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 the ‘gardening’ Category

Ozone Zone Books on C-FAX radio talk show. Book giveaway.

Hello again, just sharing good news.
We were guests on air yesterday, talking about our award-winning book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean. It was fun and interesting talk show by Jeff de Jong, celebrated gardening expert on C-Fax radio here in Victoria, Canada. Because C-Fax is an AM station, it was aired in much of Canada and Northwest of USA.
To celebrate this nice surprise, we will be giving away a copy of this fine book getting 5-star reviews on Amazon. One copy went yesterday to a lucky listener – and another one will be given away here, on our blog!

But if you wish to get it, please be patient. We are now preparing and packing for our next photo trip – this time to the tiny Montserrat island!
It has active volcano, and I hope to do some interesting photographs to share with you soon. Back in two weeks!

We will share our travel stories in one of our next postings.
So, please follow us, and add your comment to our NEXT post. Your comment on our NEXT post will be your entry to win our giveaway FREE copy of
Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean – our thick, beautifully printed coffee table book available globally in better book stores and on Amazon international sites.

Thank you for stopping by, and don’t forget to Follow Us.
And, if you like this idea, SHARE it with friends.

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Abkhazi Garden – The Garden of Love. (Victoria, Canada)

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When we arrived at the entrance to Abkhazi Garden, we both stopped for a moment as if afraid to open the gate. The reason for our hesitation was clear enough for us: we wondered – is this garden still as beautiful as we remembered? Or perhaps it is now totally changed, or has fallen  into neglect? We had visited Abkhazi garden several times after it was saved from the developers. Our humble donation was only a tiny drop in an immensely successful and quite heroic public fund-raising campaign in 2000, which led to the acquisition of the garden by The Land Conservancy.

Unique benches look like they always been there as an important part of this garden.

Slowly, we stepped into the garden leaving the city street behind us. We found ourselves in a woodland, under towering old rhododendrons and native Garry Oaks underplanted with lush ferns and hostas. As we were slowly walking a winding path through the garden, all our fears completely disappeared. We noticed how splendid the garden looks, cared for not only with expertise and knowledge but also with love.

Beautifully created, this spot brings to mind large vase full of freshly cut flowers.

Love and passion are ever-present here, making it quite a magical place. It is “the garden that love built,” love between its creators: Peggy and Nickolas Abkhazi who shared the same passion for their new piece of paradise, a safe haven in their rather dramatic lives. After their death, it seems like that love was carried on by all the people whose hard work and dedication enable the garden to flourish.  One of the first were Christopher and Pamela Ball who continued to keep up this world-class garden for the next 10 years.

Fine bird bath at the first wide vista near entrance instantly adds to happy feel of the place.

When the land was submitted for rezoning, Cyril Hume, a garden historian led the fund-raising campaign and the garden restoration. All the head gardeners who came after him shared the same passion and devotion to the project. Today, the garden is in the capable hands of Jeff de Jong and a group of impressively skillful  volunteers. As a result, Abkhazi Garden is resplendently beautiful.

Jeff de Jong talks about the garden

“For me, gardening is a work of joy,” says Jeff. “What you love doing – it’s not work. It is for me a privilege and honour to take care of Abkhazi garden. Peggy and Nickolas are always on my mind. I ask myself: is it something that they would approve of? I recently planted Magnolia grandiflora knowing that Peggy loved it and had it in this garden. In order to honour the Abkhazis I thought it was the important plant to have. In this garden the challenge for me is to preserve its sense of history, and yet still progress and move forward.”

Ponds look like colorful jewels mounted in greenery of the garden.

We finished our garden tour inside Abkhazi house, built by John Wade in the style of simple modernism. Broad glass windows offer spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, while connecting the interior to the exterior spaces. Perhaps the most striking feature of the house is that organic flow with the surrounding landscape, perfected in architectural designs of the tropics. 

While working on our book ”Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”, we were often fascinated by architects who mastered this skill of seamless integration of outside and inside spaces, like Oliver Messel, or Lane Pettigrew. Standing on a stone-paved patio, we marvelled at the brilliant layout of the garden complementing the natural landscape.

Peggy’s wish was that the garden was going to be seen by the next generation” comments  Jeff.  “Thanks to the Land Conservancy, it’s going to be seen by even more generations to come.”

Story by Margaret Gajek
Photography by Derek Galon

Another view at the ponds, where on a sunny day you can spot sun bathing turtles…

Thank you for stopping by. If you like this post – please click SHARE button or other media button you use.
Until next time, cheers!


“Rhodos on the run” – Finnerty Gardens, Uvic, Victoria, Canada.

Finnerty gardens, UVic.When we have to move, we often take with us favourite plants from the garden. I remember  rhododendron “Anah Kruschke” travelling with us in a moving van, well secured  between futon and bamboo chairs. Transferring a few rhodos is not a big problem, but having to deal with an entire collection, including plants over 50 years old, is an enormous challenge.

The University of Victoria faced that challenge in 1974 when it received a notable collection of Rhododendron species from Jeanne Buchanan Simpson. She and her husband came to Cowichan Lake in 1912 and later bought a piece of land from the Stokers – amateur botanists, collectors of native and exotic plants. That land was full of fine plants – rhododendrons among them, mostly species. When Richard Stoker (brother of Bram Stoker, famous author of Dracula) died, the Simpsons bought their estate on Marble Bay and continued their work. Over the next 20 years, their garden grew to 200 varieties of rhododendrons, which was the largest collection in BC at that time.  By bequeathing the plants to the university – the Finnerty Gardens was born.

The new site for the garden was chosen at the south end of the university campus, onto which Rhododendrons were successfully transplanted with the efficient help of the Friends of University Gardens – a group of devoted volunteers. Unfortunately, rhodos didn’t like their new home, and they didn’t perform well. Therefore, in 1988 yet another move was decided for them: this time to a nearby space, 1.5 acres large, well drained and sheltered by native trees. More than three hundred plants made a trip, and this time their new home proved to be a happy one.

With plant donations coming from private people and nurseries, the garden continued to expand. In recent years, 126 plants made another heroic journey as a result of the second largest donation since Jeanne Simpson’s. They come from the Sooke garden of Dora and Bob Kreiss and contain stunning varieties of rare species, including amazing large-leafed rhodos with tea-cup sized flowers. The garden expanded in size and variety of plants, small and big, trees, shrubs, perennials. It now has such a rich mix of plants that we were dazzled, and enjoyed seeing some really rare treats. The generous 6-acres size of this garden brought to mind the fantastic Montreal Estate Gardens on St Vincent, one of the glorious gardens featured in our awarded coffee table book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean.

It is much more than just a rhodo garden, with picturesque ponds and several garden sections having unique character and feel.  Countless plants came from various locations to find a good home here.

Walking through the Finnerty Gardens today looks like all the plants have always been always there: they are well established, robust in their growth, splendid in appearance. It is one of the most popular gardens in Victoria, and yet it is very intimate, full of secluded nooks and crannies.

Sitting on a bench in one of these secluded spots and looking up, we admired the rich tapestry of colour and foliage, often dramatic and bold. Towering native trees are often used here as support for climbing vines, which made us feel we are in a woodland garden.

After spending a couple of hours exploring around and enjoying the clever design making this garden feel bigger than it actually is,  we realized Finnerty  has all components of the finest gardens: a sense of mystery, balance between light and shade, rhythm of space and enclosure, and a great garden design emphasizing “ a sense of place.”


In our garden, “Anah Kruschke” is thriving in its new spot.

Thank you for your visit. if you like it – please Share it with your friends, or follow our blog.
Until next time! Cheers!

Written by Margaret Gajek (art historian/researcher/author and keen gardener)
Photographs – as always – by Derek Galon
Gardens are located at University of Victoria grounds, admission is free.

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