Butchart Gardens, established in 1904, treat visitors to an enchanting floral show that changes with the seasons. Covering 55 acres (22 hectares) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the botanical space is intricately laid out into separate themed gardens with landscaping that impresses and inspires gardeners and nature lovers alike.
Butchart Gardens are a popular spot to visit from Victoria, Vancouver, and even Seattle, either on a gardens tour or combined with a whale-watching cruise, sightseeing tour, or seaplane flight and three-course dinner in the park. As you make your way through the different garden areas—from rose-covered paths to the dramatic Sunken Garden—you can admire blooming bulbs in springtime, head out on the dahlia walk during summer, admire floral displays in gorgeous fall colors, or take in the Japanese-inspired garden in the winter months.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear clothing suitable for the outdoors: dress for the weather, and bring an umbrella or hooded jacket in the rainy months.
- Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the gardens or eat at one of the several onsite restaurants.
- The gardens are wheelchair and stroller accessible.
- You may visit the gardens independently or with a tour guide.
- Though cameras are encouraged, the use of selfie sticks is prohibited.
- WiFi is available at the coffee shop near the visitor center.
How to Get There
Butchart Gardens are 14 miles (23 kilometers) north of Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Vancouver Island, about 30 minutes away by road. Buses run to the gardens from downtown Victoria and the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. You can also take a shuttle bus, taxi, or limo from the Fairmont Empress in Victoria to Butchart Gardens.
When to Get There
Butchart Gardens are open every day of the year. During peak season (July through August), the gardens can get quite crowded between 11am and 3pm. Arrive right at 9am when they open, and you’ll be rewarded with thin crowds and beautiful lighting for your photographs. On summer evenings, the gardens are filled with thousands of illuminations, with fireworks displays taking place every Saturday night in July and August (included in your Butchart Gardens admission). In December, the garden’s Waterwheel Square is converted into an outdoor ice-skating rink, complete with Christmas decorations and lights.
Butchart’s Themed Gardens
You can easily spend a full day exploring Butchart’s six themed gardens: the Sunken Garden, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden, the Concert Lawn Walk, and the Mediterranean Garden. The original Sunken Garden is a must-see, with its deep walls (remnants of the old quarry) cradling beds of annuals, flowering trees, and unique shrubs. Kids will love the hand-carved wooden carousel along the Concert Lawn Walk, just before the rose-laden arches greet visitors on their way into the Rose Garden—be sure to drop a penny in the Wishing Well here. The serene Japanese Garden invites contemplation as you wander along the paths past streams, ponds, and bridges, while the Italian Garden features sculptures and the Frog Fountain, and the small Mediterranean Garden has drought-tolerant plants from areas of the world with climates similar to Victoria’s.