August 19-21, 2015, Sooke, BC

Wednesday morning we left Port Alberni and drove to Sooke, which is west of Victoria.  We are staying at Sooke River Campground along the Sooke River.  This nice little campground is owned by the Sooke Community Association. 

We can see the river out our back window.  During high tide the river is fairly high so we should be able to kayak from the campground.

Thursday morning we drove west on the West Coast Road to Port Renfrew and stopped at Botanical Beach Park.  Cody’s leg is getting better every day so we brought the dogs along to hike with us. We hiked through the rainforest to Botanical Beach which has some of the best tide pools in British Columbia.  We have noticed cute little owls on trees along many of the trails we have hiked.

The overlooks along the trail had beautiful views.

The forest had many crooked trees – we particularly liked this one.

We timed our hike so we would arrive on the beach at low tide so we could explore the tide pools.  Nancy and Cody looking in the tidal pools for barnacles and other intertidal creatures.  Cody and Camille both got wet from accidentally stepping into some of the pools – some of the small pools were surprisingly deep.

This beach is beautiful – not much sand but lots of rocks during low tide and lots of tide pools.

We enjoyed sitting and watching the waves rolling in and crashing on the rocks.  We don’t think it will be long before the incoming tide completely covers the rocks and tide pools.

On the way back up the trail we stopped at Botany Bay – another beautiful beach.  When the tide comes in this must be a beautiful little island.

After our hike as we were driving to China Beach for another hike we found this owl sitting on the power lines over the road - we think it is a Spotted Grey Owl.  He sat there the whole time we watched him and looked our way when we made any noise.  When we got back on the road and drove off he was still sitting on the power line waiting for the next tourists.

We took another short hike through the forest to reach China Beach – a beautiful sandy beach with lots of shells and driftwood. 

We really enjoyed our hikes and the beaches.  The west coast of Vancouver Island is beautiful and definitely wilder than the east coast.

Friday we visited Butchart Gardens which is north of Victoria.  Butchart Gardens is beautiful – even the parking lots are surrounded by flowers and  plants. The gardens cover more than 55 acres of the 130 acre Butchart estate.  It began from an idea Jennie Butchart had to beautify the worked-out limestone quarry which had supplied her husband Robert Pim Butchart’s nearby Portland cement plant.  Over the years the Butcharts continually expanded the gardens to become what we see today.   The gardens are still owned and operated by the Butchart family.  One of the other visitors to the gardens was kind enough to take our picture under the sign – unfortunately, he cut off the top of the sign.

We have so many beautiful pictures that it is hard to pick a few to show here – these are some of our favorite pictures.  These beautiful and huge begonias were in hanging pots in the Hanging Garden - the begonias I grew in Colorado were never this big.

In 2004 the garden, in bloom for 100 years, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.  The Sunken Garden was beautiful and so large we couldn’t get it all in from the top of the stairs leading down into the garden.  Further up the hillside behind this garden is a tall kiln stack, all that remains of the cement plant.

This beautiful fountain called Ross Fountain was created and installed in 1964 by Ian Ross, the Butchart’s grandson.  The water rises 70 ft. and changes shape each time it erupts.

The Rose Garden was spectacular but too big to get into one picture so we picked a couple of our favorite roses to show.

 The Rose Garden is at its most beautiful in July and August and we are very glad we get to see it in full bloom.

This was the Butchart’s home – now the Dining Room Restaurant.

This was Jennie Butchart’s first garden which is in a secluded area beside the house.  This is the only garden that is not open to the public but there was a window in the fence giving us a glimpse of this beautiful area.  The garden has been kept the same as when Jennie first had it installed.

The colors in the Italian Garden were so bright and vivid against the beautiful hedge background.  Before 1926 this area was the Butchart’s concrete-surfaced tennis court.  

We also saw the Japanese Garden, Star Pond and Mediterranean Garden.  After spending the morning walking through these spectacular gardens we had lunch in the Blue Poppy Restaurant.  We then browsed in the gift shop buying a t-shirt and a pair of earrings.  On the way to the parking lot we stopped at this beautiful pond and sat on a bench enjoying the splendid Cannas in boom.   

We really enjoyed these beautiful gardens and can hardly believe that this was once a limestone quarry.  We would love to see what flowers and plants bloom at different times of the year.  We can’t imagine how hard it is to keep the gardens so beautiful during the drought this summer.   On the way back to Sooke, we stopped at the Sea Cider Farm and Cider House and sampled some cider - unfortunately, none of their ciders were to our taste.  Our drive back to Sooke through the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria was beautiful.  We took the back roads through farmland and forests.


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