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Don Taylor | profile | all galleries >> Travel Galleries >> The Butchart Gardens tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

The Butchart Gardens

As Mr. Butchart exhausted the limestone in the quarry near their house, his enterprising wife, Jennie, conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farmland nearby she requisitioned tons of top soil, had it brought to Tod Inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under Jennie Butchart's supervision, the abandoned quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.
By 1908, reflecting their world travels, the Butcharts had created a Japanese Garden on the sea-side of their home. Later an Italian Garden was created on the site of their former tennis court, and a fine Rose Garden replaced a large kitchen vegetable patch in 1929.
Mr. Butchart took much pride in his wife's remarkable work. A great hobbyist, he collected ornamental birds from all over the world. He kept ducks in the Star Pond, noisy peacocks on the front lawn, and a curmudgeon of a parrot in the main house. He enjoyed training pigeons at the site of the present Begonia Bower, and had many elaborate bird houses stationed throughout Jennie's beautiful gardens.
The renown of Mrs. Butchart's gardening quickly spread. By the 1920s more than fifty thousand people came each year to see her creation. In a gesture toward all their visitors, the hospitable Butcharts christened their estate "Benvenuto", the Italian word for "Welcome". To extend the welcome, flowering cherry trees along Benvenuto Avenue leading to The Gardens were purchased from Yokohama Nursery in Japan and installed from West Saanich Road to The Butchart Gardens' entrance.
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