Butchart Gardens

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Far more than just another pretty flower arrangement, Butchart is a national historic site and a triumph of early-20th-century gardening aesthetics. With its well-tended blooms, ornate fountains and diverse international flavor (from Japanese to Italian), it’s hard to imagine that this land was once an abandoned limestone quarry. Tour buses roll in relentlessly throughout the summer, but the gardens with their undulating topography are big enough to absorb the melee.

Food outlets and gift shops crowd the entrance, including the Dining Room Restaurant, which serves a smashing afternoon tea.

Butchart is open year-round, although summer is, arguably, the best (and busiest) season to visit: there are Saturday-night fireworks in July and August. The Christmas-lights season from early December to early January is another highlight.

The gardens were the brainchild of Jennie Butchart, whose husband founded the limestone quarry. She began planting and landscaping over the old quarry in 1912. Expanded and manicured throughout the course of a century, the site now counts over one million blooms to cater for its one million annual visitors. Passed down through several generations, the gardens are still owned by the Butchart family.