Butchart Gardens’ new bronze dragon binds sister cities

Visitors to Butchart Gardens have one more reason to put the tourist attraction on their must-see list: a striking dragon fountain.

Butchart Gardens owner Robin Clarke and Sheng Lei, vice-mayor of the City of Suzhou, unveiled the bronze and granite sculpture in Waterwheel Square on Saturday. The dragon is a gift from the People’s Republic of China and Suzhou, Victoria’s sister city.

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Dignitaries — including Judith Guichon, lieutenant-governor of B.C., Liu Fei, consul general of the People’s Republic of China, and several government officials from Suzhou — witnessed the unveiling of the sculpture during a private ceremony.

A reception at the Blue Poppy Restaurant followed.

The presentation of the sculpture, which measures two metres by three metres and weighs more than 2.7 tonnes, was timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Suzhou and Victoria.

“Consul General Madame Liu Fei and officials from Beijing recognized the long-standing history the Butchart Gardens enjoys with Chinese people locally and within China,” said Dave Cowen, Butchart Gardens’ general manager.

“The dragon is a universally recognized symbol of China. We are very honoured to accept this magnificent gift and to welcome the Chinese delegation, local dignitaries and special guests on this happy occasion.”

Liu said the 54-acre gardens “represent a place where art, beauty and tranquility come together.”

“We are honoured that our gift to the Butchart Gardens will be enjoyed by all who visit these magnificent gardens — today, and for years to come.”

Since its inception in 1904, Butchart Gardens, a designated National Historic Site of Canada, has welcomed visitors from around the world, averaging more than one million visitors per year.

mreid@timescolonist.com

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