September 14, 2015: Seeing clearly and wandering blissfully

What a glorious day I had, marveling yet again at the astounding beauty of God’s floral and arboreal handiwork and at the creativity of those who care for it! After a granola breakfast, I packed a day bag and walked a little less than a mile to the stop where I hoped to catch the No. 81 bus for a direct ride to the world-famous Butchart Gardens at Brentwood Bay (, about eight miles (and somewhat over an hour’s bus ride) south from the North Saanich Yacht Club’s docks. I had a lovely walk, on an absolutely splendid morning, past palatial, fastidiously-landscaped, recently-built homes whose “back yard” private ramps and floats and yachts I’d seen while strolling around the yacht club’s docks on Wednesday.

The bus was scheduled to arrive at 11 am and I was at the stop at 10:40, so I waited, and waited, and waited some more, and by about 11:15, no bus had come from any direction. At last a bus No. 72 came along going the other way, so I spoke briefly with the friendly driver, who said that the No. 81 should be along any minute, but if he came back at 11:35 and found me still waiting, he would take me to a stop where I could transfer to the No. 75 bus, which runs to the Gardens. The next No. 81 bus wasn’t due to arrive until just after noon, and I would have a long wait indeed. I told him I would watch for his return, and off he went. I continued to wait in the toasty morning sun, and I was still at the stop when the No. 72 came back. I bought a day-pass from the driver and we traveled through downtown Sidney and part of the way to the Gardens, where another woman and I disembarked at a transit shelter where another bus, marked “Out of Service,” was parked, so that we could pick up the No. 75. The other passenger, a teacher from Toronto who is on sabbatical, and I struck up an enjoyable conversation about our many positive Canadian experiences, and I accepted her condolences on having to return to the US soon.

Suddenly, my conversation partner noticed that the parked bus now displayed a “No. 75” electronic sign, so we scrambled aboard and continued to chat during our ride, past farms, dairies, orchards, vineyards, open fields, and forested hills to the Gardens, where we arrived at about 12:15 pm. (Those of you who have visited the Gardens and probably know as much or more about them than I do may skip to the next paragraph). I purchased my ticket, and, on a “perfect” afternoon (the cerulean sky was cloudless, the breeze was light and amorous, and highs hovered around 75 degrees F. in the full sun), I spent the next six hours wandering through a wonderland of fabulous flowers arranged EVERYWHERE in every way: in beds, pots, planters, tubs, hanging baskets, vases, and window boxes, over arches and on trellises, along parking strips, and even in attractive clusters on the tops of all the trash cans!). The Gardens also contain all sort of trees, shrubs, ferns, mosses, etc., together with fountains, pools, and water courses. Visitors tour the sunken garden, the bog garden, the Japanese garden, the rose garden, the Italian garden, the Piazza, the relatively-new Mediterranean garden, and the waterwheel square surrounded by restaurants and shops (housed in buildings that were originally the Butcharts’ enormous, sprawling mansion and its out-buildings). The 55-acre garden complex also includes the star pool, the Rose Carousel in a large circular building, cute moss topiaries (animals made of moss attached to wire frames) here and there, the fireworks viewing lawn (Saturday nights in July and August), the nursery beds, the outdoor concert stage, the Tod Inlet boat dock (from which 45-minute boat tours of Butchart Cove depart throughout the day), the “pipe organ house” (that contains a working theater organ), the apple orchard, the “photo room” (that contains a small, very colorful display garden “sampler”), photos of the 130-acre Butchart property before, during, and after its limestone quarries (the basis of the Portland cement industry that made the Butcharts incredibly wealthy) were transformed into gardens in the early 1900s. Here are a few photos I took, but a visit to the website provided above will give you a better idea of the incredible work of art and source of gardening expertise and support that is the Butchart Gardens, visited by over a million people each year.

Butchart Gardens: Rose Garden 2
View over a portion of the rose garden
Butchart Gardens: Japanese garden
One of uncountable beautiful views in the Japanese garden


Butchart Gardens Tod Inlet behind flowers
You can glimpse Butchart Cove in Tod Inlet across a swath of flowers in the Italian garden

I met and chatted with some fine folk over the course of the day, treated myself to a waffle cone filled with wild honey lavender gelato (Mmmmmm–great!), and browsed the gifts-and-seed store, where I watched a video about the gardens in all the seasons of the year and about the award-winning summer fireworks displays set off above a fountain in a large pond, choreographed for many years by the late Christopher Ross, a great-grandson of the Butcharts. I caught the 6:30 bus No. 75 back toward Sidney, changed for the No. 71 that arrived at the transfer stop before the No. 72, and enjoyed the ride and walk back to the yacht club’s docks, arriving at about 7:30 pm. Walt had ridden the folding bicycle into downtown Sidney in the afternoon, picked up his new spectacles (YAAAY!), and biked back (bringing with him the new glasses and a sore bum!), and we shared “happy hour” chips and dip and the events of our day (I had a great deal to say, of course, and Walt had little, apart from noting and appreciating his being able to read his laptop’s screen at last!). We had a very late bagel sandwich supper, after which I straightened up the galley and cabin, caught up with my e-mail writing, and began this post. I was sufficiently tired from the day’s walking that it didn’t take me very long to fall asleep as visions of flower gardens and fountains danced in my head!

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