butchart gardens entrance sign - victoria bc

First Timer’s Guide to The Butchart Gardens

Of all the things to see and do on Vancouver Island, British Columbia one of the most well-known Canadian attractions is The Butchart Gardens. Just north of the capital city of Victoria in the beautiful community of Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula, this National Historic Site of Canada has been delighting and inspiring both locals and visitors from around the world for over 100 years. With five distinct, themed gardens and over 50 acres of garden to explore, whether you’re holidaying on the Island or travelling to Victoria for a sightseeing day trip from Seattle, be sure to put a trip to the Butchart Gardens at the top of your list! 

History of Butchart Gardens 

When Robert and Jennie Butchart first came to Vancouver Island from Ontario in 1904, their plan was to build a cement plant on the rich limestone quarry that had been found on the Tod Inlet. In only 2 short years however, the cement production had begun to exhaust the limestone deposits. Jennie, who had always been fond of gardening, began to plan the transformation of the quarry into a marvellous garden. With horse-drawn wagons filled with soil, and Jennie’s careful landscaping, the quarry was slowly transformed into a verdant paradise today known as the Sunken Garden. With the success of this garden, Jennie decided to expand her vision and between 1912, when the Sunken Garden had been completed and 1929, Jennie had created a masterpiece. In the land by the sea, she created the Japanese Garden, on the former tennis courts, the Italian Garden, the Mediterranean Garden thrived in the temperate, west coast climate and the Rose garden quickly overflowed with fragrant blossoms of all varieties. In 1939, Jennie and Robert gifted the gardens to their grandson, Ian Ross who saw great potential for tourism and transformed them into the world-renowned attraction that stands today.  

What You’ll Find at The Butchart Gardens

A visit to the Butchart Gardens is so much more than just a wander through beautiful gardens – it’s a meditative experience that has dazzled visitors for years on end. With meandering paths perfectly placed to provide visitors with the best views and access to over 900 plant varieties, jaw-dropping night illuminations of fireworks and the annual Magic of Christmas plus two restaurants, a coffee shop and gelateria, Butchart is a year-round attraction that is worth the trip.

During the summertime, guests can enjoy the full blooms of the Rose Garden and watch the flower beds in the Mediterranean Garden thrive. Finish your visit with high tea in The Dining Room, let the kids ride on the rose carousel or cool down with a scoop of delicious gelato! 

In the autumn, the Japanese garden glows with the bright red leaves of the Japanese maples, rose hips pop out in the rose garden and the autumnal blossoms shine. After your tour, you can get cozy in the Blue Poppy Restaurant and enjoy some casual comfort food. 

In the winter, the evergreens take centre stage and the gardens are filled with twinkle lights, festive displays and carollers during the Magic of Christmas. Go ice skating on a traditional outdoor rink and warm up with a hot cocoa from the coffee shop!

In the spring, the gardens shine with spring showers and new growth. In the late spring especially, flowerbeds overflow with tulips and dahlias, roses begin to bloom, trees fill with leaves and the garden explodes with new life.  

If you need more information about the gardens, have a look at these sample itineraries so you can plan your visit without missing out! 

How to Get to The Butchart Gardens

From Downtown Victoria 

If you’re staying in one of the convenient EMR locations downtown Victoria, it’s easy to get to Butchart Gardens! Whether you’re driving, taking public transit, or cycling simply click this link and you can plan your route on Google maps. 

From Sooke

Whether you’re staying in beautiful Sooke or Metchosin, the Butchart Gardens is an easy attraction to get to! Have a look at the link to plan your route! 

From Sidney

Sidney is conveniently located right near the Butchart Gardens so if you’re staying at a rental property near Sidney on the Saanich Peninsula, Butchart is a must!  

From the Cowichan Valley

Butchart Gardens might be a bit more of a trek from one of the EMR Cowichan Valley rentals, but it is a day trip worth taking! 

From Other Greater Victoria Locations via Public Transportation

If you’re planning to visit via public transportation from anywhere in Greater Victoria, check the BC Transit site and simply enter your starting point and destination and the handy site will give you detailed instructions.