Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Day 11 – Canada/Alaska – Butchart Gardens

Woo hoo! Megan and I got the coveted front seat on the bus! She’s sure it’s because she bumped into Sharon in Whistler yesterday and mentioned that she had here yes shit all the way from Jasper to Whistler because of travel sickness.

Being in the front seat, we were on Wildlife Duty. No wildlife showed themselves, so it was pretty easy.

Or maybe we were just really bad at it…?

This is the second biggest granite outcrop after Gibraltar.

The white patch on the mountain is said to look like a witch flying on a broomstick, but I see a duck looking over its shoulder.

We stopped along the way back into Vancouver for a look at the Shannon Falls. 

It’s 3 times higher than Niagara Falls.

When Sharon said this, I thought I’d heard wrong. Isn’t Niagara Falls supposed to be HUGE? When I asked Sharon about it, she smiled and said, “Niagara Falls is only about 51 metres tall. But it’s wide,” and she spread her arms wide to illustrate what she meant. 

The falls started from way above our heads.

I don’t know what it is about running water, but everyone seems to love it.

Here’s a photo of Megan taking a photo of some of the people from the coach.

There was a path along the side of the falls that wound back towards where the coach was parked. The stream running alongside was very pretty.

Here’s an action shot.

The temperate rainforest reminded me a little of the Dandenongs.

I must take a drive up there when I get back.

There were some wonderful vistas on the drive.

Also, some very pretty number plates.

We saw that in Canada some provinces don’t require front number plates on their cars. That seems bizarre to me, but Sharon said it was the poorer provinces, to save money.

Here’s a tunnel under the Fraser River in Vancouver.

Seems crazy that they don’t have an emergency lane. How would they clear the tunnel if someone had an accident?

We had to take the ferry to Vancouver Island. We grabbed lunch and then we sat by a window.

Megan was following the course of the ferry, on a map on her phone, while I sat and wrote this post, looking out of the window now and then to enjoy the scenery. Once I finished, I took a nap with my head down on the table. People kept coming up and asking Megan if I was all right, which spoiled the nap a little. But I felt rejuvenated once we got back on the coach.

I was worried about Poppy. Georgia had to take her to the vet because she wasn’t eating, which for Poppy is UNTHINKABLE.

This is the photo Georgia sent me as proof of life. She’s now on a course of antibiotics and we’re waiting to hear the results of the blood tests. Our vet is very ‘hands-off’ when it comes to ordering expensive tests, so the fact that Poppy had them is making me even more worried.

She’s my shadow.

Anyway, I can’t do anything about it from here and I trust Georgia implicitly with the dogs so they’re in the best hands. Georgia said that Jeffrey doesn’t have a care in the world, but Scout is sticking closely to Poppy.

We went to Butchart Gardens, where even the rubbish bins are pretty.

This was a fabulous place. A rich family moved here in the mid-1880’s and ran a quarry right near the house that they lived in. When the quarry was empty, there was a great big hole left. What an eyesore!

Mrs Jenny Butchart bet her husband Robert 25c that she could create a beautiful garden there. Safe to say, she won the bet.

It shows what money can do. There’s no denying that she had the vision to see what could be done. But she had the money behind her to make it happen.

She laid rocks around where the garden beds were to be, then had tip trucks full of topsoil come and dump their loads to create the canvas for the garden.

She had guts. When the garden beds were completed, the bare walls of the old quarry looked awful. So she swung from ropes as she went down the sides of the quarry, putting some soil and a vine in every hole and crevice that she could.

It transformed the place.

We bumped into the couple who were chased by the bear yesterday. He showed me a picture of how close the bear got. Mehgan moved away, and I had to listen to his ideas about how much this garden would be worth if the heirs sold it all to create housing.

“I reckon there’d be at least 50 million,” he said. “Imagine getting your hands on all that money?”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” I said. “It seems like there’s it’s a family legacy.”

“But there’s always one grandchild who wants to get their hands on the money,” he argued.

“Yes, but it looks like there’s always one who wants to carry the legacy onwards. Sharon said there’s a great-granddaughter running the place now,” I said.

It was strange. Amid such beauty and obvious dedication to the upkeep, all he could see was dollar signs.

As time went on, the Butcharts expanded the garden by buying more land around them. There was also a formal Italian garden that they put on top of their tennis court.

I think they got a little bit carried away by this stage.

I saw a gardener and went over to have a chat. The garden is full of flowers and the gardeners are committed to making sure that whatever the season, the place will be full of colour and fragrance.

They achieve this by extensive use of annuals, overplanting them around the permanent plants.

They don’t plant anything unless it has at least a couple of flowers out. These plants will last until October, when they’ll be pulled out and something else will take their place.

A Monkey-Puzzle tree! I remember this from the estate we went to in Ireland. The Victorians loved them.

Here’s one that Megan spotted, covered with blossoms.

The gardens were dotted with water features. Here’s Megan, enraptured by the dragon.

I was very excited by this one. My first Redwood!

I liked the line of tiles on the steps here. Maybe I could try this at home?

See how the boar’s snout is gold? You get good luck from touching it. I, of course, am Fortunate Frogdancer so I’m already lucky, but I loaded up on some more luck, just in case.

Megan’s loading up on good luck too.

There was colour everywhere.

And I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I like a good sculpture.

Here’s the one that was in the background of the previous photo. Hermes was the messenger for the gods of ancient Greece.

It’s a pity that a bird pooed on his shoulder.

Everyone kept talking about the signature Blue Poppies that these gardens are renowned for. When I finally tracked them down after asking if any were blooming, to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed.

I thought they’d be a cornflower blue, instead of this more subtle shade.

I liked how the lanterns were the same shade as the wisteria. I had no idea it came in yellow!

I love azaleas.

These were massive.

I also ran a little mad in the gift shop:

Some silver earrings, and…

… these wonderful ceramic numbers for The Best House in Melbourne.

All I have to do is figure out how to attach them to the fence…

That’s all for today. We have a free day in Victoria, Vancouver Island tomorrow.

(Well, I have a free AFTERNOON. Megan is out whale-watching while I’ve been getting this blog up to date. It’s 11:50 now. I’m going to jump into the shower and then go and explore Victoria!)

Our tour ends tomorrow. Amazing how quickly it’s passed.

Dad joke of the day:


  1. Katie from Q

    Gosh I haven’t commented on your blog in ages (although I always read it). Your photos are beautiful. We’ve just come back from Japan and saw lots of beautiful gardens too. I hope Poppy is fine.

    • FrogdancerJones

      What a lovely comment.
      Poppy has been at the emergency vet after a seizure. She’s home now( with 3/4 of my kids there to welcome her) but she’s not out of the woods yet.

  2. sandyg61

    I hope Poppy is doing well.
    You certainly had a whirlwind tour of that part of Canada. Loved all of the memories.

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