Victoria, July 22, Monday
Garden. Flowers. Garden. FLOWERS!!!!
Butchart Gardens was the big deal today. But not the only deal.
The 8:15 A.M. ferry from Port Angeles was our mode of transit to Victoria. The MV Coho has been plying the 23 mile route between the two cities for fifty years and carries passengers and vehicles. The passage takes 90 minutes plus you have to arrive about an hour beforehand.
An unexpected bonus came before we got on when the Coho docked in Port Angeles and began discharging its load. The first vehicles out were a large number of vintage Ford deuce coupes. Evidently every three years a rally is held in Victoria and hundreds of the 1932 Ford coupes show up. It was a surprising and pleasant experience as many of them are dressed up for show. The ones on the Coho were returning to several stateside locations.
The ride across was smooth but picture-taking was basically non-existent. The marine layer of clouds was at water level until just outside of the Victoria harbor. It lifted as we landed.
our first stop was to tour Parliament in downtown Victoria. The provincial legislature was in session so we did not see the two chambers. Before the tour, two actors portrayed early Victorians. For our presentation, the first woman elected to the provincial Parliament and the architect of the building were the speakers. They gave a quick history of the province through their act. At one point, they asked the audience a question about the importance of 1871 and I (Ed) was bold enough to volunteer the (correct) answer. (1871 was the date of confederation of Canada.) There is some retention left in my memory cells from the numerous museums and talks we have heard.
We drove a scenic road along the waterfront but the fog had returned and made the scenery hidden from us. We stopped in a part of town called Oak Bay (think Highland Village or 50th and France). We walked the Main Street and had lunch at an English pub.
Refreshed, we moved on to Butchart Gardens. They are wonderful. There was a conference in town of perennial plant growers from around the world and they spent much of the day at Butchart. We talked to a gentleman from Modesto, CA who said for many of them, Butchart was like going to Disney World. The garden is so unreal due to the number of annual plants that are changed throughout the year. None of the growers would recommend such a high percentage of annuals as compared to perennials. But the flowers are beautiful and he was taking his share of photos.
We (Chris) asked staff later and they responded that the Garden has over 1,000,000 annuals. Annuals are 60% of the plants, perennials are 40%. Total staffing in the summer is 5-600 people with about 70 of those doing horticultural work.
The gardens are privately owned. The original owners and founders were drawn to Victoria from Ontario and were cement manufacturers. (Cement, not concrete. I am sure you know that cement is but one ingredient in the making of concrete.) The limestone used in the manufacture came from a limestone quarry he owned. As the quarry was depleted, his wife (a chemist and involved in the business also) started making plans to convert the quarry into a garden. As time went on, they expanded the garden’s area and passed it on to their children to run.
We spent several hours touring the site and admiring the flowers. We finished up with a light repast before meeting our Evergreen hosts in Victoria. Despite an early start to the day, we were awake enough to talk with a cup of tea and enjoyed our opportunity to meet them.
Ed and Chris Tuesday July 23 9:30 pm