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 ‘public parks’

Hiking around Freshwater Lake

We had a nice hike last week – around the Freshwater Lake in the Morne Trois Pitons Natonal Park. It used to be our favorite place when we were coming to Dominica as visitors, only for a short time. Now, because we live here, we have an opportunity to take our time and hike the entire loop around the lake and enjoy stunning vistas.

Freshwater Lake, Dominica

Freshwater Lake, Dominica. Sun behind fast moving clouds creates spectacle of lights.

When we left the capital town of Roseau, car thermometer showed 31 C; upon arrival to parking lot, temperature dropped to 20C. We are on elevation of over 700m above sea level, high in the mountains, at the heart of the island. There’s always wind blowing clouds of mist soothing the skin after scorching heat of the city. We breathe deeply fresh air and take a first look at the lake. It’s situated in a valley surrounded by sharp peaks covered by montane rainforest, dense patchwork of every shade of green color. The natural beauty of the place is astounding; it is also very calm and serene. As we start to hike, thoughts and noises in our heads gradually quiet down, and we fell under charm of this magical place.

The trail is made entirely of steps held together by wooden logs and tree fern trunks. We’re lucky it isn’t raining; it can be really slippery. Apart from the wind, there is only glass flute-like sound of mountain whistler (rufous- throated solitaire) singing long notes, beautiful and soothing. We climb steeply uphill taking a closer look at the unique vegetation found only on higher elevations. Shrubs and trees form a dense, low growing thicket dripping with moisture from the swirling clouds. There seems to be more ferns, bromeliads and epiphytic plants than anywhere else. Some plants are striking like Lobelia stricta with spiny leaves or epiphytic vine with red and yellow flowers (Alloplectus cristatus)

Finally, we are at the top of the ridge, and views are amazing! We can see Freshwater Lake shrouded in mist and all volcanic peaks of the interior. Standing there, you can see both sides of the island (how small this island really is!): to the west there is Caribbean sea, to the east, distant views of Rosalie Bay on the Atlantic side. The path descents and climbs up again yet to another peak with slightly different vistas, equally stunning. _DSC5429_30_31

After the walk we feel thoroughly refreshed and amazingly light-hearted. We have to return there soon.

Actually, we may return indeed, as while hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of this place, our old idea of creating a coffee table book about Dominica rippened in our minds, and we just decided it is time to do it. Therefore in upcoming months we will be travelling the island scouting for most picturesque locations, photographing, interviewing people, and collecting all material for this fine task. It may take up to a year to produce it, but we hope it will be as nice as our Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean – or even better, as our publishing experience over last years accumulates, helping us do what we love better and better._DSC5438

We will keep you posted on progress of our works, therefore please subscribe to this blog, and share it with friends.
Cheers!
Margaret and Derek

All photos by Derek Galon, writing by Margaret Gajek. Please respect copyright.

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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…

Photographing the Isle of Skye, Scotland (part 2)

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

Sunrise and first frost on Skye. View from Dunyre Cottage. (see previous post)

Cut trees in Storr area

The Old Man of Storr is a magical place. The hike starts at the highway, but sadly its first 30 minutes lead you via an extensive forest clear-cut. Whatever the reason behind this massive operation, it looks sad and ugly, bringing to our minds the terrible, indiscriminate clear-cuts here on Vancouver Island, in Canada. Skye is voted one of the10 most beautiful islands in the world – and such operations should not be allowed – at least in such extensive form. Yet, driving around Skye, you will not fail to notice old stumps of cleared forest, extensive wastelands clashing with the natural beauty of this island.

The Storr formation

Once you are higher, the view becomes wide, beautiful, and you can enjoy the beauty of Skye once again. Sheep graze in the most remote and steep parts of the high hills, and the rocky Storr formation stands magnificently right above your head. At the top plateau, where the path ends – once again you feel you are in photographers’ paradise. The pinnacle called the Old Man stands magnificent right in front of you, a panoramic view of Skye and surrounding islands opens wide, the air is crisp and fresh. You are on top of things.

Our next stop is famous Lighthouse on the west coast of Skye.  The west coast presents the most hostile environment on the island. Battered by strong winds, spectacular high cliffs reach right up to the headlands. On one of them stands Neist Point lighthouse, impressive in this truly dramatic setting. It was built in 1909 by David and Charles Stevenson, who belonged to the long and distinguished dynasty that constructed almost one hundred major lighthouses in Scotland.

Old Man of Storr

It looks across the water to South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides and its lighthouse in Ushenish, built by Thomas Stevenson, the founder of the pioneering dynasty of Scottish engineers. He was greatly disappointed when his son Robert Louis Stevenson did not want to follow the family’s tradition choosing to pursue a literary career instead. A steep path leads to the lighthouse, but not many people know that in mid-way, already on the lower level – if you are not afraid of heights – you can step out of the known path, go to the right, traverse a meadow neatly trimmed by sheep, and enjoy a totally different view at the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse

Be careful though – you can see it only when you are just a few meters from the sharp, unprotected cliff. On a windy, rainy day, it can be really hazardous. We were lucky to have perfect weather, allowing me to set up my tripod and take some nice photographs. Thank you for stopping by.

Please stay tuned for more from Skye – coming soon!

On the way to Lighthouse


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Previous parts:  Train trip     Part 1

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

Playfair Park – “Ghost Garden of Greater Victoria”

Playfair Park, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - feast of rhodos.Not too many people know about this garden, perhaps only locals and admirers of rhododendrons go there. It is not even listed on Victoria Horticultural Society’ website list of Local Public Gardens (one would think that such a list should be the most complete and impartial) – and yet this forgotten, colourful and interesting spot is a real jewel hidden in a quiet residential area of Saanich.

This small garden had really grand and unusual beginnings. It was planned long ago as part of a national arboretum in Canada – an ambitious project envisioned by Adam Szczawinski, Polish-born botanist who saved Thetis Lake from development. Szczawinski was a curator of botany at the Royal BC Museum, creator of an extensive BC plant collection housed at the museum’s herbarium, and at the University of Victoria. In 1956 he brought together a group of about ten people to form The Arboretum Society of the Pacific Norhwest. There was an official plan to set up a series of small areas in Victoria to display specific plants. Playfair Park was chosen as a first site for display of rhododendrons. However, after general election in Canada, it was decided by the new government that the best place for a national arboretum has to be Ottawa. Despite this disappointing news, a group of enthusiastic volunteers decided to complete work on the park.

The other end of Playfair park is full of mixed, attractive plants blooming all summer long.

What remains there today is still a glorious and beautiful display. The Camphor tree is one of the most spectacular in the garden, recognizable also by amazingly aromatic leaves. All the rhodos were planted under Garry Oak trees for protection from sun and wind. Today, some of the rhodos are up to majestic 8 meters tall, creating an impressive and colourful display. We walked under their arching branches looking at the magical carpet under our feet, made by their spent bloom.

What was once a dream about the arboretum it is now a splendid garden, as much worth a visit as other famous gardens of Victoria which do charge an entry fee. Beautiful, free to visit – but not on lists of Victoria fine gardens and sadly forgotten – a ghost garden, full of real beauty.


Thank you for reading, and as always – if you like it, please share – let others know about this beautiful garden.


Once more our blog brought us to our home town – Victoria, Canada. We are working on more posts from here, as well as a few posts from abroad. Stay tuned!
Until next time, cheers!
Derek and Margaret.

Playfair park can be accessed both from Quadra Rd. and Blenkinsop, with free parking near Union St.

More info about Adam Szczawinski
http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/ben362.html

Post written by Margaret Gajek, author of our books Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, and Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean, photos by me – Derek Galon.

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