See Butchart and Gardens of the Pacific Northwest
November 26th, 2013
It’s one of the most magnificent garden views I’ve ever seen – looking out over a one-time quarry now filled with woven beds of flowers, shrubs and specimen conifers, all tied together by grass and paver walkways.
If that sounds familiar, you’ve no doubt been to western Canada’s Butchart Gardens.
If not, you’ll get a chance to see this famous, world-class garden as the highlight of an 11-day gardening vacation I’ve put together with Kathy Harrigan of Harrigan Holidays.
The trip is set for Sept. 9-19, 2014, and it’ll feature stops in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver in addition to Butchart, which is a ferry-ride away, north of Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island.
We’ll be seeing 11 other gardens besides Butchart, plus a variety of “touristy” attractions, including a winery in Silverton, Oregon; Portland’s impressive Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge; the unique Pike Place Market in Seattle; Dale Chihuly’s incredible glass-blowing operation in Seattle, and Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park.
Here’s a rundown:
Sept. 9: Fly out of Philadelphia, arriving in Portland late in the afternoon. A bus to the Philly airport from Harrisburg is included.
Sept. 10: The first stay is at the Oregon Garden Resort, a beautifully landscaped, chic new community that’s right on the grounds of the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. The Oregon Garden is an under-rated, little-known gem (probably because it’s so new) that’s 80 acres in size and nicely laid out with 20 theme gardens (a Sensory Garden, a Silverton Market Garden, a Children’s Garden, etc.)
After a tour and time at the Oregon Garden, we’ll visit a nearby winery for tasting and then have some free time in the town of Silverton before dinner that night back at the resort.
Sept. 11: We head to Portland and spend much of this day seeing what’s arguably America’s best Japanese garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, as well as the famed Portland Rose Garden, which is primarily a testing ground for new roses. These venues also have stunning views of Portland’s mountain masterpiece, Mt. Hood.
We’re staying at the Hilton in downtown Portland, so you’ll have time to shop and look around a bit before we head out for a dinner cruise this evening on the Willamette River.
Sept. 12: We start this day with a visit to my favorite Chinese garden, Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. This garden takes up an entire city block, but it’s so peaceful and so nicely done, you don’t even know you’re smack in the middle of a city once inside this garden’s walls. It was built by artisans and plantsmen from Portland’s Chinese sister city, Suzhou, and includes a tea house, a lotus-filled lake, pavilions, bridges and a manmade waterfall.
Sept. 13: Off to Seattle today with a stop in the morning at Lakewold Gardens, an estate garden that ranges from formal boxwood parterres to an Asian shade garden.
We’ll stop at Pike Place Market for lunch and likely get to see the thing people remember most about it – the guys throwing fish around at the market’s seafood stand.
After lunch, we’ll visit Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibit hall and glasshouse featuring the blown-glass, plant-inspired sculptures of Dale Chihuly that you may have seen at public gardens. Dinner is included this evening in Seattle.
Sept. 14: We’ll start this day with a ferry ride out to Bainbridge Island to see the tranquil and award-winning Bloedel Reserve with its woodland gardens, Reflection Garden, meadow, bird refuge and great view of Puget Sound.
Then the afternoon features a tour of Bellevue Botanical Garden, a 53-acre urban refuge with a variety of themed gardens and natural areas (rock garden, native-plant garden, fuchsia garden and more). You’ll have time to explore Seattle on your own this evening.
Sept. 15: We cross the border into Vancouver today. First stop is to Queen Elizabeth Park, a garden-dotted, bird-friendly park that sits at Vancouver’s highest point and overlooks the city. Bloedel Conservatory, a domed tropical greenhouse, is in the park, and we’ll have time to visit it.
The evening will be devoted to Vancouver’s Granville Island, a complex of shopping, restaurants and entertainment. We’ll have a dinner at a cooking school on the island.
Sept. 16: We’ll spend the bulk of this day seeing all that the University of British Columbia has to offer, starting with the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, Canada’s oldest botanical garden, and later, the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese tea and stroll garden.
We’ll also pay a visit to the university’s fascinating Museum of Anthropology and finish the day with some free time to explore Vancouver.
Sept. 17: This is the big Butchart day. We’ll catch an early ferry over to Vancouver Island and drive 30 minutes to get to Butchart Gardens, which was once a quarry. This hole got filled in with soil and then with some of the most spectacular gardens on the planet.
The overlook into the former-quarry Sunken Garden is my favorite, but there’s also a superb Japanese garden, a Rose Garden, an Italian Garden and a mesmerizing fountain display at a lake (a photo of which is my computer’s wallpaper display).
We’ll do afternoon tea at Butchart and have some time to check out the quaint little city of Victoria on the island before taking the ferry back to Vancouver.
Sept. 18: One last garden is a must: VanDusen Botanical Garden in the heart of Vancouver. We’ll tour this 55-acre garden with its huge plant diversity (nearly 12,000 different varieties), many of which you won’t believe can overwinter this far north.
We’ll then make our way back down to the U.S., staying at a hotel near the Seattle airport, where we’ll fly back.
Sept. 19: Return from Seattle to Philadelphia on a direct flight. Then we’ll take a bus back to Harrisburg (included in the price) and wonder why we call our mountains “mountains” after seeing the real mountain-sized things in the Pacific Northwest’s Cascades range.
Wait awhile to visit your own garden because it’ll no doubt seem pretty puny, too, compared to Butchart, the Oregon Garden, VanDusen and that ilk.
The whole thing costs $3,500 per person, including airfare, hotels, all admissions, eight breakfasts, four dinners (including the dinner cruise in Portland), the bus to and from Philly and endless chatter and plant talk by yours truly. An extra bonus is that my lovely and plant-propagating wife, Sue, will be your escort. (She happens to be a registered nurse in case any of you decides to get sick along the way.)
The full itinerary is listed on the Harrigan Holidays web site at http://www.harriganholidays.com. (Hit the “Join a Group” button at the top to find it.)
You can also get more information and/or sign up by calling Kathy Harrigan at 717-818-3024 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.