The Butchart Gardens are the legacy of Robert Pim Butchart and his wife, Jenny. Robert Butchart began in dry goods, but in 1888, he establisehd a Portland Cement manufacturing facility near Owen Sound, Ontario, his birthplace. He became a very successful industrial leader and later moved to the west coast of Canada, following the limestone deposits located on Vancouver Island. In 1904, he and his family moved their home to the Tod Inlet site and settled there for the remainder of the lives. When Butchart had mined out the limestone at the factory near their house, Jenny Butchart suggested using the big hole in the ground to build a Sunken Garden. Top soil was brought in and the work began.
In 1908, the garden was expanded to include a Japanese Garden on the ocean-side of the estate. An Italian garden and Rose garden were added later as well. Little now remained of the old limestone kiln, though the factory continued to make tiles and flower pots until as late as 1950. (The old kiln chimney can still be seen from the Sunken Garden.)
By the 1920's, the garden was becoming a destination and more than 50,000 visitors arrived annually. The Butchart's changed the estate's name to 'Benvenuto', Italian for welcome and kept on growing the place.
The Butchart Gardens remains a property of the Butchart family. R. Ian Ross owned and operated the site until 1997. It is now owned by members of the Butchart/Ross family. More than a million people visit the site annually.
No one from JGarden has visited this site, but we've received reports that the Japanese garden, at least, is nothing to write home about. rc.
At the mountain's ridge,
Where the bright moon is rising
Into a clear sky,
A single bundle of clouds
Hesitates, then fades away.