At first glance, the Butchart Gardens appear lavish and theatrical ― a sort of horticultural Hollywood. But look closely and you'll find plenty of ideas to adapt in your own garden.
Hang baskets from a trellis. For interest at eye level, fll moss-lined wire baskets with bright annuals such as petunias, then hang them from a trellis as shown here, in the Rose Garden.
Pair plants for color. Plant blue forget-me-nots among pink double tulips for a spring show like this. For fall, plant red dahlias and yellow coneflowers in front of crimson liquidambar and golden black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia').
Encourage natural touches. When moss carpets trees and rocks, it looks woodsy.
Get creative with containers. Even plants grown primarily for their foliage can make great focal points if paired for contrasting leaf size and texture. Above, an elephant's ear fans out its big, smooth leaves above bacopa's delicate tracery; begonias add a splash of color.
Frame a view. If you're lucky enough to have a view like Butchart Cove, but a hedge or tree is in the way, prune a "window" in the greenery. ― Fiona Gilsenan
The Butchart Gardens are located at 800 Benvenuto Ave., Brentwood Bay, 13 miles north of Victoria, B.C., on the Saanich Peninsula. Take Hwy. 17 north 10 miles; veer northwest onto Keating Cross Rd., which turns into Benvenuto, and continue to the gardens (about 3 miles from the highway). You can reach Vancouver Island by ferry from Tsawwassen, B.C., or Port Angeles, WA; by hydrofoil ( Victoria Clipper) from Seattle; or by plane. www.butchartgardens.com, (866) 652-4422, or (250) 652-4422.
Choices include the Coffee Shop (open year-round), the Blue Poppy Restaurant (sandwiches and salads; days open vary by season), and the Dining Room Restaurant (high tea, lunch, and dinner; days open vary by season). Check hours online or by phone (see above).
Historical garden photographs are displayed at 16 sites throughout the gardens.