June 13, 2015
This past Wednesday our crew was treated to a wonderful sunny afternoon, to try out our Raincoast Adventure Package. Our morning began in front of the Empress Hotel where we boarded the CVS English style double-decker bus en route to the Saanich Peninsula. Our tour was guided by Dave a very knowledgeable driver. He informed us of many historical and cultural points along the way.
Our first stop was at the lush tropical jungles of The Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Kurtis, our biologist tour guide, introduced us to the very chatty flamingos, parrots and other feathered residents of the gardens. We were amazed at how many more creatures than just Butterflies there were. We learned about how the Mimosa plant (shy plant) eludes the butterfly from laying eggs on it, by closing instantaneously to the touch! We saw poison dart frogs, Tortoises, giant Atlas and Owl Moths, and the very beautifully iridescent Blue Morpho Butterfly. We felt as though we had walked through a portal to the tropics!
Our next stop was the idyllic Butchart Gardens, just a quick five minute drive down the road from Butterfly Gardens. We strolled the picturesque flower lined paths as we learned all about the history of the Butchart family. The gardens were started in 1908 when the family’s Portland Cement Factory went out of business. There was a quarry from extracting limestone that left a large cavernous hole. The Factory had workers from all over the world, primarily India, that would have been out of work with the factory closure. Jennie Butchart decided to have the workers plant a garden to fill the quarry to keep everyone employed. The word spread and people started to visit the gardens and the Mediterranean-like climate. 107 years later, the grounds are still in full bloom, not just in summer, but for five seasons of the year: Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall and Christmas! We were amazed to learn that the Garden’s irrigation system is completely self sustainable! By using rain catchment and run-off, they are able to recycle water throughout the property for even distribution throughout the year. We made our way to the Dining Room, the Butchart family’s original dining room, for Afternoon Tea. We indulged in traditional British sweets and savouries and had the 100th anniversary blend tea, grown especially for the Gardens. After a full day of gardens, treats and very informative guides, it was time to head back on the CVS bus for downtown. We can’t wait to go back again!