Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rhapsody of the Seas in Victoria, BC

Did you know that butterflies enjoy nibbling on bananas? I didn’t until the last day of my recent Rhapsody of the Seas Alaska cruise when I visited the 12,000 square foot Victoria Butterfly Gardens for the first time.

Designed to showcase the life cycle and free flight of tropical butterflies and moths, inside the enclosure is a flowering paradise filled with color and scents. Stars of the show are the butterflies—3,000 of them flutter amongst flora that includes 200 species of orchids. However, there are also tropical ducks, flamingos, and Koi swimming in the stream and pond and rare tropical birds inhabit the space as well. The focus is educational and guides are on hand to explain the butterfly’s habits—including when one laid an egg on a fellow tourist’s camera. The egg was gently removed to be placed in a special area set aside for that purpose.

While admission to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens allows visitors to come and go as they please to witness the changing activities of theses lovely creatures throughout the day, our tour group from Rhapsody of the Seas was off to our next stop—Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site of Canada.

Still privately owned by family descendants of Robert Pim and Jennie Butchart, the Butchart Gardens houses an incredible floral display on 55 acres of land.

Let’s start with a a bit of history—in 1888, Robert Pim Butchart began manufacturing Portland cement and by the turn of the century he was drawn to the Canadian west coast by the rich limestone deposits located there, which were necessary for cement production. After building a factory at Tod Inlet on Vancouver Island, he and his family established their home there in 1904.

View from the Butchart Dining Room
When the limestone in the quarry near their house was exhausted, Jennie began to refurbish the bleak pit a little at a time until the former quarry blossomed into a spectacular Sunken Garden. Later, the Butcharts created a Japanese Garden, an Italian Garden, and a refined Rose Garden. Word of Mrs. Butchart’s gardening skill spread and by the 1920s more than 50,000 visitors stopped by each year to see them. A stroll through the gardens today is a breathtaking experience that keeps 50 gardeners busy on a daily basis.

Tea in the Butchart Dining Room
Upon our arrival, we enjoyed tea in the Butchart’s family dining room and began our tour of the incredible gardens.

I’ll let the gorgeous plantings and flowers speak for themselves. Pictured here are some of my favorite garden views.

The Sunken Garden

Fountains Amid the Foliage

Colorful Flower Beds

A Bee Pollinating Yellow Rhododendron

Morning Dew on Orange Rhododendron

Photos ©

1 comment:

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