Archive | August 2019

Butchart Gardens

I’m so thankful there are people in this world who can see something in a whole lot of nothing.

Jennie Butchart was one of those people. She looked out over a dug-up limestone quarry and saw a garden.

Painstakingly planted and nurtured by Jennie and her descendants, the Butchart Gardens are the crown jewel of Victoria’s gardens — a city whose nickname is, appropriately, Garden City.

There are four gardens at Butchart, each one unique and each one remarkable. The Sunken Garden was the first to be developed, on the site of the old quarry. As the limestone was exhausted, Jennie began planning her garden. She had top soil brought in by horse and cart and the five-acre garden took nine years to build.

Next to be built were the Japanese Gardens. In the springtime, it is bursting with colour when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. In the fall, the Japanese maples glow orange and red.

The Butchart family’s former tennis court was eventually transformed into the Italian Gardens.

Last to be planted was the Rose Garden. Today, it has 30 rose arches and 280 varieties of roses.

New to me was the Mediterranean Garden — a fifth garden that has been added since my last visit.

My friends and I spent most of a Sunday marvelling at and photographing the flowers at Butchart Gardens. We wondered aloud whether the colour palette of the Sunken Garden changes from year to year. We enjoyed gelato in the Italian Gardens. And we all agreed that the one-year pass is an incredible deal (paid for in as few as two visits) because the gardens need to be seen in all four seasons.

I was a teenager the first time I went to Butchart Gardens, but regardless of whether you see it only once in your lifetime, or you return dozens of times, know this: each visit is as mind-blowing as your first visit.

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Happy Birthday, Canada Line!

Ten years ago today, and three months ahead of schedule, the Canada Line came into service. Built for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, it connects downtown Vancouver to the airport in 24 minutes. (That’s as fast as a taxi and a whole lot cheaper.) Right from the start, it exceeded ridership estimates and is already running nearly at capacity.

The Canada Line has forever changed how I travel to and from Vancouver. Being able to get from my downtown condo to the Vancouver International Airport (known as YVR around town — the name of the Canada Line station is YVR Airport) as quickly as I can for only $2.50 is a traveller’s dream.

It has also forever changed this city. High-density residences and retail spaces that weren’t even dreamed of ten years ago have been built at Marine Drive and are in the planning stages for Oakridge. I saw a quotation this week that pretty much summed up how the Canada Line has changed Vancouver: “you don’t build urban rail primarily for transit, but for shaping growth.”

And so … happy birthday, Canada Line!