truck back to The Butchart Gardens
Once back on site, our props department set about recovering and recoating the girls with fiberglass cloth and a weatherproof epoxy coating, thus creating their translucent icy-like coating. This process took about two months to complete. We also redesigned how the Maids would be lit, integrating LED light sources into the display to make them less obvious and to introduce coloured light into the display. Now with a new wardrobe and fresh outlook, the Maids are ready to move out of their summer home and pose in the winter garden for you to see. And yet they are still the same Maids, so similar that their makeover may go unnoticed by some, visitors perhaps only noticing that they somehow look fresher and more vibrant than before.

8 Maids - fibreglassing
8 Maids - fibreglassing
Some of our projects are necessary to promote longevity of the display and may not be completely obvious to the viewer, or may actually be intended to be unnoticed. Other items may be more obvious. Our Turtle Doves will also receive a bath and an update this year – along with a new home. Colours will change in the garden lighting along with some décor in the trees. Time permitting, we are also hoping to replace the lighting canopy over our skating rink and update the lighting fixtures in the Ross Fountain.

8 Maids - fibreglassing

Despite our best intentions, some projects need to be deferred because our timeline to work on Christmas is surprisingly brief. All changes need to be complete by mid-September as Christmas installation beings in earnest October 1, taking nine weeks to install. By the time we install, operate, and remove the Christmas display from the Gardens, 1/3 of our calendar year will have elapsed. Any Christmas maintenance, renovation, or creation projects need to happen in the other eight months of the year, squeezed in alongside our work on garden lighting, and while we plan and produce our summer entertainment and fireworks shows. In amongst it all, here and there, day to day, we work on Christmas. Thankfully it is still just once a year.

- Bruce Watson, director of arts and entertainment

 
The Butchart Chronicles : September 29, 2017

Flower and Garden Report September 29th - October 5th

Flower and Garden Report September 29th – October 5th
2017

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant

Some excitement happened here at The Gardens this past week. We recently acquired  a rare intergeneric hybrid tree between a Franklinia and Gordonia known as Gordlinia x grandiflora (Mountain Gordlinia). After last winter’s sad demise of the Albizia (Mimosa tree) in the Japanese Garden, a significant space was left empty providing the ideal location to plant this amazing beauty. With pretty, single Camellia-like white flowers and a light sweet fragrance, this delight from the Southern USA promises to add intrigue to our tree collection.

Adding to the excitement this week, the brilliant purple berries of Callicarpa (Beautyberry) seem to have burst onto the scene with intense presence in The Gardens. While it is located in a few areas in the garden, perhaps one of the best spots is near our two prominent Sequoia trees behind the Dahlia Border. Throughout The Gardens many of the leaves on the deciduous trees have started to change colour, offering a tantalizing tease of what promises to be a glorious fall.

Colour remains strong in The Gardens with the never-ending beds of annual plantings. Our famous Dahlia Border is in its full glory. The perennial borders are still providing significant interest with Heliopsis (Ox eye), Aster (Michealmas daisy) and Solidago (Goldenrod). As part of the perpetual cycle in the garden, our seventy gardeners are preparing for the challenging task of planting all these flower beds with almost 300,000 bulbs that are due to arrive from Holland in early October. Let’s hope the weather cooperates!

The hard work pays off when spring arrives and all the beauty of the Tulips, Hyacinth and Narcissus come into bloom. Until then, it is another great week at The Gardens to come for a visit!

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abutilon (Flowering maple)
  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum  (Monkshood)
  • Angelonia
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
  • Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’(Japanese spikenard)
  • Aralia elata (Japanese angelica tree)
  • Arum italicum (Lords and ladies)
  • Aster (Michaelmas daisy)
  • Begonia
  • Brugmansia (Angels’ trumpet)
  • Callicarpa
  • Canna (Indian shot)
  • Celosia (Cockscomb)
  • Chelone obliqua (Turtlehead)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clerodendrum bungei (Glory bower)
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum (Glory bower)
  • Colchium (Autumn crocus)
  • Cosmos atrosanguineus  (Chocolate cosmos)
  • Crocosmia
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Dahlia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gomphostigma virgatum (Otterbush)
  • Gordlinia x grandiflora (Mountain Gordlinia)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus (Perennial sunflower)
  • Heliopsis (Ox eye)
  • Heptacodium miconioides (Seven–son flower)
  • Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’
  • Hydrangea
  • Iochroma
  • Justicia (Shrimp plant)
  • Leonotis (Lion’s ear)
  • Lespedeza (Bush clover)
  • Lobelia speciosa
  • Magnolia
  • Mandevilla
  • Manettia (Firecracker vine)
  • Melastoma
  • Osteospermum (Cape daisy)
  • Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
  • Penstemon (Bearded tonque)
  • Punica (Pomegranate)
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa daisy)
  • Schizostylis (Kaffir lily)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Solanum
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Sophora japonica (Japanese pagoda tree)
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)
  • Verbena
  • Vitex (Chaste tree)

 
The Butchart Chronicles : September 22, 2017

Flower and Garden Report September 22nd - 29th

Flower and Garden Report September 22nd – 28th, 2017

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant

Summer is changing to fall. You can see it in the surrounding forest, it is evident in the garden. The leaves have begun to change color as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Seasons have their way of naturally evolving and we welcome the change with excitement.

The Gardens are nothing but gorgeous in the autumn. Flower beds filled with Chrysanthemums flow with rich fall color and as the season progresses the deciduous trees turn shades of brilliant reds, vibrant oranges and warm yellows. The rapture of Dahlias is beyond compare. From giant Cactus forms to delicate Waterlily forms, it is easy to spend time lost in total amazement. 

Interesting berries and seed pods can be found around The Gardens. Aronia melanocarpa (Black choke cherry), Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) and Decaisnea fargesii (Dead man’s fingers) all offer significant interest to the fall garden. Hydrangea flower heads are also showy as they get great fall color.

The showstoppers of the week go to the incredible fall displays. Our talented greenhouse staff has been busy building and designing the festive displays in the main patio area and The Show Greenhouse; these displays are not to be missed! Fancy gourds, Pennisetum (Millet) and an incredible selection of unique pumpkins will be sure to bring out your fall spirit. Something about those pumpkins just make you feel good!

Beyond the seasonal display you will find exotic tropical plants and unusual flowering plants in the Show Greenhouse, located between the Blue Poppy Restaurant and the Gallery. Intense form and texture offer bold statements. Be sure to keep your eye on the ever changing display - you will always find the unexpected amongst the tropical jungle!

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abutilon (Flowering maple)
  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum  (Monkshood)
  • Albizia julibrissin (Mimosa tree)
  • Angelonia
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
  • Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’(Japanese spikenard)
  • Aralia elata (Japanese angelica tree)
  • Arum italicum (Lords and ladies)
  • Aster ( Michaelmas daisy)
  • Begonia
  • Brugmansia (Angels’ trumpet)
  • Chelone obliqua (Turtlehead)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clerodendrum bungei (Glory bower)
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum( Glory bower)
  • Colchium( Autumn crocus)
  • Cosmos atrosanguineus  (Chocolate cosmos)
  • Crocosmia
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Dahlia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gomphostigma virgatum (Otterbush)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus (Perennial sunflower)
  • Heptacodium miconioides ( Seven –son flower)
  • Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’
  • Hydrangea
  • Iochroma
  • Justicia (Shrimp plant)
  • Lagerstroemeria (Crape myrtle)
  • Leonotis (Lion’s ear)
  • Lespedeza (Bush clover)
  • Lobelia speciosa
  • Magnolia
  • Mandevilla
  • Manettia (Firecracker vine)
  • Melastoma
  • Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
  • Penstemon (Bearded tonque)
  • Punica (Pomegranate)
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa daisy)
  • Schizostylis (Kaffir lily)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Sophora japonica (Japanese pagoda tree)
  • Streptocarpus (Cape primrose)
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)
  • Verbena
  • Vitex (Chaste tree)
  • Zinnia

 
The Butchart Chronicles : September 18, 2017

Garden Notebook - Autumn 2017

Garden Notebook – Autumn 2017

By Rick Los, Director of Horticulture

Sunken Garden, early autumn 2016

As I started putting my thoughts together about what I was going to write for you, I came across something that I wrote a couple of years ago at this very same time. It was amazing how my feelings were exactly the same as I feel now and I have to admit that even after 20 years as the Director of Horticulture, I’m always relieved that we (the gardeners and the garden) survived another summer!

If the garden had the ability, I’m sure that it would follow the lead of our gardeners and let out a sigh of relief as we are able to take a break from the overwhelming demands of summer. The demands that I’m talking about come in many different forms and I feel obligated to mention some of them before we proceed to the autumn season.

As many of you know, we welcome the vast majority of our visitors during the months of June through September. Expectations from our visitors during the summer months are typically very high and although we cherish that challenge, the pressure to keep the garden looking its absolute best can be very demanding.

I’ll start with the lawns as they are probably the most overlooked feature in our garden. To begin with, there are over 60 concerts that take place in the gardens during July and August, which means that the lawns have to endure that many consecutive nights of heavy traffic. Adding to that pressure on the lawns are the 10 fireworks shows that draw thousands of visitors each Saturday night, and due to the sheer volume of these crowds, they are at times squeezed off of the lawns and pathways and into some of our display borders.

One of the over 60 concerts that takes place on the Concert Lawn over the summer

To be sure, visitors are not the only ones responsible for damaging the plants as the onslaught of pests and diseases that are part of the joys of the summer garden also need to be carefully managed. One final challenge that I should mention are the added demands on our irrigation systems and water supply as the frequency of summer drought conditions has been increasing.

Thankfully our gardeners are very resilient and are experts on the daily preservation, restoration and revitalization of the garden. Each morning they take the tired garden and somehow breathe new life into it to revive it and make it look breathtaking. All in all, summer is an endurance test for us and there is a certain sense of elation when the crowds thin out, the weather gets cooler and the refreshing rains return.

Speaking of being elated – one of the highlights that we are delighted to see in the garden at this time of year are the magnificent Dahlias. Since I’ve focused so much on challenges, I will admit that this had to be the most challenging year in our history to try and get our Dahlias to perform (or even to grow at all!) From the beginning rooting stages in the greenhouses to the viral attacks outdoors, it seemed that the poor Dahlias were destined for disaster! However, as always seems to be the case, our determined staff persevered and were able to cleverly manage the situation to the point where right now our visitors would never even know that we had any issues with these plants at all. Looking at the current health of the plants myself, I find it hard to believe that we endured any of the struggles that we did.

The Dahlia border is home to over 600 plants

Dahlias are exceptional in that they provide the widest and wildest assortment of flower colours, shapes and sizes of any plant that we grow. The plants themselves can also be massive as some grow to heights of over 10 feet tall! This is truly a plant that must be seen to be appreciated and with our main Dahlia border containing over 600 plants, this border is a key component of our early fall display.

At this time of year not all of the colour in the garden is provided by flowers and it could be argued that perhaps the most brilliant colour comes from some of our trees. One tree in particular that adds stunning visual interest to the fall landscape is the Japanese maple. In my mind, there is no plant that can match the versatility and year-round beauty of the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum).  These undemanding and durable trees come in many different shapes and sizes, but it’s the sensational fall colour that really sets these trees apart. Japanese maples are loved by gardeners and by plant breeders alike, and at last count there were over 700 named cultivars of these unique trees. We also dearly love these trees and are quite proud of the fact that our garden is home to some of the oldest and largest Japanese maple trees in Canada.

Japanese maples showing off thir vibrant fall colours along one of the pathways

Autumn is an extremely busy time in the garden and the biggest project for us is the replanting of the multitude of display borders with biennials and bulbs. Although the overall planning is finely tuned, the actual scheduling of this planting process is generally determined by when the summer plantings collapse. In essence, even though we like to give ourselves the credit, it’s really Mother Nature who guides our daily decisions. Our fall planting consists of close to 300,000 bulbs which are planted among tens of thousands of colourful biennials such as English daisy (Bellis), Forget-me-Not (Myosotis), Wallflower (Cheiranthus) and Pansy (Viola). We do get some colour from these plantings from November through February, but the real excitement takes place from March through May in what many consider to be the most magnificent spring floral display in the world.

It’s a bit of an irony to think that as we are planting the garden we are also harvesting our compost piles. Many people would be totally unaware that we harvest any kind of crop at all (besides flowers), but a few years ago we came up with a brilliant idea to plant a cover crop of pumpkins and gourds on our massive piles of compost. This was obviously a match made in heaven as the pumpkins thrived on the warmth and abundance of nutrients from the compost. However, what is especially beneficial to us is that pumpkins and gourds are allelopathic, which is to say that they inhibit other plants (read weeds) from growing amongst them. The final result for us is a (almost) weed free compost pile with the bonus of a bumper crop of a ridiculous variety of unconventional, conventional and novelty pumpkins and gourds that we use in various displays around the property.

Gourds and pumpkins grown in the compost, being used in an autumn display

So even though this may appear to be a quieter season, there is still plenty of activity in and around the garden. As always, we invite you to come out and experience all that we have to offer during this very special season – the season where the garden transitions from the spectacular colour and warmth of summer to softer tones and coolness of the autumn season.

 
The Butchart Chronicles : September 15, 2017

Flower and Garden Report September 15th - 21st

Flower and Garden Report September 15th – 21st, 2017

By Thea Hegland

The timeless beauty of The Butchart Gardens leaves you spellbound. I know. I caught the feverish excitement about the legendary garden before I ever came to visit.

Both of my beloved grandmothers held it in high regard. It was the place to bring relatives and visitors from out of town to impress – that was certain. Over tea (special tea from Butchart Gardens) there were tales about the beautiful scented Roses, lavish Begonias and the bluest Delphiniums ever seen. The Butchart Gardens calendar was very important. I devoured the pages and longed to visit one day. Finally, my mother brought me and my lifelong bond with The Gardens took hold.

That hold is contagious. The 12 Month pass holders are just as passionate about The Gardens. They come often and bring guests from all over the world to share the experience. It is a very special place we are all proud of. Word travels far and wide and pictures capture the beauty but nothing compares to the feeling you get when you are here.

These days are buzzing with activity. Visitors are coming into The Plant Identification Centre with many complex questions. With so many wonders of the garden to peak interest, it’s a great service to take advantage of. Behind the scenes greenhouse staff are busy taking a variety of cuttings to propagate in our greenhouses for next year’s display. These cuttings include a variety of Geraniums, Heliotrope, and Fuchsia that account for about 10 percent of our total plants for next season.

The Gardens are simply not ready to rest. The Brugmansia (Angels’ trumpet) has burst into full glorious bloom. Dazzling peach trumpet-shaped, night-scented flowers have never looked so good.  Located on the Top Patio in containers, you will be sure to be impressed. The Dahlia Border is bold and blazing with colorful blossoms. The tropical Hibiscus plants are brightly shining in mixed containers while the hardy Hibiscus moscheutos (Common rose mallow) are catching the eye.

I hope you enjoy The Gardens!

Plants that are blooming or coming into bloom

  • Abutilon (Flowering maple)
  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum  (Monkshood)
  • Albizia julibrissin (Mimosa tree)
  • Angelonia
  • Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
  • Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’(Japanese spikenard)
  • Aralia elata (Japanese angelica tree)
  • Arum italicum (Lords and ladies)
  • Aster ( Michaelmas daisy)
  • Begonia
  • Brugmansia (Angels’ trumpet’)
  • Cephalaria (Giant scabiosa)
  • Cereus ‘Queen of The Night’ (Night blooming cactus)
  • Chelone obliqua (Turtlehead)
  • Clerodendrum bungei (Glory bower)
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum( Glory bower)
  • Clethra (Summersweet)
  • Colchium( Autumn crocus)
  • Cosmos atrosanguineus  (Chocolate cosmos)
  • Crocosmia
  • Dahlia
  • Fuchsia
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus (Perennial sunflower)
  • Heptacodium miconioides ( Seven –son flower)
  • Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’
  • Hydrangea
  • Iochroma
  • Justicia (Shrimp plant)
  • Lagerstroemeria (Crape myrtle)
  • Leonotis (Lion’s ear)
  • Lespedeza (Bush clover)
  • Lobelia speciosa
  • Manettia (Firecracker vine)
  • Persicaria (Knotweed)
  • Punica (Pomegranate)
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa daisy)
  • Schizostylis (Kaffir lily)
  • Sophora japonica (Japanese pagoda tree)
  • Streptocarpus (Cape primrose)
  • Tecoma
  • Thalictrum (Meadow rue)
  • Tibouchina (Glory bush)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad lily)
  • Verbena
  • Vitex (Chaste tree)
  • Zauschneria ( California fuchsia)
  • Zinnia

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