Jennie Butchart

Gardener of Dreams

By (author): Haley Healey
Illustrated by: Kimiko Fraser
ISBN 9781772034813
Hardcover | Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Book Dimensions: 9 in. x 9 in.
32 Pages
$19.95 CAD
E-Book Price: $9.99 CAD

About the Book

The unlikely true story of Jennie Butchart, who saw the possibility of beauty in a hole in the ground and built a public garden that attracts millions of visitors from around the world.

There was a time when Jennie Butchart (1866–1950) knew nothing about gardening. She knew about chemistry and a little about business, which came in handy when she and her husband ran a cement plant on Vancouver Island. But their business venture turned into an eyesore when the quarry near their house ran out of limestone, leaving a huge, ugly pit in the ground. Every day, Jennie stared at the pit in frustration. She wished there was a way to make it beautiful. Then one day, she had an idea.

Little by little, Jennie worked to make her vision a reality. She read books about gardening, gathered seeds from around the world, and hired the best plant experts she could find. Jennie and her team slowly transformed the barren hole into an enchanting public garden, bursting with colour and life! The story of Jennie’s brilliant idea to transform a barren pit into the world-famous Butchart Gardens is beautifully illustrated for children. Jennie Butchart: Gardener of Dreams inspires young readers to see the potential in the most unlikely of places.

About the Author(s)

Haley Healey is a high school counsellor, registered clinical counsellor, and the bestselling author of of books for all ages about extraordinary historical women. Her books include the Trailblazing Canadians series; Her Courage Rises (a finalist for the 2023 Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize); On Their Own Terms: True Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island; and Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island. A self-proclaimed trailblazing woman herself, she enjoys exploring Vancouver Island’s trails, waters, and wilderness. She has an avid interest in wild places and lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Kimiko Fraser is an illustrator and historian-in-training. She grew up constantly making—drawing, painting, knitting, sculpting, bookbinding, etc.—and has never learned how to stop. She is the illustrator of Her Courage Rises: 50 Trailblazing Women of British Columbia and the Yukon and the Trailblazing Canadians Series. She holds a bachelor of arts (honours History, major Visual Arts) from the University of Victoria. She works with many mediums to create her illustrations, including watercolour, digital, ink, and tea. Most of her work is inspired by her interest in plants, history, and folktales.


“Through clear and confident prose and vibrant illustrations that evoke old-world charm, Haley and Kimiko tell the true story of Jennie Butchart, a visionary gardener whose dream transformed into the living legacy of Butchart Gardens in Canada. Young readers will be inspired to create beauty in the most unexpected places.”
—Rina Singh, author of Imagine a Garden
“This book shows the wild possibilities that lie waiting just beneath the surface, and all the vibrancy and life that can spring from one woman’s creative vision. An inspiring story for young people with big ideas.”
—Jon-Erik Lappano, Governor General’s Award-winning author of Tokyo Digs a Garden and other books for children
“The chemist Jennie Butchart discovered that alchemy is a form of magic, what author Haley Healey and illustrator Kimiko Fraser bring to her story, the transformation of ruin into beauty. Their exquisitely painted portrait is an affirmation for children of all ages. Masterpieces can be created in negative spaces when imagination rules.”
—Linda Rogers, Canadian People's Poet and Past Victoria Poet Laureate and author of illustrated poetry, fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults
“The origin story of one of our most famous gardeners is brought to life by Haley Healey and Kimiko Fraser with painterly illustrations, that gardeners of any age will enjoy. Jennie Butchart’s inspiring tale will add water and sunlight to the dreams of a future generation of gardeners.”
—Mark Bradley, Producer/Editor of 291 Film Company’s documentary series’ “Visionary Gardeners” and “Ageless Gardens”
“The story of Jennie Butchart is an inspiration that needs to be told. She saw beauty where no one else did. She imagined a public place that would inspire Canadians from every corner of the country. She achieved the unimaginable feat of creating a world class show garden in a disused gravel pit that is now more than 100 years old and attracts over a million people per year. Jennie Butchart is a Canadian hero, and this book, Jennie Butchart: Gardener of Dreams will engage readers of any age. All of us can now be inspired by her story.”
—Mark Cullen, garden writer and broadcaster
“This is a charming and beautifully illustrated children’s book that captures the creative spirit of Jennie Butchart. It nicely conveys her vision to develop one of the world’s great gardens from an old limestone quarry.”
—Brian Minter, horticulturist, garden writer, CBC garden columnist, recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of BC