From ugly to beautiful? Why not?

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 14, 2017

The Butchart Gardens, once just an unsightly quarry, now glow day and night in the glory of vision, passion and floral beauty. Photos by Mary Anna Harbeck

Two weeks ago, Mary Anna and I spent a day at Vancouver Island’s awesome Butchart Gardens. It was actually a side trip while attending the wedding of our son Reg and new daughter-in-law Kristen. And yes, that was awesome, too!

While enjoying the design and vibrant foliage of the gardens, I got to thinking over the saying I wrote about in my Aug. 31 column: “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

It occurred to me that The Butchart Gardens was a breathtaking contradiction to such dismissive nonsense! In fact, it offered a giant exclamation point on a saying attributed to the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” How so?

In 1904 Robert Pim Butchart established a limestone quarry along Tod Inlet, north of Victoria. When the limestone deposits were exhausted, however, all that was left was a large unsightly pit. The family, seeing the sad state of affairs, decided to do something positive about it. They began converting the pit into a sunken garden.

Today, the attraction features more than a million plants in over 900 varieties and draws visitors from around the world.

And yes, my wife and I were delighted to be two of them. What did we see? Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So two pictures should be even better, right?

Mary Anna took the midday photo of the Sunken Garden accompanying this column. The difference between what this area used to be and what it is now is like night and day.

Except, of course, if you’re also viewing the same gardens in the evening, when the lighting adds its own magic.

A coffee-cup toast to the Butchart family for dreaming things that never were and saying, why not?


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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