Stop and smell the roses at the incredible Butchart Gardens

Victoria’s Butchart Gardens is a historical and breathtaking botanical paradise

by Susan Hughes
The Sunken Garden was the original garden site in 1904.
The Sunken Garden was the original garden site in 1904. — Photo courtesy of Butchart Gardens

You don’t have to be a gardener to admire the stunning and vast beauty of Victoria’s Butchart Gardens. And once you know the story behind how the gardens got their start, you’ll be even more in awe of this intoxicating botanical paradise that was named as one of the 14 World’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Condé Nast Traveler.

Located just 25 minutes (14 miles) north of downtown Victoria in the community of Brentwood Bay, this is a must-stop on your list of great outdoor places to explore when you tour southern Vancouver Island. If you really want to get the most out your visit, book time to see the gardens both during the day and at night, as you’ll experience an explosion of colour by day and romantic, softly lit garden pathways at night.

The property where the gardens are located was purchased in the early 1900s by Robert and Jennie Butchart, and their purchase included an unsightly abandoned limestone quarry. It was in 1904 that Jennie Butchart decided to take on a challenge and start working at transforming the leftover quarry into a garden. It’s truly incredible to see, almost 109 years later, a garden that has spread over 55 acres and boasts over 700 varieties of plants.

At the site of the original quarry you will find the aptly named Sunken Garden, which Jennie Butchart completed around 1921. Today, the Sunken Garden remains lovingly preserved and flourishes with a bounty of spectacular blossoms and foliage.

What a lovely thing a rose is!

Graham Bell of Butchart Gardens public relations said there are approximately 300 varieties of roses on display in the gardens, in every colour imaginable. Bell also said that there are roughly 300,000 bulbs planted that come to flowering life each spring. For maximum color, Bell suggests visiting late April to early May, while July and August, he said, “offer all colours in full bloom, along with our very popular and spectacular firework displays each Saturday night throughout the summer.”

Fall brings an incredible array of colors, when the Japanese Gardens are full of golds and ambers and fiery red Japanese maples as well as numerous varieties of dahlias and chrysanthemums.

The details

After your stroll through the gardens, stop in and relax for food and drink at the on-site coffee shop and restaurant. Or experience a bit more of the gardens in the dining room, where you can enjoy West Coast fine dining and let your eyes feast on the incredible views.

Due to the warm Pacific Coast climate, Butchart Gardens are open year-round starting at 9 a.m., with closing times varying according to the season. There is easy access from both the Victoria International Airport and Highway 17 (Pat Bay Highway), with plenty of highway signs pointing you in the right direction. The large parking lot easily accommodates all vehicles, including RVs and tour buses, with free daily parking.

For more information, visit or call toll-free at 1-866-652-4422. And if you’re ready right now to come for a visit, set your GPS for 800 Benvenuto Avenue, Brentwood Bay, British Columbia.

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