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Our last day in Victoria was reserved for a visit to a very famous garden.  Butchart Gardens is the place to go for visitors to Victoria.


Years ago, my in-laws took me and my husband, as a college graduation gift, to Seattle and Victoria.  The year was 1998, and I was finishing up the last semester of my horticulture degree.


Flush with my new knowledge of plants and horticultural practices, I was especially looking forward to visiting this beautiful garden.  Fast forward 17 years later, I was excited to go back.



My mother and fellow travel companion.
Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, we were faced with fragrant, yellow wisteria that draped over an arbor.


Walking a few steps further, was another splash of color with anemone flowers in pinks, purples and white.

I hadn’t even gone through the entrance and I had already taken a number of pictures – it was going to be a veritable photographic feast!


Like most areas in Victoria, colorful hanging baskets could be seen all over the garden.

Butchart Gardens are over 100 years old and were created by the Butchart family.  Almost one million visitors come to visit this special place, which sits about 30 minutes outside of Victoria.


Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite areas in the garden.

Garden art is tastefully spread throughout the garden, usually in the form of animals.



One of my favorite color combinations is the bright green, spiky foliage of iris and its vibrant, purple flowers.


One of the many things that I liked was that the trash receptacles had plants growing on top.


I really think that this was a great idea.  Imagine trash cans acting as the base for plants that add beauty.  I love it!

Here are a couple more…



The garden is separated into several smaller gardens.  My favorite is the Sunken Garden.


This spectacular garden was created in a former quarry.

A long stairway leads to the bottom of the garden and winding paths invite your to explore more.



It was interesting to watch the people exclaim over the beauty of the gardens many were from other countries including Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan and Spain plus the good old U.S.A.


Because I had visited the gardens before, I didn’t feel as if I had to hurry in order to be able to see everything.  Today, I decided to walk slowly through my favorite parts.  As a result, I spent most of my time in the Sunken Garden.




At the end of the Sunken Garden is a lake with a ‘dancing’ fountain.



Different variations of spray patterns made onlookers stop for a few minutes to enjoy the dancing waters.  

After climbing out of the Sunken Garden, I strolled through other areas of the garden on my way to the Rose Garden.




Blankets of flowers surround, what I believe are crab apple trees.


Love the black bearded iris, don’t you?


Brightly-colored dahlia.


Clematis growing up on an old stump.


There is one flower in the Butchart Gardens that is a favorite of many.  This is the Himalayan blue poppy.


You can find them scattered throughout the gardens and their vivid blue flowers attract everyone’s attention.


They aren’t easy to grow.  To get them to germinate, you need to place the seeds in a moist paper towel and put in a Ziploc bag.  Then you place the bag with the paper towel and seeds and stick in the refrigerator (in the vegetable crisper) for 4 weeks before planting.

There are blue poppy seeds available in the and I bought two packages to try to grow them in my own garden.


There are several water features scattered throughout the gardens and I liked this one with the three fish, encircled with colorful anemone flowers.


The Japanese Garden is not to be missed.  I love the varying shades of green and contrasting textures.


As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to take care of many garden spaces within Butchart Gardens.


Watching these young girls working, planting new annual flowers, reminded me of the years spent as a horticulturist on golf courses.


These are but a select few of the 319 photos I took of these truly stunning gardens.  

I hope you enjoyed them!

Before leaving Butchart Gardens, a visit to this special place isn’t complete without rubbing the nose of the ‘mascot’.


This is ‘Tacca’, which is a bronze replica of a wild boar – the original was created in 1620 in Italy.  ‘Taco’ is named for the sculptor who made the original.


It is said that if you rub his snout, you will have good luck.  So, millions of visitors have rubbed Tacca’s snout over the years.

After leaving the gardens, we drove onto get on the ferry to Vancouver, where we will embark on the next adventure of our trip.

More to come tomorrow!

Our first day in Canada began with walking from our hotel to the Parliament Buildings – just a couple of blocks from our hotel.



Victoria, is the capital of the province of British Columbia, Canada and the Parliament Buildings are quite beautiful.

This very English city is said by many “to be more English than England.”  

As for me, I don’t know if I would call Victoria more English than London, but I do know that I miss the British accents 🙂


However you feel about the ‘Englishness’ of Victoria vs. London, the Parliament Buildings certainly look very English.

It’s important to note that the Europeans weren’t the first people here in British Columbia…


Native Americans came here first and their importance in the past and present in this Canadian province is evident everywhere – especially when you see their iconic totem poles.


The sight of a totem pole in front of the very English architecture of the Parliament Building is a great illustration of Victoria with two different cultures coming together and calling this beautiful area ‘home’.



We decided to take the self-guided tour and were handed a guidebook and got started.



The rotunda was beautiful and filled with scenes describing the history of British Columbia.


We all know that Elizabeth II is Queen of England, BUT she is also Queen of Canada.  So it was no surprise that a significant portion of the  tour involved things related to English royalty.


This stained glass window was created for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.


And this stained glass window was made for Queen Elizabeth II for her golden jubilee in 2002.

The Queen has visited Canada many times, including the Parliament Buildings.


Here is where the legislative assembly meets when they are in session.

When it was designed, the seats were positioned two swords lengths to prevent any ‘accidents’ in the middle of a heated debate.



Large beds outside of the Parliament Buildings contained a variety of colorful annuals.

Our next stop was at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.


Commonly referred to as ‘The Empress’, there is nothing common about this famous hotel.


The Empress is the oldest hotel in Victoria and opened in 1908.  She has over 477 rooms and is perhaps best know for her ‘Afternoon High Tea’ where participants indulge in finger sandwiches, scones and tea.


Many people were enjoying the afternoon tea.  The Empress even has their own China pattern available in the gift shop.


While the hotel is not inexpensive, you don’t have to stay there to enjoy the experience.

Walk through the lobby and see the fancy Royal Mail box or one of the staff dressed up in period costume…
 


The grounds of the hotel were beautiful with white wisteria vine and dark pink rhododendron.


The flowers are huge.


A hedge of California lilac shrubs (Ceanothus) added beauty to the grounds.



I love their flowers, although they aren’t fragrant.


The The Empress Hotel sits just off of the water.



The presence of boats, ferries, sea planes and mini-water taxis won’t let you forget that you are on an island.


Native American vendors sold their products nearby where I bought a pair of earrings.


Next, it was on to Government Street and more shopping.



There were a lot of the typical souvenir shops that each sold the same items.  Many of them were rather overpriced, so I limited myself to buying a small gift for my granddaughter, Lily.

We did enjoy some of the specialty shops, but did mostly window shopping.  


Lavender is widely planted in this area and looked great in this window box.

Soon, it was time for a lunch that really wasn’t a lunch at all…


Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I will really need to get back to healthy eating when I get home!


Victoria is well known for their iconic lamp posts and their hanging flower baskets.

Sadly, they hadn’t hung the flower containers yet during our visit.  But, have you ever wondered how they water all those baskets?

Notice the drip irrigation lines…


The restaurant where we ate breakfast had drip irrigation going to its flowering containers.

After doing a lot of walking and exploring, we took a small break back at our hotel before heading out to afternoon tea.  

There are a number of places in Victoria that serve ‘high’ tea and we made reservations at White Heather Tea Room.


In addition to your choice of a number of hot tea, you get a selection of finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, mini-tarts, scones, cookies and other pastries.  Top them off with clotted cream, lemon curd and/or raspberry jam and you are in heaven!

After tea, our day was winding down and we headed toward our last stop – The Government House’s gardens.

From the description in our guidebook, I expected a few acres of nicely landscaped gardens around the house.  But, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the gardens or how beautiful they were.  I even found some plants growing there that are also growing at my home in Arizona.


An enclosed area boasted of fragrant rose bushes, including old-fashioned roses.  The sound of the water fountain made this a very peaceful spot.


This blackbird found the fountain a great place for a welcome drink of water.


Benches were strewn throughout the gardens, inviting you to stop, rest and enjoy the view.

Everywhere you looked, there was a new place to discover, including somewhat hidden areas that invited you to go in further and explore.

Parts of the gardens were covered in grass and filled with colorful rhododendrons, but there was a large section that was filled with winding garden paths flanked by colorful perennials and succulents – the majority of which, were drought tolerant.  

*Note the agave in the lower left corner?  Many plants that grow in both cooler climates, such as peonies and hellebores, co-existed alongside agave, Santa Barbara daisy and salvias.


Can you guess what this purple-flowering plant is?

Believe it or not, it is the herb sage.  Mine flowers at home, but not this much.

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)


‘Hot Lips’ (Salvia greggii)

This salvia is growing in my garden right now.


Several huge trees dotted the property.


The 36-acre landscape surrounds the Government House where the lieutenant governor resides.  

I must confess, that I took only two photos of the house and over 300 of the garden 🙂

While there many plants in bloom in late spring, you could also see plants that flower in winter and also those getting ready to bloom in summer.



Much to my delight, my favorite flower (that I cannot grow in my desert garden) was in bloom.  I never get over how beautiful peonies are!

Iris

Red Rhododendron


These plants were growing in shallow pockets on top of this large boulder.

Large groves of Garry oak trees stood throughout the gardens.  You could almost imagine that you were standing in a California garden.  

As I stood admiring the oaks, I noticed out in the distance, a mountain range across the bay.  


It turns out that the view is of the mountains in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.  We were there, enjoying the beauty of those majestic mountains only the day before.  

It’s really amazing how much sightseeing you can do in a short amount of time!


As I finished up my tour, I circled back around the house toward the parking lot, when I saw this squirrel sitting up in the grass.


Whenever I find myself near a beautiful garden, I tend to disappear in order to explore more.  My husband and my mother understand this and are so patient.  In this instance, my mother and I had expected a smaller garden that would take us a few minutes to see.  But, it was soon evident that there was more to see.  

My mother understands me so well and my love for gardens.  So, after she explored parts of the garden, she patiently waited in the car for my return.

The next day of our journey involves a return trip to the world famous, Butchart Gardens.  I can hardly wait!

Day 5 of our Northwest road trip was filled with a wonderful adventure and for the first day since we left I didn’t spend any money in gift shops, which was a welcome respite for my wallet.


Our day began in Port Angeles.  Since our hotel didn’t provide breakfast, we headed to out to eat.



We ate at the Chestnut Cottage with was an English-themed restaurant that had a fabulous menu.  It took me a while to decide what to eat, but at the end, I knew that I just had to try the giant apricot scone.

It was delicious!

Now at home, I am fairly healthy in my eating habits.  But when on vacation, part of the experience of learning different regions, is to try out the food.

After breakfast, we headed out to the Olympic National Forest, which takes up the majority of the Olympic peninsula in Washington state.


After driving to the Olympic National Park’s Visitor Center, just outside of Port Angeles, we decided to take one of the nearby trails into the beautiful, lush forest.


Everywhere you looked, you could see evidence of lush, green growth as a result of the large amount of rain that falls in many areas within the national park.

Ferns carpeted the ground.

I’ve always loved ferns, especially as their curved ends gradually unfurl their leaves.



Moss also covered many of the exposed surfaces of the trees.


While parts of the forest were very shady – there were also areas where the sun shone through.


Big leaf maple trees added a bright shade of green to the darker foliage of the other trees in the forest.


Did you know that the majority of a tree’s roots grow outward and not downward?

This is the root mass of a large tree that had fallen and you can see how wide the roots grew.


I really enjoy bright green moss and there was plenty of it.


Throughout the forest were fallen trees that were slowly breaking down and returning to the ground.  Here you can see fungi that are growing on a recently cut tree.  Over time, they will help break down the wood, which will return it back to the soil.


Walking down the path, my mother noticed this tree, which at first glance, appeared dead since it was hollow.


Yet, when you looked up, you could see live branches filled with leaves.

How can that be?

The living tissue of trees or in other words their vascular system that brings water and nutrients up and down the tree is located on the outer portion of the tree – not the inside.

**It might be interesting to some of you to find that the ‘Twilight’ book series was set in the Olympic National Forest and small towns nearby.


After our hike into the forest, we got in the car and took to the road to Hurricane Ridge, which is high up in the Olympic National Forest.

As we climbed, we began to see snow-capped peaks.  


18 miles later, we arrived to a breathtaking view of  Mount Olympus alongside other notable mountain peaks.


It was cold and windy at the top, but that didn’t keep hikers away.


Looking at the trees next to the visitor’s center, you can see the evidence of the hurricane force winds and how they affect the growth.


Adjoining the visitor’s center is a large meadow, flanked by trees.  There were several walking paths and we got started on the second hike of the day.


There were a few deer grazing nearby who didn’t seem worried about our presence.


In fact, the closer we got, more came out from the trees to graze.



Wildflowers were beginning to grow with blooms soon to follow.  This lupine will soon be covered in purple blossoms.  In the meantime, you can see where water has collected in the center of the leaves.


Soon, it was time to head back down the mountains in order to catch our ferry to Victoria, Canada.


I am not afraid to admit that I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to taking ferries.  While I have been on them a few times (another trip to Canada and one in Scotland), this time we were taking our car with us.

We got in line waiting for the ferry to arrive about an hour before it was due to depart.


We had to fill out a yellow paper with our names and birthdates, which also listed the items we couldn’t bring into Canada.


The ferry arrived and the vehicles on it drove off while we waited.

I was shocked to see five large trucks coming off the ferry.  Some even had two trailers attached.  I know next to nothing about boats, but I was surprised that they could carry so many cars AND big trucks.


Finally, it was our turn to board.



We were directed into a lane and then told to lock our car and go up to the passenger area.  No one could stay in their vehicle during the voyage.



The trip took over an hour from Port Angeles to Victoria, Canada.


As we approached Victoria, we were told to go downstairs and get in our cars while the ferry docked.

Then we drove off, showed our passports and were on our way to enjoy several days in Canada.

Tomorrow, we will explore the very English city of Victoria, which is also known as the ‘City of Gardens’. 

Do you like to travel?


I bet you do.  But, if you are like me, you don’t like the having to tasks such as packing, finishing up last minute things at work and such.


Since I will be traveling without my husband and kids, I’ll also need to stop by the grocery store so that they don’t starve while I’m gone.


Below, is my kid’s puzzle of the United States and on it, I have placed the states that I have visited – many of them on annual road trips with my mother.




As you can see, there are some empty spaces and our road trips are an ongoing effort to visit all the different regions in the United States.

So before I reveal where we will be going this year, let’s look at the options for the road trip we considered:


Southern and Plains states.


A few Rocky Mountain states.


New England, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.


The Northwest, including British Columbia, Canada.

and


Texas and surrounding states.

Before I reveal our destination, I have to confess that it wasn’t our first choice.  We had initially decided to travel to New England and had worked hard on an itinerary filled with fun things to do and see.

But, that was before the harsh winter that they experienced.  We were advised by many New England natives that a trip this year would be difficult due to spring being delayed and numerous road crews repairing damaged streets due to pot holes left from the cold winter.

So, we decided to postpone our New England trip to next year (hopefully).

The destination that we finally decided on for this year is a region that we have both visited, but wanted to explore further…


We will be visiting the Northwest and British Columbia, Canada and I can hardly wait!

I have been to Seattle twice, but not by car and I look forward to exploring more of this dynamic city.

I’m ashamed to admit that I have never visited Oregon.  It has always been a state that is flown over on my way to Washington and I have always wanted to explore it further.

Here is a detailed map of where we will be going:


Our journey begins in Portland, where we will visit the world famous rose garden.  Of course, we will also explore other areas of this fun city.

After leaving Portland, we will drive to Astoria and spend some time before heading up to Seattle.

Later, we will stay in Port Angeles and visit the Olympic National Park.

The next leg of our journey involves a ferry to get us to Victoria, Canada.  I was fortunate to have spent a day in this very English city including Butchart Gardens, which I plan on seeing again.

Another ferry ride will take us from Victoria to Vancouver, which I have always wanted to visit since the Olympics was held there.

The last portion of our trip will bring us back toward Seattle with a stop in Mount Vernon and more gardens to visit.

**If you have any helpful advice on what to do and see in this area, I’d love some advice.

I hope you will join me as our journey begins!  I will be blogging from the road, sharing the sights and experiences along the way.

It all begins on Friday


Do you have a front garden or a front yard?


I really don’t like to refer to front area of a home as a ‘yard’.  


The definition of the word ‘yard’ is “a piece of ground adjoining a building or house.”


Now, while I do have a piece of ground adjoining my house – it is so much more then that.  


The piece of ground is filled with trees, shrubs, perennials and succulents, which in my opinion makes it not a ‘yard’ BUT a ‘garden’.


So, I thought that I would show you a little of what is growing in my front ‘garden’….


This time of year, my firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is in full bloom, much to the delight of bees and hummingbirds.

This tough perennial blooms January through April in my zone 9a garden.
In cooler climates, it will flower in the summer.


Underneath the front window, lies a row of white gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), which flowers in spring and fall.  This perennial is hardy to zone 5.



Agave are my favorite type of succulent and I have several different types in my garden.

This one is near the front entry and is called artichoke agave (Agave parryi ‘truncata’).  

It is a medium-sized agave and can grow in zones 7 and up.

As you can see, it has produced some offsets (babies, pups, volunteers).  They are attached to the mother plant by a underground stem.

I have taken several of the offsets and replanted them around my garden…


This one was planted 2 years ago from the mother plant.  

It is easy to take offsets and plant them in other areas in the garden.  I wrote about it a few years ago and you can read it here.


In late winter, I am always impatient to see my globe mallow begin to show the first glimpse of color peeking through.

I have several globe mallow plants and each one produces a different-colored flower.


Here is my pink globe mallow.


And it’s neighbor, which has white flowers.


This globe mallow has vibrant, red flowers and is located on the other side of my front garden.

While I love all of my globe mallow flowers, I think that the pink are my favorite…


The most common color of globe mallow is orange.  But, as you can see, there are other colors available.  

You can read more about this plant and its flowers in an article I wrote for Houzz.com


I mentioned that I had a few different species of agave in my garden.

This is my largest one, which is called octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana).  

I raised this agave from a tiny pup (bulbil) from the flowering stem of its mother, who I had grown in a large pot.

This agave has a tropical look with its curvy leaves and does best in areas with filtered or afternoon shade.


Victoria agave (Agave victoria-reginae) was named for Queen Victoria.

This smaller agave has a very distinctive look and is highly-desired, which makes it rather expensive.

I was given the largest one in the photo, above, by a client and it has since gone on to produce many babies for me.


Some people may think that lantana is overused in the landscape, but I like to put a twist on the traditional lantana.

There is a lantana called ‘Lavender Lace’ that produces both purple and white flowers on the same plant.  BUT, it can be hard to find and is expensive.

So, I create the same look by planting both a purple and a white trailing lantana in the same hole.


My favorite types of plants are flowering shrubs and groundcovers.  However, I like the different textures that succulents add to my front garden.

So, I have green desert spoon (Dasylirion acrotriche) on both sides in the front.  This species of desert spoon has a darker-green color then the gray/blue leaves of regular desert spoon.


Finally, I’d like to finish with my favorite flowering shrub, Valentine whose red blooms began to appear at Christmas and will last through April.

*********************

I hope you enjoyed this partial tour of my front garden.  I do have trees and other plants growing, but because they are dormant in winter, I will show you them in the future, once they are looking  their best.

**Tonight, I am leaving on the red-eye for Miami, Florida where I will be taking part in the Saturday6 once again.

So what is the Saturday6 you might be asking?

We are a group of 6 garden bloggers from around the country brought together by Troy-bilt to test their products, write garden articles and give our honest opinions and advice.

While in Miami, we will be touring the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.  Later, we will be creating a community garden in Miami, filled with edible plants.

I will be sure to share with you our adventures.  I can hardly wait to leave!