blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"This is a gentle place"

Jill tells me, "This is a gentle place" and she's right.

Yesterday, Tuesday, the men went flying to Nanaimo and back in John's Comanche. Before they arrived at the airport for takeoff they dropped Jill and me at the entrance to Butchart Gardens, probably the best known tourist attraction of the region. I had high expectations and thought I might be disappointed by it, but I wasn't. We saw it in the middle of the Spring season with all the Spring flowers in bloom, the weather neither too hot nor too cold and the sun breaking through the small clouds. Best of all, it was not too crowded there. The whole site is kept in immaculate condition and the flowerbeds and indoor plants and flowers are artistically arranged. It's a place that appeals to every generation--near the rose garden with its hooped arches children will find a carrousel with whimsically painted wooden animals to ride--and to all the senses. The hyacinths, narcissi and flowering shrubs give off a lovely fragrance and the birdsong and falling water creates peaceful background music. From the path above the Sunken Garden, we saw a rufous-sided towhee perched at the top of a weeping willow and on the hillside watched a yellow-bellied sapsucker pecking a hole in one of the totem poles. The moss on the shaded slopes and tree trunks was damp to the touch and the sunshine felt warm on our skin. There was an open fire in the coffee shop where every little table had a vase of freshly picked daffodils on it.

Back at the house afterwards I made a list of the flowers and plants I'd seen: flowering cherry, winter hazel with catkins, sequoia (giant redwoods), bamboo, forsythia, flowering currant, magnolia, camellia, tulips, forget-me-nots, beech trees, Japanese maples, mahonia, fritillaries, Pasqueflowers, Christmas roses, celandines with dark leaves, primulae, scyllas, crocuses, pansies, black grasses I couldn't identify, azaleas, quince, heather, wallflowers, trout lilies, aubrietia and two kinds of daisies. The beds were tastefully colour coordinated.

Next to the central buildings is an Italian formal garden with topiary, a climbing hydrangea and brightly coloured hyacinths lining the pond; what appealed to me more was the Japanese Garden, all winding paths, steps and pebble rivers, dotted with picturesque rocks and moss topped Japanese stone lanterns like the ones we saw at the temple in Nikko. This part of the Butchart Gardens had a scarlet gateway and a scarlet bridge, with a path of stepping stones leading to it. At the far end of the Japanese garden we came to the edge of Butchart Cove, off Saanich Inlet, with boats moored there. Jill said the trees on the far bank were arbutus.

The oldest part of the gardens is the Sunken Garden created by Mrs. Butchart with the help of ex-quarry labourers on the site of her husband's limestone quarry from 1904 onwards. Its fishpond is 40ft deep in places and a stream below a waterfall down the cliff face feeds into it. At the far end is a dancing fountain.

John and Chris returned to pick us up in the carpark and drove us home, then out again to the gym where I did four laps of the exercise trail, wood shavings underfoot, while the others used the equipment indoors. Chris is doing an unprecedented amount of exercise!

The harbour at Victoria, Empress Hotel in the distance
Today, he and I went out by ourselves, taking the No. 14 bus into the city and back (on the top deck). We also had a short, but eventful ride on a water taxi: the boatman had a misfortune with the mooring rope at one of the docks and fell into the water!  Luckily enough people were around to help fish him out and regain control of the drifting boat till he could get back in, but the poor man was extremely wet and probably very cold too. He said that hadn't happened to him for ten years. He handed the water taxi amd spare passengers to a co-worker. I hope that someone at the Empress Hotel found him something dry to wear.

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