the Gulf Islands

Butchart Gardens, Tod Inlet

Monday, October 11, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

The Sunken Garden which looks out to Tod Inlet.

We waited the weekend for the big storm to hit, but all we saw was some rain and a little wind. That's not to say that it didn't arrive.  It did.  But the protection in Telegraph Harbour is such that we didn't see much of it.  So, with a good forecast in hand, we left the marina Sunday afternoon and made our way south to Tod Inlet in fjord-like Saanich Inlet.

It's the quintessential Pacific Northwest anchorage bounded by steep tree-covered slopes on one side and gentle hills on the other where there's a provincial park on the land which used to house the employees of the Portland cement plant.  Foundations and parts of buildings still exist, but the only sign of the factory is a tall kiln stack.  There is, however, a system of trails that leads to the parking lot of the world-famous Butchart Gardens – the main reason for our visit.

Jennie Butchart began cultivating her gardens in 1904, shortly after a summer home was built adjacent to her husband's cement factory.  Aided by professional landscapers and workers from the factory, she first created the Japanese Garden, which slopes from the house's lawn down to Butchart Cove where people are able to moor and have access to the back entrance of the gardens during the summer months.  The Sunken Garden, my personal favourite, was next – a challenge she couldn't resist after the company had exhausted the site's limestone quarry.  Later came the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden and the Mediterranean Garden to name a few.

It was another nice day, so we decided to make our pilgrimage just after lunch.   It was pretty quiet, not surprising for this time of year, with only a fraction of the number of visitors a summer's day would bring through the gate – just the way we like it.  But this is October – the first days of fall – and the roses, along with several other varieties of flowers, aren't in bloom excepting a few persistent stragglers.  A visit, particularly the first one as it was for David, probably isn't worth the price of admission this time of year;  but it was an enjoyable afternoon, nonetheless, and a good way to get off the boat, stretch our legs and do something completely different from being on the water.

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