The Butchart Chronicles : December 1, 2017

Flower and Garden Report December 1st - 7th

Flower and Garden Report December 1st - 7th, 2017

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant

Just like magic, it is Christmas. Thousands of bulbs sparkle and shine as The Gardens are lit up for the festive season. Cedar boughs line the pathways leading the way through the Twelve Days of Christmas walk. Oh, what fun it is!

Christmas classics with a twist instill a festive ambience. Variegated Ilex (Holly) and the scent of Pine are prevalent in The Gardens. Creative winter arrangements flowing with mixed greenery and berries can be found outdoors in cement urns, while approximately 2,200 Poinsettias fill the indoor displays in traditional reds, winter whites and soft pinks.

With all the glitz of Christmas in the air, it is easy to miss the little things that are happening out in the garden. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is in full bloom in The Sequoia Grove, very early colour is about to be revealed amongst our early blooming Rhododendrons. Camellia japonica ‘Kanji’ with its pretty pink single flower has begun to bloom.

It’s all up to Mother Nature now. Mild weather can speed things along or a cold snap can come along and shut down any plans for early bloomers.

The gardening staff have been very busy mulching the Roses, raking leaves and protecting tender plants that are left in the garden all winter. Newly rooted cuttings are potted up in the greenhouses and preparations for the next chapter at The Gardens (Spring Prelude) are fully underway. It seems there is always garden momentum, which is a good thing. It is what keeps the passion for the beloved Butchart Gardens alive. 

Plants, trees and shrubs that are blooming or of interest

  • Anthurium (Flamingo flower)
  • Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Bergenia (Elephant’s ears)
  • Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Camellia
  • Catalpa (Indian bean tree)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Cyclamen
  • Davidia (Dove tree)
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree)
  • Euphorbia pulcherrina (Poinsettia)
  • Garrya elliptica (Silk- tassel bush)
  • Helleborus (Christmas rose)
  • Hydrangea
  • Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)
  • Kalanchoe
  • Jasminium nudiflorum (Winter jasmine)
  • Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (Oregon grape)
  • Medinilla magnifica
  • Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)
  • Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo grass)
  • Orchid
  • Pansy
  • Pieris (Lily-of-the valley shrub)
  • Polyanthus (Primula)
  • Pyracantha
  • Sarcococca (Christmas box)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Viburnum x bodnantense
  • Viburnum tinus
  • Viola
The Butchart Chronicles : November 24, 2017

Flower and Garden Report November 24th – 30th, 2017

Flower and Garden Report - November 24th–30th, 2017

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant


Here we are with just one week left until the official start of what is known as “The Fifth Season” here at The Gardens - Christmas. The anticipation is mounting as the gardens elves work feverishly making sure everything is just right.

With all the excitement of Christmas preparation happening, it is a great time just to take in the buzz of activity, while enjoying the final days of fall. With some leaves still lingering on the deciduous trees and other trees looking a little barren, a definite sense of transition is in The Gardens.

Few flowers are out in the garden at this time of year, making the ones that flower all the more enticing. Pieris japonica (Lily-of-the-valley shrub) can be found all throughout The Gardens with a bounty of attractive pendant, terminal flower heads waiting to burst late winter. Sweet little Bellis (English daisy) flowers can be found amongst the garden beds, while dainty Viola and Pansy flowers brighten up winter containers.

During the walk through the grounds you will pass by some very impressive trees. You will find yourself wondering how tall they are, how old they are and exactly what they are?! In the area known as The Sequoia Grove there are two towering Sequoia sempervirens (Coast redwood) trees. Planted in 1934 as seedlings, the tallest one reaches a height of approximately 170 feet and 22 feet around. Other tall trees on the grounds include six Populus nigra (Lombardy poplar) located along the path exiting the Sunken Garden. Planted in 1910 the tallest one of the six is approximately 165 feet tall!  The beautiful surrounding forest mainly consist of Thuja plicata (Western red cedar), Acer macrophyllum (Big- leaf maple) and Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir).

The Butchart Gardens truly is a gem nestled in one the of the most spectacular places in the world. It is always a good time to visit!

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

•    Anthurium (Flamingo flower)
•    Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
•    Bellis (English daisy)
•    Bergenia (Elephant’s ears)
•    Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
•    Catalpa (Indian bean tree)
•    Cotoneaster
•    Cyclamen
•    Davidia (Dove tree)
•    Erica (Heather)
•    Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree)
•    Euphorbia pulcherrina (Poinsettia)
•    Garrya elliptica (Silk- tassel bush)
•    Helleborus (Christmas rose)
•    Hydrangea
•    Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)
•    Kalanchoe
•    Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (Oregon grape)
•    Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)
•    Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo grass)
•    Orchid
•    Pansy
•    Pieris (Lily -of - the valley shrub)
•    Polyanthus (Primula)
•    Pyracantha
•    Sarcococca (Christmas box)
•    Skimmia japonica
•    Viburnum x bodnantense
•    Viburnum tinus
•    Viola


The Butchart Chronicles : November 23, 2017

Family-Friendly Activities for the Christmas Season

Festive Fun - December 1st to January 6th

The Christmas season means fun for the whole family at The Butchart Gardens. Here are five activities for kids to enjoy when they visit The Gardens from December 1st to January 6th.
Image: travelingislanders.com

1. Bring a Snowflake in Exchange for Hot Chocolate

For children 12 and under, bring us a paper snowflake you have created at home. We will exchange it for a cup of hot chocolate in the Coffee Shop.

  • Snowflake must be made from an 8x11 sheet of white paper and brought from home
  • Limit one per child per day
  • We will put your snowflake on our Coffee Shop windows (space permitting)
  • Valid Dec 1st, 2017 to Jan 6th, 2018
  • Regretfully no substitutions can be made
  • Organized children's groups are required to advise participation when making reservations for the visit.

2. Participate in the Magic of Christmas Walk

Children under 12 years of age will be given a checklist at the admission gate to identify each of the Christmas highlights displayed throughout The Gardens. Upon presentation of their list at the visitor centre, participants will receive a Christmas treat.

  • Limit one per child per day
  • Valid Dec 1st, 2017 to Jan 6th, 2018
  • Not valid for organized child and youth groups

3. Glide Across the Ice Rink

Fun for adults and children, skating underneath soft twinkling lights to the sounds of seasonal music is Butchart Christmas must-do. Skating runs every hour (during admission hours) and runs for 40 minute sessions. Skate rentals are available in the information centre, located across from the rink. See pictures and rates here.

4. Ride the Rose Carousel

Ride around on one of thirty hand-crafted animals on the Rose Carousel, the only carousel on Vancouver Island. Two chariots accommodate accessible requirements.

A portion of the proceeds from the carousel are donated to local children's charities.

5. Listen to Live Musical Entertainment

There's no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than humming along to Christmas music. Every evening, listen to a festive brass band and traditional carollers perform amongst thousands of Christmas lights. These two performance groups rotate every half hour on the stage, located in the Piazza as you begin your walk. No fee or reservations. Simply take a seat and enjoy at your leisure.

We look forward to welcoming you this Magic of Christmas season.

Planning Hints:

  • Budget at least two hours, not including dining
  • Dress warm - it's often cooler at The Gardens than in town
  • Check #ButchartTraffic on Twitter to see if there is any wait at the admission gate
  • If you plan to skate, stop in at the Visitor Information Centre when you first arrive to secure your time. Reservations are not taken prior to arrival to The Gardens
  • The Blue Poppy Restaurant and Coffee Shop are family-friendly environments where you can enjoy a quick meal or warm beverage

Looking for a holiday gift idea? Purchase gifts and gift tickets from our online store.


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!

The Butchart Chronicles : November 23, 2017

2017 The Victoria Royals Skate at The Gardens

Skate with The Victoria Royals at The Butchart Gardens

On Thursday, December 7th, skate with the Victoria Royals on the outdoor skating rink, from 4:30pm – 6:00pm. Meet the players, get autographs, and skate with your favourite players!*

As an added bonus, Marty The Marmot will also be joining us off ice.

Images: 2014/2015 Victoria Royals Skate at The Butchart Gardens

The Victoria Royals skate at The Butchart Gardens





  • Regular skate rates apply
  • If you do not have skates, rentals are available for $3 in the Information Centre
  • Stay after the skate and enjoy a stroll through The Gardens as thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights come to life, which is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit

Read more about:  Christmas at The Butchart Gardens

*Admission to The Gardens is required, skate rates apply

The Butchart Chronicles : November 23, 2017

Chef's Corner: Christmas Recipes

Recipes Directly From The Butchart Gardens' Kitchen

Our culinary team has been busy perfecting festive recipes to serve up this holiday season. Here, they share a favourite dessert recipe, along with delicious and savoury beignets.

This Rye and Ginger Loaf is featured on our Seasonal Tea menu and is easy to make at home.
Recipe: Rye and Ginger Molasses Loaf


These Ham Beignets are part of an entree on the Seasonal Dining Room Dinner menu. They are great on their own or as an accompaniment to pork or ham dishes.
Smoked Ham Beignets

The Butchart Chronicles : November 23, 2017

The 2017 Magic of Christmas Light-Up

Discover all that The Butchart Gardens has to offer during the Magic of Christmas season.

On December 1st, please join us as the switch is thrown to light up our Christmas display. Some of the festivities you can look forward to are:

Watch this video for a glimpse of what you will experience during the Magic of Christmas season.

The Butchart Chronicles : November 22, 2017

Children's Birthday Parties at The Butchart Gardens

Book a Birthday Party at The Butchart Gardens

Picture your child's birthday party without the heavy lifting. Let our planning team take care of the logistics and our culinary team cover the food prep.

Birthday party packages are great value, including:

  • Exclusive use of the Carousel Room for two hours
  • Unlimited carousel rides for the children
  • Children’s admission 
  • Children’s food
  • Birthday cake
  • One chaperone admission for every three children
  • A gift for each child

The Carousel Room (pictured below) is a private room where your party can play games and have the birthday celebration. It is ajoined to the room where the carousel itself is located so children are never far away.

How to book:

  • View the Birthday Party Package for further details
  • Then give our birthday party planner a call at 250-652-4422 ext. 320 or email groupres@butchartgardens.com
The Butchart Chronicles : November 22, 2017

Fresh Finds at The Seed and Gift Store

Fresh Finds at The Seed and Gift Store

Two gift ideas for the holiday season

Christmas is coming! That means shopping for your loved ones. If you're searching for unique gifts, consider our Seed and Gift Store. These two products provide West Coast flare and are a great addition to any home.

1. Thymes "Fraser Fir" and "Pine Needle" Scented Candles

Bring the fresh scents of the forest into your home with these quality candles. The crisp fragrances make thoughtful gifts, or treat yourself.

2. Driftwood Vases

These beautiful vases are a great way to showcase your favourite house plant(s). Each vase is unique, featuring handblown glass and teak wood. Choose from different sizes and shapes in store.

Visit our Seed and Gift Store either online or in person to get a head start on your Christmas shopping.

The Butchart Chronicles : November 17, 2017

Flower and Garden Report November 18th - 24th

Flower and Garden Report November 18th – 24th, 2017

By Thea Hegland, Horticultural Assistant

It’s berry season at The Gardens! This week there are many garden wonders to marvel. Fall favorite, Callicarpa with tiny bead like purple berries brings vibrant colour to the November garden. Clerondendron trichotomum is striking with bright blue berries and pinkish-red calyces. A garden must have, Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree) steals the show with spherical, four-lobed, clustered red fruit surrounding orange seeds.

Other shrubs such as Skimmia, (Japanese skimmia), Viburnum, Cotoneaster, Aucuba, Nandina (Heavenly bamboo) and Ilex also have interesting berries. These shrubs are classic garden staples. They provide excellent structure and are highlights of a winter garden.

Capturing much deserved attention in the garden is Catalpa (Indian bean tree) with its bounty of pendent, golden bean-like seed pods. Almost as if they were expertly hung by the Christmas decorators! With three different specimens located on The Concert Lawn, these are not to be missed.

Viburnum x bodnantense with its heavenly scented rosy-pink flowers can found in The Sequoia Grove, while the alluring fragrance of Sarcococca follows you through the garden paths.

This week the gardeners are busy raking all the leaves that have fallen from our many trees, mulching the Roses and preparing the garden for winter. Greenhouse staff have been designing indoor plant displays for the Christmas season that are sure to impress.

Always evolving, always interesting, always worth a visit!

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

  • Acer (Japanese maple)
  • Anthurium (Flamingo flower)
  • Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Bergenia (Elephant’s ears)
  • Browallia (Amethyst viola)
  • Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Catalpa (Indian bean tree)
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum (Glory bower)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Davidia (Dove tree)
  • Decaisnea fargesii
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree)
  • Garrya elliptica (Silk- tassel bush)
  • Helleborus (Christmas rose)
  • Heptacodium (Seven – son flower)
  • Hydrangea
  • Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)
  • Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (Oregon grape)
  • Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)
  • Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo grass)
  • Orchid
  • Pansy
  • Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston ivy)
  • Polyanthus (Primula)
  • Pyracantha
  • Sarcococca (Christmas box)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Viburnum x bodnantense
  • Viburnum tinus
  • Viola
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