Pianos and pansies? What does that mean, you ask? In our time RVing, we’ve come across a few oddities – weird statues, eclectic people, comedic squirrels. Our first double take was a (poorly) tuned piano in Rossland, BC in 2016. Our son saddled up to it and played his favourite tune. Which in turn, inspired other budding pianists in the area to tickle the ivories when he was done.
So imagine our delight when we passed a brightly painted piano in Oak Bay! Of course we pulled over and suggested our son play his current set list (a series of 5 songs as he’d taken his Level One RCM exam two weeks before). It was amazing! The first piano was set along the side of the road in a small park setting in a beautiful residential neighbourhood. We did some Googling as there was an indication that it may not be the only piano in the area.
Turns out, there were FOUR* pianos in Oak Bay! As part of their plan to have more public art in the area, 2017 was their fourth year to have the pianos out and about in the neighbourhoods of the small municipality on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Located along the scenic Beach Drive, the indicated five locations were Turkey Head, Loon Bay Park, Cattle Point, Willows Park and Estevan Village. We now had a mission – would we find all of them before we left the Island in the morning?
One was deserted when we found it, another was being played when we pulled up (to which I exclaimed “Look! I’m not the only Mom who makes their kid play!”). The pianos were well tuned and each had it’s own cover. The pianos are covered each night and uncovered each morning by volunteers. Of the two we found, the Canadian themed one was probably our favourite – in part because it looks over the ocean (Oak Bay) – how incredibly perfect. We were serenaded by a man who happened upon the first one we found while we were exploring the beach just below. He was a very accomplished singer and pianist. It was a wonderful experience for all of us – because art should be enjoyed. Thank you Oak Bay for the beautiful and thoughtful art projects found throughout your community!
Many will tell you that a visit to Victoria is not complete without a stop at Butchart Gardens. A national historic site and with gardens dating back to the early 1900’s, it is a site well worth the drive! It is not located in Victoria proper and it is a bit of a strange drive to find the gardens but it is an amazing and immaculate oasis tucked away deep on the Saanich Inlet.
The site of their depleted limestone mine, Mrs. Butchart set about reclaiming the quarry by creating a sunken garden. Originally hauling top soil in by horse and cart in 1912, by 1929, she had created the sunken garden, Japanese garden, and Italian garden and the sprawling rose garden. In 1939, Mrs. Butchart’s grandson took ownership of the gardens and transformed it into a tourist destination.
With over one million plants, night lighting, music concerts, restaurants, cafes and year round activities, the Butchart Gardens is one of the most romantic and peaceful places we’ve visited. Since it’s inception, the gardens have continued to grow and include new garden and natural areas, water features, a concert venue, boat tours and a beautiful merry-go-round! The gardens are owned by the great grandchildren of the Butchart’s and operate all year long.
Thank you, Vancouver Island – for the most memorable two weeks we’ve ever enjoyed. See you next time! xo
*Our initial search told us four – when doing some research for this piece, we discovered there were actually five.