Butchart Gardens employs a core staff of 50 gardeners to maintain the beautiful borders and beds. This number swells to about 70 with the addition of part-time workers in summer.
The bulk of the tens of thousands of bedding plants used to create the colourful displays each summer are grown in Butchart’s own private 26 greenhouses, which are run by a team of 16.
The garden has two full-time arborists and four people who run the shrub and tree nursery.
Gardeners are given a specific area to look after, with the areas carefully identified by number so they know precisely where work needs to be done.
Key summer bedding plants include pelargoniums, petunias, heliotrope, snapdragons and begonias. The garden uses more than 900 cultivars of bedding plants in beds as well as hanging baskets and containers.
Flowers are deadheaded precisely so no cut stem is left showing and all faded or decaying foliage is removed quickly to keep displays looking pristine.
Supervisors start work at 5:45 a.m. and quickly tour their section of the garden to see what needs to be done before dispatching gardeners at 6 o’clock.
No city tap water is used to water plants. All water comes from a reservoir at the smaller former lime quarry nearby as well as water in Ross Fountain and a few other natural water sources.
An integrated pest management program has been in place for years to control pests in greenhouses; herbicides are no longer used in the garden where more and more organic products are being tested and compost teas used to promote healthy growth.
However, fungicide is still used in the rose garden. Rick Los, the horticultural manger, says this is necessary: "You can’t grow show-quality roses in our climate without using fungicide."
An idea to introduce audio-tours, allowing visitors to wear a headset to tour the garden, was rejected because it was felt that people would be missing an important aspect of the garden by being "disconnected’ from the garden through wearing headphones.
The garden covers 22 hectares (55 acres), which is part of 54.6-hectare (135-acre) parcel of land owned by the company.