Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, now living in Dominica, W.I., founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Archive for May, 2012

Barton & Leier Gallery and Garden – Yellowpoint, Ladysmith, BC, Canada

When traveling – be it close to home or far away – we are always on lookout for interesting gardens. This time we were going for a weekend trip up Vancouver Island, here in British Columbia, Canada.
We wanted to see Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach, advertised as very extensive and interesting, with hundreds of rhododendrons and other attractive plants. That will be theme of my next post, but today I want to share with you impressions from another garden we visited on this trip – a small jewel near Ladysmith, between Victoria and Nanaimo.

We found information about this unique place on-line. Created and cared for by couple of successful Canadian artists Nixie Barton and Grant Leier over last 18 years, it is simply extraordinary. It is also where their studio and gallery shop are located. So, we decided to stop for a short visit.
Well, this place did not disappoint, and our visit was much longer than expected. We were kindly allowed to enter and photograph even private parts of this unique garden, and our visual feast begun. From the very first moment, you sense really good and happy vibrations surrounding this garden. Creators had to feel really free and happy to come up with so many unusual ideas, making this place a visual orgy stimulating your mind. Not only it was cleverly planned with many unexpected vistas opening at every corner and angle, but the slightly crazy and untamed style of decoration proves to you at every point that really anything is possible in this place.
The flamboyant, artistic expression, and use of most eccentric props for decoration brought to mind another amazing garden – the famous Hunte’s Garden in Barbados, where the Maestro Hunte did let his imagination loose, and every step on his garden’s path opens new unexpected possibilities bringing new flavours. (You can find more on Hunte’s Garden in our recent coffee table book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean).
Indeed, we felt a similar way of creative thinking here, at Barton & Leier Garden.

Only a free spirit, someone who lets one’s imagination fly high can come up with such colorful, inspirational and amazing space. From little décor pieces like a dozen of tiny elephants nailed onto a wooden rail, or a purple hippo immersed in garden pond, through impressive green painted human heads, and faces mounted in surprising locations – to a real yellow school bus – the garden is full of lively surprises impacting you on every step. Even the door to artists’ studio is decorated so extensively that it is hard to find an inch of bare space on it.
Once you enjoyed all amazing surprises in the garden full of scents, rich bloom and extravagant decor, you can enter the gallery – which feels like total continuation of the festive feel of outdoors. Really fine paintings created with great artistry and taste, colorful collages and other art work are offered for sale together with attractive and unusual trinkets, as well as with garden décor pieces you just saw outside the gallery.

We were sad to hear this slightly surreal masterpiece of garden and gallery enjoys its last season here , as the gallery and studio will be moved to Nanaimo. Well, at least we had the chance to see it at its final eighteenth season of activity.

If you have time – try to go there until it is still open. You may find here just the right piece of art for your home, and the garden’s sheer brilliance will surely cheer you up!

Barton and Leier Gallery Web site link.

More photographs we took when visiting this fun place.

Thank you for stopping by. As always, if you like it – click “share’ or “like” button. and, check us soon for more posts. Cheers!

All photographs copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books – no usage without written authorization please.

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