GWA Region 7
April 15 -19, 2004
Qualicum Beach BC


Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Our last day of our meeting was a drive into Victoria.  Our first stop was Abhkazi Gardens.  Now if you have never been here before and you visit Victoria, you must make time to visit this garden.  The garden is under the Land Conservancy of British Columbia thankfully, because not a very long time ago, it was going to be a townhouse development.  All that changed when they bought the property and now it is in the hands of people who will protect the garden that love built.  It truly is a magical story and garden, please put it on your list of gardens to visit and correct me if I am wrong!  Take a look at some of these pictures and you can see why they wanted to protect this land.  We were met by Valerie Murray, the Director and guided through this jewel until we were at the house, where they had tea and scones waiting for us…freshly baked and with clotted cream and strawberry jam, we were set to park for a good long while…but alas, we had gardens to visit and so little time! 

The Land Conservancy of British Columbia protects plants, animals, natural communities and landscaped features that represent the diversity of life on Earth.  Please read more about this very worthwhile charity at



The next stop was to Government House and a tour of their gardens.  We were met by some members of the Friends of Government House Gardens Society.  I believe they have around 400 volunteers who work here off and on.  There are many gardens to look after and they are a vibrant and very active garden society….and oh yes, it really helps if you have a Lieutenant Governor who loves to garden!

The close-up of the leaves are those of the Dawn Redwood, a perfect specimen tree here and one that they are very proud of.  As the pictures show, it is a wonderful piece of property with a fantastic view right in the center of Victoria.



Now we are headed towards Butcharts and it has been a while since I have been there and I am excited…Spring is such a wonderful time of year and we were not to be disappointed!  Bulbs were everywhere and the trees in bloom made the whole place shine with colour.  And this was just in the parking lot!  Yes the parking lot is crammed with colour to welcome you to the gardens.  Before we could visit the gardens we had to have lunch…not that this was a problem.  We were met by David Clarke and Alison Partridge both very involved with public relations and marketing at the garden.  After a delicious lunch in the old billiard room of the Butchart house we were off to visit the gardens.  This room had the most incredible view of the Italian Gardens in glorious bloom.  You can see the pictures of us there with the original billiard table covered up.  Again, the sun decided to shine very brightly for these pictures and I apologize that they are the way they are.

After our tour we were on our own until it was time to leave…now many changes have taken place since I was last there.  The entry has been totally redesigned.  Where the waterwheel is now is where the old entrance used to be…it is now much more user friendly and easier to get in and out.  The shops have expanded at this end as well.  I am sure you are well aware that this is the 100th Anniversary of Butchart Gardens.  They have many exciting things planned for this year including two totem poles by First Nation artists that will be housed in one of two large timber buildings while they are being carved and then they will be raised in September.  Charles Elliott and Doug Lafortune are the artists.  The waterwheel is new.  Topiary sculptures of animals are being positioned throughout the gardens on May 21st.  There is also a special 100th Year Afternoon Tea that is available every day in the dining room – you will take home a small gift to recognize the occasion.  A grand reunion for all past and present staff members will be held on May 22nd, 2004.  Look forward to world class entertainment during the summer evenings culminating with Richard Margison on September 1st, 2004. 

A special thank you to David Clarke and Alison Partridge for taking such good care of us, for that delightful lunch and for the goodies you left for each of us to remember this visit by.  Little did I know that when meeting David, we were meeting a part of the Butchart family…he had been married to the great granddaughter Robin Ross at one point….no wonder he felt such a sense of responsibility for this garden. 

Please visit their site at and discover for yourself why this garden is celebrating 100 Years in Bloom.



Our last stop of the day and our time together was to Brentwood Bay.Lodge and Spa.  They don’t open to the public until May but we had a sneek peek plus got to sample some of the goodies that will be offered to the guests.  This luxury oceanfront resort will feature just 33 ocean suites with everything you can imagine and more.  Here is their website

First you will see the sommelier, Brian Storen, opening a bottle of champagne for us.  They have already received two awards for their wine list and the wine cellar is not even stocked yet!  What a treat – a glass of champagne and a tour around the bay in one of their own water shuttles that goes back and forth to the Butchart Gardens.  You can also see Larry speaking to us all on the deck where we had some nibblies with our wine and champagne.  It was truly a wonderful ending to a wonderful three day event.  But then all of our meetings have been fun as well as a learning experience. 

Now the last few pictures are those that I took on the Monday while in Qualicum Beach. My flight didn’t leave until 6:45 pm so I had plenty of time to walk around and enjoy the town. One of the things I did on the way back to the hotel was take a bit of a shortcut through the Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach. This beautiful piece of property needs protecting - please visit and see if you can help in any way .... I end with the Provincial Flower of B.C., the dogwood, which was kind of neat because as I was just taking the picture, the owners pulled into their driveway … I am sure wondering what this crazy lady was doing taking a picture of a dogwood tree…well, that is what we do. We delight in gardens and cannot seem to get enough pictures of them and are willing to sacrifice all sense or sensibility in getting that picture

I had also arranged to have Chris pick me up at the hotel and take me to the airport. Chris is the owner of The Qualicum Chauffeur at 250-954-9694. Chris is originally from the Cotswolds in England, so you can just imagine that we hit it off right away...Chris and his wife have been here for about 7 years and love the area. It shows because he is full of information on the island. Chris is available to pick you up at the airport and he can take anywhere from 1 to 12 people. He does all kinds of things for you like airport, ferry and cruise ship connections, island tours. He is just a great guy and I told him I was going to mention him and if you are ever needing assistance, please do call him...gosh he even carried my bag to the check in counter...:) he will have a website in the next little while.

You know, every time we get together for one of these meetings, we get to know a little bit more about Canada, its provinces and it’s people.   We have much to visit, and I hope that we get the chance to visit gardens in all of our provinces as more garden writers join us. 

Now don’t forget, the National Symposium is in Long Island this September and the 2005 National Symposium will be in Vancouver, B.C. 




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