Independent Canadian book publishers working in Dominica, W.I. 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 ‘tropical gardens’ Category

Giraudel Flower Show 2016

_DAG8956-smWe were fortunate this year to attend the Giraudel Flower Show in Dominica, where we live now. This special event was held in the village of Giraudel situated on the slopes of Morne Anglais, one of the tallest mountains in the south. The village of Giraudel is known as the “flower basket” of Dominica.

At the entrance to the show

At the entrance to the show

Rich volcanic soil and frequent rains make ideal conditions for growing flowers and healthy vegetables this village is famous for. The Flower Show started in 1973 and grew out of local celebrations of Achievement Day, showcasing local produce, crafts and the best gardens. Since then it was run every second or third year with a bigger break after devastating hurricane David. _DAG8903sm

Sybil Alfred and Desmond Augustine at the Show.

Sybil Alfred and Desmond Augustine at the Show.

We, the Flower Grower Group, recently bought this piece of land and finally have a permanent home for the show,” explains Sybil Alfred- one of the organizers who is involved from the very beginning. “It is very much a community effort, everyone contributes in a different way and everyone is welcome – from small individual growers to commercial flower shops and gardens”.
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”We went into the small house containing flower arrangements. “This year’s general theme is ‘Flowers in a changing environment’”, says Sybil. “When you look around, you see trees being cut, too much garbage and destruction. We say- stop this and concentrate on natural beauty instead.” The display space is divided into sections with different themes and corresponding flower arrangements. Some of the themes are: “Prevent destruction”, “Protect nature’s diversity”, “Resilience”, “Bury careless damage”, “Eat local”, “Harmony with nature” and the last one: “We will bloom again.”

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The display is colourful and striking. Different varieties of Anthurium, Ginger and Costus are the most frequently used plants, together with Alstroemeria, Dahlia and Marigold. I really like a bouquet made of blue Agapanthus- these showy globes are three times bigger than what we grew in our garden in British Columbia, Canada. I truly started to be fond of these strong combination of reds, orange and yellow only when we begun to work on our book “Exotic Gardens of the Easter Caribbean”. As a gardener, I’ve always preferred pastels, whites and textural plants – but here, under tropical sun these vibrant colours really make a strong statement against the background of intensely green rainforest.

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We step outside into the sunshine and wonder around another section showing a variety of natural landscapes and different growing conditions on the island: from lush rainforest of the interior to dry Caribbean coast. This section is skilfully put together by Desmond Augustine, owner of the local plant nursery and a master florist. Here the display includes funky mannequins impersonating workers in the fields.
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But this is not everything: there is a tree house with ferns, a shade garden, a field of colourful zinnias, bromeliads… there is still so much to see! We had a wonderful time discovering all corners of the Giraudel Flower Show and ended up buying beautiful peace lily, spathiphyllum wallisii to be planted in our garden later on. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable Sunday afternoon.
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I wish you were here!
Until next time!
– Margaret.

If you enjoy this story, please SHARE, let your friends read it too!
Thanks!

Story by Margaret Gajek
Photos: Derek Galon, Ozone Zone. Please respect copyright.

Watching rainbows on a New Year’s day

 DSC04701-2  We’re renting an apartment high on the hills in a quaint village on Dominica island. Our apartment is small but it has a large terrace with a really stunning view of the capital town of Roseau surrounded by lush hills and Caribbean Sea. Usually, we have our breakfasts there. Sipping morning coffee we watch this awe-inspiring view in silence. It’s still a rainy season with occasional passing showers followed by periods of sunshine. DSC04094

From our vintage point, we watch a spectacular display of rainbows suddenly appearing in front of us and quickly vanishing. Very often they form a complete semicircle, an impressive arch filling the sky with colors. Sometimes, we can see fragments of the  circle or an accumulation of rainbow-colored fluffy clouds. Today, “our morning rainbow” was especially impressive: it looked double!

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There was the first semicircle arch outside which appeared to be a second one, but thinner and fainter. I was much surprised when I noticed that the second bow had color pattern inverted. What a treat to see! All the colors of the main rainbow were really intense, very saturated and easy to distinguish: even bright orange and violet which are usually blurred.

Dominica is a land of rainbows: I saw many in different locations on the sky or near waterfalls and lakes around the island – but nothing as spectacular as this one. This phenomenon was also witnessed by our frequent visitor here, the Smooth-billed Ani, a medium size bird with black plumage and parrot-like bill. He seemed to be totally unaware of the subject of our fascination.

Smooth-billed Ani (from cuckoo family) on a nearby bush.

Smooth-billed Ani (from cuckoo family) on a nearby bush.

This fleeting moment of beauty will stay forever in my memory. In two weeks we’ll move out of this apartment and “we’ll lose the view” However, I’m sure that rainbows will still be here without us- witnesses and admirers- as stunningly beautiful as always.

Wishing you all a happy New Year filled with colorful rainbows where ever you are,

Margaret
(Photographs by Derek)

Huge cruise ship docked overnight in Roseau looked from our patio like a giant Christmas ornament

Huge cruise ship docked overnight in Roseau looked from our patio like a giant Christmas ornament

Dominica – We Arrived!

So, we did it! We said goodbye to Victoria, BC, Canada, and left for Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean! Flying from Victoria through Vancouver and Toronto, we had three days in Barbados before getting on the final LIAT flight to Dominica.

Hunte's Gardens, Barbados - in October 2014 (photo Derek Galon)

Hunte’s Gardens, Barbados – in October 2014 (photo Derek Galon)

Air Canada prepared for us a farewell surprise – they lost our luggage. We arrived in Barbados in rather warm long-sleeve Canadian clothes, and were kept on a warm side for two extra days until our luggage materialised again. That did not stop us from visiting our favourite places in Barbados – the Welchman Hall Gully and Hunte’s Gardens. Both places look quite amazing, they matured and changed quite a bit since our last visit.

Hunte’s Gardens are now  a definite #1 attraction on Trip Advisor, and we fully agree with it.  It is an unbelievably designed, beautiful garden full of nooks and surprises.  Photographing it was actually our first job in the Caribbean as Caribbean residents. Despite the sweat  (our warm clothes) we spent several hours documenting recent changes all over the place.  These photos will be used by Virgin Atlantic for their guide to Barbados, and by Barbados Tourism Board for a local tourist map.

Hunte's Gardens - lower level (photo Derek Galon)

Hunte’s Gardens – lower level (photo Derek Galon)

 

Our welcome surprise in Dominica!

Our welcome surprise in Dominica!

Dominica greeted us with truly beautiful weather and very smooth proceedings through customs. We felt like returning home. A short ride brought us to the apartment we are renting in Eggleston – a village high in hills above capital town of  Roseau. A nice surprise – Dutch friends who live in Dominica dropped off some grocery shopping for us, along with a fine composition of local exotic flowers! Thank you!

Evening view at Caribbean Sea - from patio of our apartment in Dominica.

Evening view at Caribbean Sea – from patio of our apartment in Dominica.

So, here we are, awaiting arrival of our car ordered from Japan, taking care of formalities (permanent residency permit), and accommodating to the new life style. The last one is not so difficult, as getting around is a true delight to us.  Super friendly people, relaxed atmosphere – it all is just what we need at the moment.

View from our apartment at hills and volcanic mountains of Dominica.

View from our apartment at hills and volcanic mountains of Dominica.

Today we received news from Canada that our container started its journey from Victoria to Dominica, so we will be awaiting its arrival in about a month time.

Our container gets off -  first meters of 7,000 miles journey

Our container gets off – first meters of 7,000 miles journey

In regard to our photography work – it seems like a nice start. We are discussing with Montserrat Ministry of Tourism a week-long photo shoot in Montserrat (it would be lovely to return there – remember our volcano shots?), and we are also getting accreditation for the International Creole Fest here in Dominica. We arrived right in time for this huge yearly event. Three days and nights of concerts, with participation of the best Caribbean and international artists. We may not stay awake until 6am every night (yes, concerts end at 6am!), but I am sure there will be lots to photograph while we will be awake!

Stay tuned! And SHARE/FOLLOW if you like this!

Cheers!
Derek
(please respect copyright of my photos)

Today Is The Day (personal thoughts)

Today, after some 28 years of living in Poland and next 26 years spent in Canada – we are moving to Dominica! It will be a major challenge. Will we enjoy and handle it all? Well, we already changed our country of residence before, and we hope we will cope. We plan to put all our skills, professional experience and enthusiasm, to promote the beauty of Dominica and other Eastern Caribbean islands. But will the Dominica be good for us? So many unknown factors.

walking in Victoria, Canada...

walking in Victoria, Canada…

We went for a last stroll on Pacific shore, right here in Victoria, British Columbia – on Vancouver Island. It is a beautiful place indeed, and some people say we must be crazy to leave it for an unknown future. Perhaps we are a bit crazy, but we hope to find the new destination rewarding, with a more balanced life-style. We hope to leave behind the race for better jobs and always more money, we hope to find a bit of time for ourselves.

My last photo session in Victoria - with friends Michael Ward (on photo) and Jon Hoadley.

My last photo session in Victoria – with friends Michael Ward (on photo) and Jon Hoadley.

Yes, changing the life style is perhaps the most appealing factor behind our decision. But still, before we can hope for that, it will be a hard start. We don’t have a place to live and we will need to quickly rent something, we don’t have any gigs in the Caribbean yet. We are not kidding ourselves, it will be a hard start. But we really hope it will be worth it. So, will the Caribbean be good for us? We love this region and were always happy to return to do our photography and publishing work. But it is different to be visiting – even frequently – and living there permanently. So many unknown factors. We will be newcomers. We will need new contacts, opportunities, friends…

We know one thing for sure, whoever will hire us for world-class photography services or our internationally awarded publishing – will not regret. We know we are good at what we do. It is for others to try and discover it… so, perhaps we also need others’ good will and a bit of trust.

Ah, there is one more thing we will need – some good luck! We hope you can wish us good luck…

Thank you!
Derek

PS.
We will be posting progress of our moving and settling in Dominica here. We will stop in Barbados to see friends (Hunte’s Gardens, Welchman Hall Gully, and others), then we will fly to Dominica a few days later.
Stay tuned and Follow this blog to get all these news. And of course – please Share and Like it!

The New Beginnings

Last pieces of furniture leave our Canadian home.

Last pieces of furniture leave our Canadian home.

We already did it once before. We packed our things, and moved out of our old country – to Canada. It was some 25 years ago, we arrived with two suitcases to a totally new life saying good bye to our careers in Poland – me – an active jazz musician, jazz group manager and photographer, Margaret – a young art historian cataloging old churches all over the country.

We had to reinvent ourselves in Canada many times to keep on the surface. We landed in British Columbia and had the last few years pretty stable. And now, it happens again! Except that this time we are older, and are packing a container full of stuff we may need – computers, wide format printers, all our office and photo/studio gear, plus many other little things which may not be easily available there. Where? In Dominica, Eastern Caribbean region. Yes, we decided to move to Dominica and many people call us crazy. Time will tell if they were right.

shores of Dominica

shores of Dominica

We went some 3 months ago to Dominica to do some more photography work for a hotel and an eco-resort. And we thought – why do we have to fly so far every time we have to do a job there? In fact, we have more work in the Caribbean than in BC and Canada. So, why not to try to live there at least for a while, and see how it goes? We love the place, which made our decision even easier.

Volcanic hills of Dominica

Volcanic hills of Dominica

We sold our house in Victoria, packed up our container, and now we prepare for the Big Move, which will happen in October. We registered there our company Ozone Zone, so we can continue our work under the same name, and we are excited to start a new life. New beginnings once again! We will keep you posted on this blog with progress of things – good or not so good. So, make sure to follow this blog to get all updates. We were quite silent for last months as it was incredibly busy with selling house, moving out, deciding about details, closing business in Canada, preparing for the move, etc. I also had my last art photo session with old friends here. Now all is clear to us, and we have green light to go. Stay tuned!      We will be in touch!
Derek and Margaret

Emerald waterfalls in Dominica.

Emerald waterfalls in Dominica.

The Vibrant Scent of Roses (Hatley Gardens again)

Bridge in Japanese Garden seen through wisteria.

Bridge in Japanese Garden seen through wisteria.

May and June were unusually rainy this year in Victoria. Taking the advantage of more rains, all plants are growing fast, and are more impressive than usual. To enjoy this natural “plant festival” we went once again to the Royal Roads University Gardens (also called Hatley Gardens).

In Italian Garden

In Italian Garden

Their Rose garden is now simply spectacular. Thousands of rose flowers create not only an amazing visual display, but also a strong, beautiful scent in the air. Literally millions of other rose buds are about to open, adding their part to the symphony of colours and scents.

Countless rose flowers create vibrant scent in the air

Countless rose flowers create vibrant scent in the air

We don’t remember such a fantastic display of bloom in previous years. Rose lovers around Victoria – just go there now!
As described on Royal Roads’ web site, the gardens were established by The Honourable James Dunsmuir, born at Fort Rupert, BC on 8 July 1851, the oldest son of Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish miner who, at the time of his son’s birth, was on his way from Ayrshire to “Vancouver’s Island” to prospect for coal. The rose garden was first planted in 1913, but fell into disuse in the second half of the century. It was renovated in 1997 with a lot of hard work and modern shrub roses donated by Brentwood Bay Nurseries, and now has one of the largest private _DAG6563smcollections of David Austin roses in North America. Cared for with great knowledge and visible love, these roses bloom like no others, creating together a small miracle.

If you add to it the fantastic, dense and delicate scent of peonies, and wisterias in Japanese and Italian gardens – that makes for an unforgettable garden day._DAG7255sm

While Victoria is often called The city of the Gardens – the Royal Roads Gardens are among our most favourite. Diversity of styles, several ponds and streams, the combination of well-manicured areas with almost wild growth – they all create the most spectacular garden experience well worth a visit…

If you like these pics, click and Share them.
Thank you for stopping by, cheers!
Derek and Margaret – (authors of Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean and other books.)

Photos – copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books.

Back in Italian garden

Back in Italian garden

A goose meditates over a lily pond

A goose meditates over a lily pond

Stained glass- like colorful foliage in Japanese garden

Stained glass- like colorful foliage in Japanese garden

Roses and more roses...

Roses and more roses…

Water Wheel in Japanese Garden

Water Wheel in Japanese Garden

Visiting early in the morning has its perks...

Visiting early in the morning has its perks…

Last Few Weeks

hatley1bNot much happened with our travel plans since my last post. There are some technical issues delaying our next trip to Montserrat. Therefore we spent last few weeks visiting and photographing our favourite local gardens. Some of them we already presented on this blog – but at a different time of the year. Now, with wisterias and rhododendrons in full bloom, these gardens look just spectacular!

hatley-bridgeOne of our favourite gardens is the Hatley Park, a large chunk of land on grounds of Royal Roads university in Victoria. It is divided to several sections, such as Italian garden (with fine wisterias), Rose garden – which is just starting to bloom, and the oldest Japanese garden in the whole BC.

I hope these few photos from there are to your liking.

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Another garden we visited was the Finnerty Garden belonging to the UVIC. Well kept, with a massive number of rhododendrons, it is another place to enjoy in Victoria – and there is no fee for your visit.

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Smaller, but very well established Playfair park, has very large, matured rhododendrons. They are so huge that you can walk under them, and enjoy the colourful carpet of fallen flowers.

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It is remarkable how different in feel these places are. All of them have lots of rhodos, but each garden lives its own, unique life, offering a totally different experience.

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The unusual rainy weather we are having made all colours juicier, more dense, and all these places are lush and full of life. It is great to travel, but we should never forget to enjoy what we have at our door step.

To fill you with other things – last time, I reported about a second place at IGPOTY (UK) and the Gold Medal in Austria. Well, just after that I received another exciting news – London Salon of Photography – one of the most progressive international competitions/exhibitions awarded my Bacchus, Pan and Ceres with another Medal._DAG5206_7

I also had couple of studio art sessions and I am now editing my newest works. Ah, one of my newest is already done – with great help and assistance from Margaret – my newest auto-portrait! I hope you enjoy!

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - awarded in London.

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – awarded in London.

Thank you, I hope to see you soon, when I place our next post. Bye for now, and SHARE if you like these images.

My auto-portrait.

My auto-portrait.

Cheers!

Derek

All photos copyright Derek Galon, Ozone zone Books, please respect our copyright. Thank you!

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