Sensational reds, purples, pinks, yellows and oranges. This time of year, The Butchart Gardens shift into overdrive, showing off mesmerizing colors and breathtaking blooms. Nature seems to transform The Gardens from winter to spring overnight. What better time to introduce some new perspectives into your life? While many of The Gardens’ features stay the same, there are always new blooms to discover. Ready to explore? Here are our picks for seven things to do at The Butchart Gardens this spring.

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1. Check out the Daffodils at The Mound

Clamber to the top of the massive, rock mound rising from the center of the iconic Sunken Gardens. According to Rick Los, Director of Horticulture for The Butchart Gardens, this spot serves up “signature views of the Sunken Gardens, which were once a pile of rock and rubble.”

Sunny-hued Daffodils brighten the base of The Mound. Credit: Scott Meis
Sunny-hued Daffodils brighten the base of The Mound. Credit: Scott Meis

Look out on the 151 flower beds filled with approximately 65,000 spring bulbs planted on the grounds below. As you make your ascent up the circular path to the top of the embankment, look for the trumpet-shaped Daffodils at the base of the hill. Exploding into sunny yellow, peach, orange and white blooms, these cheery flowers are a sure sign of spring.

2. Soak in the Sweet Scent of Spring Along the Dining Room Piazza

When it comes to spring, why not go all in with a full-on sensory immersion? Stroll along the path leading toward the Dining Room Restaurant and breathe in the heady, sweet scent of blooming Hyacinths wafting through the air. Follow your nose to be rewarded with fragrant magenta, blue, purple and white blooms emerging from a winter’s nap. Talk about botanical bliss.

These sweet blossoms are a treat for the senses. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
These sweet blossoms are a treat for the senses. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

Inside the restaurant, feast your eyes on a tasty spring lunch or afternoon tea. Gaze out on the green, manicured lawn, so well-maintained it practically begs you to stretch out on it. Time your visit right and you’ll even get a glimpse of The Gardens’ stunning Magnolia trees filled with pink, Tulip-like flowers.

3. Tip-Toe Through the Tulips

After a chilly start to spring, the end of April through the first couple weeks of May is prime Tulip time! Reaching for the sun in vibrant pops of color, nothing screams spring like these striking beauties. With more than 185 different varieties among 160,000 bulbs scattered throughout the grounds, it is no wonder the World Tulip Summit honored The Butchart Gardens with its 2017 World Tulip Garden of the Year Award.

Meander through The Gardens to catch sight of elegant Tulips in every shade imaginable, from light cotton-candy pinks to deep inky purples. Make a game out your trek and see how many of the different types you can spot. Fair warning, you may need a little help identifying them all. Swing by the Plant Identification Center and the friendly, expert staff can answer your questions.

Or grab a shot for Instagram (Note: Selfie sticks are banned from The Gardens), surrounded by the rainbow of flowers. If you can, try to view the Tulips in late afternoon. With the sun’s slanted rays shining through the petals, it appears as if the Tulips have a “lit from within” glow.

4. See the Sunken Garden from a New Perspective

Cradling an incredible assortment of flowers, trees, shrubs and even its own lake, the iconic Sunken Garden has long been the crown jewel of The Butchart Gardens. Los notes, “You turn the corner and boom, it’s like when you first see the Grand Canyon. Absolutely awe-inspiring.”

Want to see this unique garden from a different point of view? Tuck into the wooden-house-like structure along the right fork of The Sunken Garden Lookout. It is the last remaining tea house on the grounds, which Jennie Butchart used to stock with hot water and tea for all her guests.

Don't miss the last of Jennie Butchart's tea houses when you reach the top of the Sunken Garden Lookout. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Don’t miss the last of Jennie Butchart’s tea houses when you reach the top of the Sunken Garden Lookout. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

This vantage point allows you to view the 5-acres of gardens below from a completely different angle. (Insider tip: History buff? Keep an eye out for the “then and now” signs posted around The Gardens at major points of interest for a historical perspective on the grounds).

5. Wander Along The Gardens’ Display Borders for Spring Plantings

If you want to see The Gardens staff wizardry in action, check out the dazzling display borders. Los states, “No one does what we do with display borders.” Noting each flower bed is replanted at least twice a year, with some plantings changed up to five times.

Vibrant blooms line the Italian Garden pond. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Vibrant blooms line the Italian Garden pond. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

He adds, “This is part of the magic. The basic structure and layout of The Gardens won’t change, but the team will change out shrubbery or perennials and most people won’t even know. Eighty percent of people will walk through and sense something is different, but won’t be sure what it is.” Soak in rows of Bluebells, blue Grape Hyacinths and Glory of the Snow as they create a sea of blue before they are replaced with brilliant blue Delphinium and blue Poppies come summer.

6. Go for a Spin on the Rose Carousel

Have the kiddos in tow? Located at the half-way point through The Gardens, the popular Rose Carousel provides a chance to give weary feet a rest. Duck inside the domed Children’s Pavilion and hop on one of the brightly painted and hand-carved wooden zebras, camels, lions, horses or chariots for a whirl. Fun for both kids and kids at heart, it’s impossible not to leave with an ear-to-ear grin. Don’t forget to say “hi” to Annabelle, the elegant bronze carousel horse located next to the carousel.

A carousel filled with a menagerie of basswood animals was current owner, Robin-Lee Clarke's contribution to The Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
A carousel filled with a menagerie of basswood animals was current owner, Robin-Lee Clarke’s contribution to The Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

7. Find Spring Calm in the Japanese Garden

Need a little natural peace and tranquility? Head to Los’ favorite decompression spot, the Japanese Garden. Home to 500 Rhododendrons and Azalea as well as 200 meters of streams, it is the perfect scenic sanctuary.

With trickling streams and moss covered grounds, the Japanese Garden is a quiet haven within The Butchart Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
With trickling streams and moss covered grounds, the Japanese Garden is a quiet haven within The Butchart Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

Los says, “I love to come here before visitors arrive and just stop and turn. It’s magical.” Find one of the benches tucked in the quiet corners of the garden and take a moment to watch Cherry blossoms drifting down to dust the ground with a light blanket of pink “snow.” There’s no better way to embrace the season.

Springtime at The Butchart Gardens is an explosion of color and heavenly scents. Spend a day in this floral oasis and celebrate Mother Nature’s blooming season.

THE BUTCHART GARDENS INTERACTIVE MAP

The Best Way to Get to The Butchart Gardens from Seattle

With daily departures from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle, the Victoria Clipper high-speed catamaran provides a quick and scenic ride to the heart of downtown Victoria, BC in just 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Clipper Vacations offers a Victoria Clipper with The Butchart Gardens overnight package including hotel stay plus a city tour and transportation to and from The Gardens (BONUS: Clipper delivers your luggage directly to your hotel upon arrival in Victoria if you book this package). Alternatively, Clipper Vacations also offers a Victoria Clipper with The Butchart Gardens day trip option. Either trip can also be upgraded to include a stop at the Butterfly Gardens on your way out to The Butchart Gardens.

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Feature Photo: Scott Meis