Winter on Vancouver Island usually means one thing – rain, rain, and more rain! I’ve tried to make friends with this wet stuff. Honestly, I have. Sadly, my attempts have always been short-lived. The frequent reminder that “you don’t need to shovel rain” doesn’t help. It’s hard to blame me. Here’s a sample of our weather forecast for the next 24-hours:
An intense front will approach the south coast tonight bringing strong winds and heavy rain. Rain will spread throughout the south coast by this evening and become heavy overnight. Heavy rain is forecast to continue with total amounts near 80 mm by the next morning. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Winds up to 80 km/h expected tonight. (Environment Canada – Public Alerts)
In the spirit of never surrendering, I bring you this series of my (old and new) favourite things to do in the winter on Vancouver Island. I’ll start with a four-season local treasure that has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
BUTCHART GARDENS, Brentwood Bay (Victoria)
Never underestimate the power of one woman with passion and a vision.
In 1904, Robert and Jennie Butchart moved from Ontario to Vancouver Island to build a cement plant on the rich limestone at Tod Inlet. In 1912, when the limestone deposits had been largely depleted, Jennie envisioned a sizeable sunken garden at the site of the quarry. She began transferring soil by horse and cart.
Today, Jennie’s garden is owned by her family members who have continued to add to its offerings. There are currently fifty-five acres of gardens, nine hundred bedding plant varieties and over one million visitors per year. There’s even a carousel…and weekly summer fireworks! The busiest time for the gardens is spring/summer when a large variety of plants are in full bloom. However, the gardens are open all year round and include a magnificent Christmas Light display from December 1 – January 6.
Richard’s and my late November visit was perfect for us having much of the gardens to ourselves while being immersed in enchantment and tranquility. At this time of year, you might imagine these historic gardens to be drab and colourless.
I can assure you that they were anything but….
Although stacks of see-through umbrellas were available to us immediately upon arrival, the rain miraculously held off during our entire visit. Storms did start up again shortly after we had reached our car, but I was so zenned out from our trip to the gardens, that I really didn’t mind.
My plan to focus on (and post about) winter activities that I love, might just be the thing to help me make friends with rain. Please stay tuned!