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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)

TITLE: The Butchart Gardens
By Loren T. Lowery


It was a wound on the landscape. A huge pit dug in 1888 to quarry rich limestone deposits necessary for cement production on Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada near Victoria on Vancouver Island.

By 1909, its bounty was finally exhausted and it was abandoned. But while some could only see a gaping wound, there would also be other seeing beauty rising from the injury.

Robert Pim Butchart was the man responsible for the quarry. From it, he was able to manufacture Portland Cement and become a millionaire several times over. His wife, Jennie, became responsible for the vision of beauty. And with the help of designer Isaburo Kishida, she set about turning it into a sunken garden that would enrich others for decades to come.

A dream was grafted into the wound and it flourished to become known as the Butchart Gardens. Its beginning, like spring itself, became a prelude to something greater than what met the eye. Something nubile and pregnant with promise – something to be woven in tandem by the hands of both angels and men.

Its beauty was to become as pronounced and as an infinite as a vaulted ceiling of larkspur blue summer skies with flushed, fragrant flowers beneath; reaching their petals up to touch the sun.

It was to grow as oaks or maples grow in stature giving permanence to the world around it; crowning each autumn day with stunning banners of reds, russets and gold.

Winter’s desolation was to be obscured by the very majesty of latent promises and faithful abiding beneath its dark soil. White upon gray, snow and fog bid to hide the knitting in the womb.

The Butchart Gardens in all its seasons, holding secrets whispered into the air by its visitors and caught in the glint of water spouting from its fountains, or scripted on the ice of its skating rink.

Heavenly secrets revealed in the heady perfumed air exhaled by the flowers or their exhalation of color. Divined secrets disclosed by the soft touch of the wind upon a beguiled visitor's cheek.

The sunken gardens were completed in 1921 at which time the Butcharts soon began receiving visitors – sharing something they knew to be larger than themselves, if not larger even than the 53 some acres contained within its landscape.

Indeed, it became more than just a garden. It became a labyrinth to escape, even but briefly the cares of this world, a fantasia of fragrant, blooming, growing walkways leading wherever your thoughts and dreams might safely and peacefully lead you.

In 1994, the Canadian Heraldic Authority granted a coat of arms to the Butchart Gardens. And, in 2004, the gardens were designated as a national historic site.

Visiting the site, gives one pause to think what might be done to other things some see as blights or open wounds. One man’s injury is another man’s chance to begin something good – something better. It is a healing and not just for the wounded but also for himself; and to all those others he might encounter – no matter the season of his life.

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This article has been read 794 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 02/05/09
Elegant descriptions and a good application to boot. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/06/09
You presented a wonderful lesson based on fantastic images.
Joanne Sher 02/07/09
Wonderful images AND lesson. A lovely piece.
Eliza Evans 02/07/09
"fantasia of fragrance"
Ooo I like that! :)

I think the Butchart Garden people would be very pleased to read what you have written here. :)

Very nice!

Catrina Bradley 02/08/09
Your descriptions of the sunken gardens make me want to go! Very interesting and enjoyable history lesson. I like the ending, too.
Tallylah Monroe02/10/09
I enjoyed this.

You've really recreated the Butchart gardens with words here.
Joshua Janoski04/20/09
It always saddens me when I see nature wounded by man's endeavors. There is a quarry in the side of one of the mountains here that breaks my heart everytime I see it.

However, this story reminds me that what is broken can be made beautiful once again. I looked up the gardens after reading this, and I'm so glad you turned me on to a historical landmark that I was not aware existed until now.