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Vol. 21 No. 3 - July 2015

Butchart Gardens: An Example for Positive Socio-Environmental Transformation

By: K. Basu1 and W. Cetzal-Ix2

The Butchart Gardens is a National Historic site of Canada with majestic floral display established as early as 1904, in the Saanich peninsula of the Vancouver Island of the province of British Columbia. The garden was established by an industrialist couple named Mr. Robert Butchart and Ms. Jennie Butchart after they moved from eastern Canada in pursuit for adequate supply of limestone for their thriving Portland cement industry. They bought and started operating an open cast limestone mine here for supplying raw materials for their cement factories. However, when the mine was exhausted and abandoned after repeated quarrying for the industrial pursuit the couple decided to transform it into an exquisite garden. They also hired several internationally reputed landscape designers from the early 20th century period for designing different parts of the mine-garden commonly called Sunken Garden and further expanding and beautifying it. Till date, the Butchart family operates and manages the garden that has stood the test of time for almost over a century. The garden is a major tourist attraction for Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Butchart couple is duly credited for transforming a degraded and abandoned limestone quarry into a beautiful Sunken Garden, over the years. Other family members have continued in further expansion and maintenance of the garden after their death. The garden has a collection of both local and exotic collection of colorful ornamentals, herbs, shrubs, trees, small meadows, bushes and grooves intricately designed within a span of 55 acres. The garden is an example of human ingenuity in converting a polluted and abandoned mining site into a place of beauty, knowledge and recreation.

Highly experienced group over 50 specially trained gardeners maintain the garden and are responsible for the global reputation of this floral paradise. The garden remains operational all round the year round with flowers, foliages and blooms changing color over the five local seasons giving spectacular hue and diversity to the garden and mesmerizing million plus annual, local and foreign visitors to the park alike. It has been designed through intelligent and aesthetic landscaping into a central Sunken Garden with concentric lawns from an abandoned limestone mine. Inside the gardens other specialized gardens that are admired by plant lovers and enthusiasts include the Mediterranean Garden, Rose Garden, Perennial borders, the Italian Gardena complete with a gelato stand and the Japanese Garden with cross shaped pond. Additional attractions include Children's Pavilion, Rose Carousel, the colossal 70 ft Ross Fountain and several internationally reputed art works from across the world such as bronze Sturgeon Fountain cast, statue of Mercury, Piazza and the statue of boar and aboriginal Canadian art forms. The mini-boat ride in summer for the kids around the Todd inlet along with tour of the greenhouse, evening entertainment, exquisite night illuminations, photo gallery, the Saturday firework show and eco-friendly and electrically operated boat tours are some of the delights for the visitors. The garden stands as a hallmark of human ingenuity and aesthetics for transforming their polluted local environment into a positive socio-environmental (positive changes contributed to the society through environmental transformation) contribution.


1UFL, Lethbridge, AB, Canada; 2CICY, Mérida, Yucatán, México, [email protected]

This article has been reproduced from the archives of EnviroNews - Newsletter of ISEB India.

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