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.

Posts tagged ‘plants’

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.

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Thanks!

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

Sweet Pea Garden – Small Is Beauty

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Once in a while we stumble upon a garden so nice and cozy, we would love to spend long summer hours in it, eating gelato, drinking some bubbly (preferably with some friends), and feeling perfectly content and happy. Julie and Terry
Flatt’s back garden is one of these, and it’s a part of this year open garden tours for Victoria Horticultural Society, here on Vancouver Island, in BC, Canada.

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This small space is perfectly suited for leisure with different settings of sitting areas: under a pergola, on a porch, on a sunny carpet- size lawn or on a single bench. From these vintage points, you can enjoy looking at the plants, many with surprisingly large leaves as for a small garden. _DAG8869sm

“The fact that you have a small garden doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to fill it only with small plants, ” says Julie. She is a professional gardener with vast knowledge of plants, and it is evident here.

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The indisputable king of the garden is a big Canadian maple tree transplanted by Julie almost 20 years ago. It gives the partial shade to the garden (it shades tender plants) together with unbelievably white barked Himalayan birches.

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This teeny-tiny garden appears much bigger than it actually is, not only because of its clever design but also of unusual, quirky artwork which surprises you and makes you stop to investigate closer.
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It has a fun-filled touch to it. Julie often uses garage sales found treasures or some thrown-away objects in a new, creative way: round rattan woven chair frame makes a spider’s web decoration; wooden bed frame is decorative arch. Small mirrors reflect the greenery and trick the eye. These fun details make Julie’s garden fantastical and whimsical, happy, relaxed and light-hearted, a perfect place for a tasty summer gelato.
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Thank you for stopping by, and as always – if you like this garden and our post – please SHARE with friends.

Until next time. Cheers!
Derek

In appreciation of her hospitality, we gave Julie one of our books - Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, by Margaret Gajek and with my images.

In appreciation of her hospitality, we gave Julie one of our books – Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, by Margaret Gajek and with my images.

 

Next post coming soon, perhaps about an art photo shoot I recently had.

Photos by Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books.
Story by Margaret Gajek, Ozone Zone Books.

As we are in a fun mood after visiting this garden, I thought – you’ve seen me on a few photos on this blog, but some of you may wish to see a pic of Margaret. Here it is, I titled it “The Joy Rider” Hope you enjoy!

Margaret Gajek

Margaret Gajek – recent image. Photo by Derek Galon

Visiting Chosin Pottery Gardens – Once Again

It is hard to believe that it’s already a year since we visited this place for the first time! When enjoying this garden in August 2011, we decided to return here in autumn, to see and photograph this beautiful place in its full glory of of fall colours. So a couple of weeks ago we did just that.

Chosin Pottery Studio Gardens welcomed us with rain, fog, and unmistakeably late autumn mood. We remembered it lush and green, therefore this was the Garden’s new face for us. Quiet, misty, full of colourful autumn leaves, it was inviting to take nostalgic photographs, and I obeyed.

You can see our post from the previous visit HERE, therefore I won’t be writing again about the Studio and its owners. Let’s make this post more about photographs, passing seasons and returning cycles of nature.

Some images – quite intentionally – show the same spots photographed on the previous occasion, in summer 2011. We love it when a garden gives joy, offering its ever-changing beauty all year long. And the Chosin Pottery Garden does just that…
Thanks for stopping by, until next time!
Cheers!
– Derek

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Commentary: Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

P.S.
I just noticed a nice comment  one of readers of our coffee table book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean wrote on Amazon’s site in UK (this book is available on all Amazon sites).
Such a nice comment, it really is the best compansation for long and hard work of our team – let me share it with you:

“Exotic Gardens is more than just another coffee-table book; it is an experience.  From small gardens to grand gardens this tour through selected islands of the Eastern Caribbean is an absolute delight.
The photography is nothing short of stunning, to which the insightful commentary is the consummate foil.”

Wow, thanks for this amazing comment!
Derek

Photographing the Isle of Skye, Scotland (part 3)

If you missed our previous part of Skye experience, read it here.

First morning frost around the Storr.

The weather remained amazingly beautiful during our stay, perfect to hike another high point of Skye, the Quirang. You need to give yourself several hours for this walk. Firstly, weather can turn bad here quickly, and you may have a bit of hard time finding your way in the upper part of this sometimes challenging hike.

Dwarf trees on a sunny day.

Secondly, if weather is good – you will want, like us, to make frequent stops and enjoy panoramic views, bizarre rock formations of the Prison (to the  top of which you can get by taking one of the side paths), the Table with its surreal, flat top, and the Needle, which can offer a bit of a challenge to less experienced hikers. No, you don’t climb the Needle, this fascinating pinnacle is made up of terribly loose rocks. But you can get up next to it and enjoy more fantastic views.)

Quirang – “The Prison”


Another scenic trip worth taking is Elgol. It takes a long drive, mostly using single-lane, narrow roads. Views from the road are spectacular, and you will also see one of many Scottish wind farms – huge wind power generator stations, blending with landscape. Elgol opens to the Cuillins, highest mountain ridge on Skye. It is a destination for experienced climbers, but on a clear day you can have a look at the Cuillins from the shore in Elgol, or – if you have a bit extra time – you can take a boat tour getting deep inside the loch, to enjoy these mountains from a closer distance.

View from Quirang.

Elgol. Clouds over Cuillins.


Unfortunately, when we arrived to Elgol, Skye had it’s  “Eilean a’ Cheo” (Misty Isle) face on, and most mountains were covered by a thick fog. Still, it was beautiful, and the road there is very scenic…

Being already on the west side makes it easier to drive to perhaps the most unusual place on Skye – a remote, lone “coral beach”. It is worth the ride down the narrow road leading through moors and glens. After a short hike from the road’s end, you find yourself walking along the shore, full of dark, rough basalt rocks.

“Coral Beach”.

Nothing prepares you for that amazing view – just behind the next hill you will step down to something more proper for a Caribbean paradise – a small bay full of beautiful coral sand! You can see beautiful, light-blue water, sea shells and other beachcombers’ treasures. Enchanting, almost surreal, and amazingly out of place. A couple hundred yards of Caribbean paradise, nested among huge black volcanic rocks amidst a stark northern environment. It’s hard to believe you don’t see real coral.

It is all made up of pieces of dried, calcified and sun-bleached algae, known as maerl. On your way back look out to see the famous Dunvegan castle, the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland.

Jellyfish on Coral Beach.

While driving along the shore, you will also see some small lighthouses here and there, which reminded us of another interesting story: In 1963, two of Skye’s area lighthouse cottages, built by the Stevensons – in Ornsay and Kyleakin on the island of Eilean Ban – were sold to Gavin Maxwell, an author and naturalist. Maxwell’s enormously successful book “Ring of bright water,” tells the story of his friendship with an otter, set on the island. The otter, captured in Iraq, was a gift from Wilfred Thesiger, one of the greatest explorers and travel writers. They travelled together to the marshlands of southern Iraq, a trip that was later captured in their books.  Eilean Ban is now a wildlife sanctuary and a Maxwell’s museum.

Dunvegan Castle

As we decided to take a return bus back to Glasgow, this tiny island of Eilean Ban was the last place we saw on Skye from our window before reaching the mainland.
It is hard to believe we had spent only a few days here. It felt like several weeks, packed with constant joy of exploring and photographing breath-taking, beautiful places.
Thank you for stopping by!

View from main road on our way to the bridge.


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Commentary: Margaret Gajek and Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

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.”

P.S.

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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