Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Invigorated by Springtime, Eh?
I seem to have a string of "awesome nature" posts going here, so I cannot resist touting my most recent communing with the bounties of spring. One might have said the Mounties of spring, since this close encounter of the plant kind happened over this last weekend in...Canada, eh?
Butchart Garden, located a pleasant half-hour bus ride outside Victoria, BC on Tod Inlet, is 55 acres that, according to their brochure, "began [in 1906] with an idea by Jennie Butchart to beautify a worked-out limestone quarry which had supplied her husband Robert Pim Butchart's nearby Portland cement plant." The quarry was dug with a mind toward profit--less valuable streaks of limestone were left as pillars and dug around, creating a moonscape bowl of rock transformed into what is now the Sunken Garden (photo, left). The surrounding acres indulged Mrs. Butchart's gardening hobby by becoming the Japanese, Italian, rose, and side gardens and an expanse with fountains where concerts are held on the lawn.
Sounds nice, the kind of thing you'd take your grandmother to...eh? Then why did we make a rather expensive pilgrimage there with the family, timed precisely for THIS last weekend? I'm no grandmother (yet!). And I'm not the only one in my family who appreciates the eye candy of flowers--but we came the first weekend in May to see my passion, my delight...tulips.
You've already read about the breathtaking vistas at the Skagit Valley, where the fields striped in brilliant colors stretch to the horizon. This is nothing like that. Butchart Gardens is the Disneyland of horticulture--if there are tulips, they're monster-sized, crazily-shaped or wildly-colored, and always under-planted with little BLUE flowers. Blue is everywhere at Butchart, which is famous for its blue poppies (in fact the restaurant there is called the Blue Poppy Cafe.) This trip we only saw a few of those precious and finicky blooms, but on my last visit, I thrilled at them from all angles (photo).
No, this trip was all about tulips. We saw deep rust-colored ones with "fringed" edges so sharp they looked like Venus Flytraps. We saw scarlet open-faced tulips with sun-yellow centers with a fillip of odd scarlet curly petal jutting forth from them (photo, below). We saw black tulips. And green tulips. All of such generous size, in such profusion, as to make me...gasp.
The weather was chilly, and rain fell as if from God's watering can, tipped and then righted with passing clouds. Available at every turn were clear plastic umbrellas, a logical choice as no one wants to miss the blooms drinking from the sky. After each cloudburst, the raindrops beaded on the petals, fresh and cool, and the flowers smiled again, aware of being even more photogenic in dewy newness.
A bus-ful of Japanese tourists, all quite small and brandishing cameras, shared my eagerness to capture the beauty on their photo cards (you can't say "on film" anymore). Watching them crouch, squat, stand on tiptoe and perch cameras on tripods was entertaining...but made me want to emulate their positions to find out exactly what it was they found so irresistible. Could it be the navy blue Columbine? Don't know...but being in this place where the earth's rebirth was so celebrated and God's ingenuity so obvious filled me with optimism and possibility. You must go to Butchart in May--and inhale springtime.