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tutuwahineLV

Butchart Gardens, too early for blooms?

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Hello,   We will be stopping in Victoria next May near the end of our cruise. May 9 actually,  will the gardens be in their full spring glory? or is this still a little early?   

Our stop is from noon to 8p, so we have plenty of time to visit, but wondering if it will be worth it that early in 'the season' 

 

Also, will there be tours or shuttles available pier-side? or should we just go with what the ship will offer? 

Thanks for your suggestions

 

Tutu

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Personally I think May is the best month to visit Butchart - even if there has been a very long winter it's sheltered nature ensures that many traditional spring blooms will be looking good (but they haven't jacked up the rates to 'high' season yet). But then I can only back up my opinion with a degree in Botany, a dad who still hasn't quite retired from working as a gardener, and a grandad who forced me to trim the lawn around his prized flower beds with a pair of scissors lest vibrations from the big mower knock off any delicate blooms - so I may not have a Scooby compared to the average cruiser 😉

 

Shuttles run year-round from downtown outside the Empress, for a hefty discount compared to ship tours (<$80pp Canadian) AND allow you to spend longer at the gardens so they are definitely a win-win in comparison. Ship tours pick up at the pier - which is maybe a $10 cab ride from the CVS bus stop - so unless they're giving you 3 hours on site and charging <US$70 they simply aren't worth taking.

 

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16 hours ago, martincath said:

Personally I think May is the best month to visit Butchart - even if there has been a very long winter it's sheltered nature ensures that many traditional spring blooms will be looking good (but they haven't jacked up the rates to 'high' season yet). But then I can only back up my opinion with a degree in Botany, a dad who still hasn't quite retired from working as a gardener, and a grandad who forced me to trim the lawn around his prized flower beds with a pair of scissors lest vibrations from the big mower knock off any delicate blooms - so I may not have a Scooby compared to the average cruiser 😉

 

Shuttles run year-round from downtown outside the Empress, for a hefty discount compared to ship tours (<$80pp Canadian) AND allow you to spend longer at the gardens so they are definitely a win-win in comparison. Ship tours pick up at the pier - which is maybe a $10 cab ride from the CVS bus stop - so unless they're giving you 3 hours on site and charging <US$70 they simply aren't worth taking.

 

 

Botany was not my favorite bio course, but I do love gardening and visiting gardens. We went in late September, and the annual beds were great but the roses were past their prime. I'm hoping to see them blooming more profusely in late June. 

 

I agree about the ship's tour. It doesn't allow enough time to see all the gardens. We felt rushed and were constantly checking the time to allow for the walk back to the bus. The guide was emphatic about not waiting for anyone,and we did leave on time. 

 

This time I'm doing the CVS tour. I'll check on the ship's shuttle bus into town, but I'll probably end up taking a taxi just to be sure I have time to exchange the voucher for the bus/garden ticket. I'm a little concerned about getting a seat for a return bus, but CVS assured me that won't be a problem. 

 

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38 minutes ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

... roses were past their prime. I'm hoping to see them blooming more profusely in late June. 

...This time I'm doing the CVS tour. I'll check on the ship's shuttle bus into town, but I'll probably end up taking a taxi just to be sure I have time to exchange the voucher for the bus/garden ticket. I'm a little concerned about getting a seat for a return bus, but CVS assured me that won't be a problem.

Ship shuttles into town are running $15pp these days according to reports from this season - so for a solo traveler they still offer a saving vs. a cab, but couples remain even more financially better off (and more flexible in timing and routing) by taking cabs instead.

 

I believe (don't take it as Gospel, reach out to confirm!) that in high season CVS ask folks to choose their preferred return time so they can better balance the busloads, but that they also keep count of how many returning pax there are on each shuttle - which gives them extremely accurate info on how many seats are required on the last shuttle run of the day. Where you might run into problems is if you want a bus that isn't the last bus, but e.g. a ton of folks on your ship are all aiming for the latest shuttle that's scheduled to arrive before 'all aboard' time...

 

Late June should definitely be much better for roses than September was, though IIRC Butchart's peak for those is usually early June. That sheltered, slightly further south than the mainland location gives them a bit of a jumpstart so they're really hitting their stride almost the same time as the Rose Garden down in Portland (where the annual Rose festival runs last week of May and first week of June). But there are enough different cultivars planted that there should be plenty of nice roses through at least the end of July. If you're also in Vancouver on this cruise, the rose gardens in Stanley Park, QEP and UBC (which are a bit more exposed than Butchart, especially QEP/UBC) peak later than Butchart does.

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May 9th, assuming normally good weather, should be a glorious time to be at the gardens as the Bulb show will be in full force.  This is my favourite time to visit other than Christmas and a summer Saturday fireworks evening.  The gardens plant over 300 000 bulbs every year and the colour is glorious and the smell of the Hyacinth is almost overwhelming.  Butchart is a show garden, not a botanical garden, so they will always have flowers in bloom.  Granted winter is a bit sparse but the gardens are open 365 days a year.  They have 12 gigantic greenhouses that are growing flowers for planting out at all time  I hope you enjoy your visit to Victoria and especially the Butchart Gardens.  

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1 hour ago, martincath said:

Ship shuttles into town are running $15pp these days according to reports from this season - so for a solo traveler they still offer a saving vs. a cab, but couples remain even more financially better off (and more flexible in timing and routing) by taking cabs instead.

 

I believe (don't take it as Gospel, reach out to confirm!) that in high season CVS ask folks to choose their preferred return time so they can better balance the busloads, but that they also keep count of how many returning pax there are on each shuttle - which gives them extremely accurate info on how many seats are required on the last shuttle run of the day. Where you might run into problems is if you want a bus that isn't the last bus, but e.g. a ton of folks on your ship are all aiming for the latest shuttle that's scheduled to arrive before 'all aboard' time...

 

Late June should definitely be much better for roses than September was, though IIRC Butchart's peak for those is usually early June. That sheltered, slightly further south than the mainland location gives them a bit of a jumpstart so they're really hitting their stride almost the same time as the Rose Garden down in Portland (where the annual Rose festival runs last week of May and first week of June). But there are enough different cultivars planted that there should be plenty of nice roses through at least the end of July. If you're also in Vancouver on this cruise, the rose gardens in Stanley Park, QEP and UBC (which are a bit more exposed than Butchart, especially QEP/UBC) peak later than Butchart does.

 

I'm hoping to catch the shuttle that's the one before the very last. I'll be happy to commit to that in order to be sure of a seat.

 

Thanks for the tip about Stanley Park. I've been to Vancouver before, but not to that garden. If the weather cooperates, I'll take a look. 

 

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Thank you for the information.  I'll make sure this is our Must Do for that port,  now to just decide how to get there.  I'll certainly check into CVS tours,  would a taxi there and back be an option?? 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, tutuwahineLV said:

Thank you for the information.  I'll make sure this is our Must Do for that port,  now to just decide how to get there.  I'll certainly check into CVS tours,  would a taxi there and back be an option?? 

The ships tours usually run between 99 US and 120 US depending on length and if there is a lunch, tea, or dinner provided at Butchart Gardens (BG).  BTW, the tea at the Gardens is as good as any in Victoria and less than half that at the "other" place. Taxis to BG can be had from either the terminal or downtown.  From the terminal will add about $10 cdn to the price.   I've never taken a taxi to BG but I have taken one to the airport which is past BG but about the same distance when you count the road taken.  That runs about 60-70 depending on traffic getting out of town, each direction.  That's about 45 to 55 US.  Entrance into BG is 33 dollars...ish.  Again about 25 US.   So if you are two in the party you're looking at an overall cost of 155 US dollars for the round trip including entrance to the Gardens.  So there is a saving to be had.  However if you have a restricted time frame to take the tour and the ship is only in port for 4 or 5 hours, you may be better off for piece of mind on the tour.  If you have a full day, as I did on a re-positioning cruise with Princess this May, there was no pressure to meet the late night departure time and you can stroll, sit, relax, eat, shop in the gift store which is pretty nice.  If you can find another couple then you will make out in spades for the savings of sharing the taxi.  Either way visiting Butchart Gardens is a must see if you have any love of gardens.  Rated consistently in the top 10 or 5 Gardens of the world.  It's worth it.  And all the taxis take plastic of all types (credit) so there is no need to stock up on cash.  And there is nothing you need cash for at the Gardens either.  Downside is that you're way too early for the rose garden.

Edited by Aesop081

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6 hours ago, martincath said:

That would be these guys!

This sounds perfect, thank you. I’ve been wringing my hands over the cost of getting to and from the Gardens on OUR time frame.

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I have been to Butchart Gardens in early April and in August.  There is always something wonderful to see.  We are going to be in Victoria in mid-October and I’m contemplating going for a 3rd time just to see what Fall looks like in the gardens.  

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On 7/2/2019 at 5:08 PM, bbstx said:

I have been to Butchart Gardens in early April and in August.  There is always something wonderful to see.  We are going to be in Victoria in mid-October and I’m contemplating going for a 3rd time just to see what Fall looks like in the gardens.  

I saw some October pictures and they were amazing! I would like to go then also.

 

May is always beautiful.

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Thank you for the priceless information.  I truly appreciate the wealth of knowledge that can be mined on these forums.  

Now I just have to have the patience to make it through till May. 

 

D

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