By Pam Hobbs

"Gardens," the old man said softly, "are like women. They improve with age." I had joined him on the seat to change my film, not to get into a philosophical discussion. Nonetheless I agreed that the garden spread before us was far more beautiful than I had remembered. Maturity, autumnal colors spotlighted by an Indian summer sun, and absence of holiday crowds all contributed to the magic of Butchart Gardens that October afternoon.

Located on Tod Inlet, some 12 miles (19km) from downtown Victoria, the gardens cover 50 acres (20ha) of the Butchart estate. At this time of the year they are awash with copper and brass colored chrysanthemums nudging their tousled heads. Marigolds, like thick bands of gold bordering a green scarf. Dahlias, single and double blooms in purples and pinks, magentas and mauves, swaying with the slightest breeze. The rose garden isn't at its best right now but the perfume lingers. It's like walking through a great bowl of pot-pourri freshly released from plastic wrap............

Story (900 words) descibes gardens, facilities including restaurants, ending::

IF YOU GO:- Hours are 9 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. in July and August, 9.00 p.m. in June and 5.00 p.m. in the other months For more information telephone (250) 652-5256 for a recording 24 hours a day, or (250) 652-4422 during business hours. Also the website