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Humor March 2014

Ernie's World

The Pit and the Petunia

By Ernie Witham

No, that's Busch Gardens. Butchart Gardens is world-renowned for its thousands and thousands of flowers and unique shrubs on more than 50 acres. It has been in bloom for more than 100 years!

Recently, we journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia  –  a reasonably short plane ride from Santa Barbara, California, that the airlines managed to turn into an all-day affair. So, finally, we were having a much-deserved drink at the famous Empress Hotel.

"This tequila tastes like tea!" I said to my wife.

"It is. Hence the name 'High Tea.'"

"Guess that would explain why we got cookies instead of nachos."

"Those are biscuits – as in tea and biscuits. What are you reading?" she asked.

"Horoscope. Today's says we'll be going on a wild adventure."

"Well, I don't normally agree with those things, but it's true. Tomorrow we are going to Butchart Gardens."

"Butchart  Gardens! The amusement park with all the roller coasters? Cool!”

"No, that's Busch Gardens. Butchart Gardens is world-renowned for its thousands and thousands of flowers and unique shrubs on more than 50 acres. It has been in bloom for more than 100 years!"

My wife was so excited, I decided any further comment such as stabbing myself with a dessert fork would not be wise, so I gulped down the rest of my tea and daintily rubbed my sleeve across my mouth. "Can't wait," I said.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival at Butchart Gardens was that the parking lot was enormous and the rows were all marked with signs of animals.

We were in camel row.

"You sure there are no rides? A Ferris wheel maybe? Tilt-a-whirl? Bungee jump?"

"Nope. But it says in the brochure they get a million visitors a year," my wife said.


I want to take a moment here to state that I do like flowers, shrubs and trees. I'm not some kind of anti-nature rube that doesn't know a rose from another type of flower. "Look at the size of these geraniums," I said loudly so that everyone would know there was a classy guy in the house, er, garden.

"Those are hydrangeas," my wife whispered.

"Look at the size of these hydrangeas," I said loudly.

"They have an amazing sunken garden here," my wife said.

"Is that because of all the rainfall?"

"Ah, no." She seemed ready to explain it, then just said: "This way."

I have to admit that the sunken garden alone was worth the price of admission. The most amazing part is the fact that the whole thing used to be a pit.

"Did you know?" I asked my wife, while reading the large placard out loud, so everyone could once again know I was a class ass, er, act, "that Robert Butchart was a pioneer in the cement industry? And in 1904 he developed this quarry and built a cement plant on Vancouver Island – which even if it's open for tours I don't think we'll have time to visit. Dang it." I'm sure my wife could see the sadness in my eyes. "When the 1906 earthquake leveled San Francisco, he made a fortune supplying cement to rebuild it. Kind of the fall and rise business plan."

"So you like the place?" my wife asked – one of those trick questions. A yes answer could mean visiting every garden in the Western and Eastern world. A no could mean the same thing of course, but without the after-culture-glow romance part. "Right," I said.

"Says here his wife Jennie, who was the company's chemist and helped establish a family home nearby, decided when the limestone deposit became exhausted, she could make the gigantic pit into a garden.

Kind of like you did with our back patio on numerous occasions." I started to develop calluses and a sore back just thinking about it. "I'm betting Robert missed many a Sunday afternoon football game."

"I'm glad you are so interested, really, but do you have to take photos of every square inch? We still have the Italian, Rose and Japanese sections to visit.

"There's more?! I mean, great, only I'll bet you'd like a beer break."

"Actually, that sounds great." Wow. I just never know sometimes.

Three hours and several hundred miles later we headed back for the car. "I guess we've done 'everything' in Canada now, huh?" I said.

"All except the Royal British Columbia Museum," she said. "We have to get there early tomorrow. I hear it takes all day to see everything."

"After-culture-glow," I kept telling myself. "After-culture-glow."


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