Jennie Butchart had a vision. Faced with a former limestone quarry as her backyard, in 1904 she started a transformation with a few sweet pea seeds and one rose bush.
Today, over a million visitors a year enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Jennie’s work. A Canadian National Historic Site, Butchart Gardens is open year round, much to my enjoyment.
The unusually temperate day of my visit was very quiet, only a handful of visitors relished the zen of the sunken gardens, the culture of the Japanese and Italian gardens and the unexpected pleasures around each bend in what seemed like our own secret garden.
As a spontaneous traveler, I revel in unexpected destinations and make the most of any season and climate.
This pop up trip finds me in vibrant yet quaint Victoria, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, dressed for the occasion in layers.
Nothing gets you in the spirit of winter like a big gulp of crisp Pacific Northwest air.
The benefits of off-season travel also included a quiet day at the Royal BC Museum and an incredible IMAX film “Oceans: Our Blue Planet” narrated by Kate Winslet.
Traditional high tea at the famed grande dame, the Empress Hotel is a must by many visitors, but this girl opted instead to sample pale and amber ales with the working class at some of the UK style pubs. Sliding up to a barstool next to locals is a great source of knowledge and amusement.
Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the 341 foot MV Coho, vehicle and passenger ferry, was a pleasant way to travel with surprisingly calm seas each way, it provided hardly a challenge to keep my Canadian draft ale from spilling while exploring the ship. Boat travel is always my preferable mode of transport, and the return journey on this vintage vessel, which made her first passage in 1959, provided stunning views of Washington State’s snow capped peaks of the Olympic Mountain Range shadowing over Port Angeles.
Victoria, what a lovely gem, I hope we meet again.