Our last day of gardens on Vancouver Island turned out to be a high point. We started the day at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific. This educational garden is maintained by 10 month student interns who learn how to garden as a trade before spreading out to work in the many gardens around Vancouver Island (Victoria touts itself as "City of Gardens"). The gardens were quite lovely with about 30 theme gardens from bogs to Japanese gardens, vegetables, and fuchsia collections. The garden art was quite nice throughout the grounds.
The final garden was The Butchart Gardens, a must-see for any visitor to the island. The hanging baskets, color plantings, and general exuberance of the gardens make this a great place to visit for both gardeners and non-gardeners alike. I appreciated some of the more understated areas like the Japanese Garden where moss and ferns gave a serene, green look.
Apparently tours are not allowed at Butchart Gardens (they even explicitly prohibit guided tours on the tickets) but the JC Raulston name once again paid off. We were given a private tour by Rick Gordon who has been working at Butchart for 30 years. Despite his length of service, this was Rick's very first tour - which he led excellently I should add. He told us that they will give maybe 10 or so guided tours a year. We even got to peak into the greenhouses where they produce their fantastic plants.
Our Great 70 Degree British Columbia Getaway has been a phenomenal trip with a great group of people, exquisite gardens, and knowledgeable guides. I can't wait for the next trip.
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Check out all the happenings at http://www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum