I spent much of last Thursday in one of my favourite places, doing one of my favourite things. Since I was a kid, I have loved gardens and landscaping and trees and flowers – not that I have a garden myself (doing things that involve actual dirt under the fingernails may not be my forte), but I love being in a nice garden or well landscaped park. Such a place is, for me, like a stronghold of peace and pleasantness and endless interest. And aside from walking in gardens and being surrounded by them, I also like taking pictures of them, not for any good reason other than that I like taking pictures.
Apparently some people think of gardens as a more feminine thing, and – though photography has many masculine associations – even taking pictures of them as somehow not very macho. Well, nuts to them. I’m not big on the ideas some people have that some activities are more suitable for one sex or the other. But aside from that, how you can you say gardening is not a butch art when the best garden I’ve ever seen is Butchart?
Yes, the Butchart Gardens, near Victoria, BC. A lovely park with a large sunken garden that used to be a limestone quarry – Robert Butchart was a cement magnate (and don’t tell me quarrying isn’t a butch art) – and a magical Japanese garden designed by Isaburo Kishida (and don’t even begin to think that Japanese gardens are exclusively female; Kishida certainly wasn’t), plus an Italian garden, a rose garden, a concert stage, and several fountains.
The gardens are open until well after dark, and the lighting at night turns them into a fantasyland.
The Butchart Gardens are very popular. I must admit that’s a little detraction for me – I don’t enjoy crowds, and it’s hard to get scenic pictures with people doing unscenic things right in the way – but the attraction of the gardens easily overcomes it. And patience pays off, more often than not.
Where does the name Butchart come from? It may seem like it comes from butcher, and perhaps for some bearers it does, but chart it farther back – it is apparently a modification of burgheard, from burg ‘fort’ and heard ‘hard, strong’. A strong fort, perhaps made with cement. Well, cement is a flour made of rocks; the Butchart Gardens have flowers on the rocks.