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 ‘rhododendrons’

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!

Bequia, a Feast of Colour – Ozone Zone’s New Book

Port Elizabeth harbor front, 1979, “coffee stain” painting, collection Lou Keane, BequiaWhen he first came to Bequia, Peter didn’t have any paints. He used pens and ink. He made paint from instant coffee mixed with water. He’d make a little painting, sell it, and when that money was gone, he’d paint another picture. This one shows the SIMONE V, a Guyanese wooden sloop trading between Barbados and Bequia. The Bequia Chandlery, now the Bequia Bookshop, is at the center of the sketch and the old Barclay’s Bank building, now Solana’s, is at the right. Empty steel drums lined up on the beach were filled with water and used as ballast. The little ground floor shop sold plumbing fittings.Nolly Simmons

Port Elizabeth harbor front, 1979, “coffee stain” painting, collection Lou Keane, Bequia
When he first came to Bequia, Peter didn’t have any paints. He used pens and ink. He made paint from instant coffee mixed with water. He’d make a little painting, sell it, and when that money was gone, he’d paint another picture. This one shows the SIMONE V, a Guyanese wooden sloop trading between Barbados and Bequia. The Bequia Chandlery, now the Bequia Bookshop, is at the center of the sketch and the old Barclay’s Bank building, now Solana’s, is at the right. Empty steel drums lined up on the beach were filled with water and used as ballast. The little ground floor shop sold plumbing fittings.
Nolly Simmons

We are excited to share with you some fresh good news:  We are just finishing a new book, which will be published by Ozone Zone. It’s again a Caribbean-related title, full of paintings by Peter Carr, an artist from Australia, who was fascinated by the beauty of Bequia, a small island belonging to St Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s actually much more than a book of paintings. A friend of Peter Carr’s, Julie Savage Lea, herself a fine painter living on Bequia, has put together some fascinating memories and comments by selected Bequia residents, and used them as descriptive reference for Peter’s paintings. The result is a colourful book telling the story of Bequia, its local traditions, important historical moments, treasures, local customs, and much more. You can get quickly drawn into reading this vivid story – it’s like visiting Bequia with a great guide, and having fine watercolours illustrate the story at every step you make.

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, 1999, watercolor, collection of Cedric Bourdereau, FranceUsed by pirates and the French and British Royal Navies in turns, the early settlement, a thriving port with limited fresh water, was initially called “Harbour Town.” In the ensuing years, nineteenth century whaling ships, mostly from New England, gave way to locally-built trading sloops and schooners. In 1937, “The Harbour” was declared “Port Elizabeth” by King George VI, in honor of his oldest daughter. By the 1950’s, charter yachts and motor vessels began to appear in the bay. Traditional fishing and boat building declined. Since the ‘70’s, bare boats and catamarans have become ubiquitous. Rental villas, construction projects, and tourism are now the economic forces in Bequia.Bob Berlinghof

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, 1999, watercolor, collection of Cedric Bourdereau, France
Used by pirates and the French and British Royal Navies in turns, the early settlement, a thriving port with limited fresh water, was initially called “Harbour Town.” In the ensuing years, nineteenth century whaling ships, mostly from New England, gave way to locally-built trading sloops and schooners. In 1937, “The Harbour” was declared “Port Elizabeth” by King George VI, in honor of his oldest daughter. By the 1950’s, charter yachts and motor vessels began to appear in the bay. Traditional fishing and boat building declined. Since the ‘70’s, bare boats and catamarans have become ubiquitous. Rental villas, construction projects, and tourism are now the economic forces in Bequia.
Bob Berlinghof

For us this new book is a natural continuation of our on-going Caribbean theme. Things tend to unfold harmoniously when you are working in the Caribbean.
We met Julie when working on our first Caribbean book ,“Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”.  We had appointments scheduled nearby on the famous island of Mustique, and we heard about Julie’s studio by chance in our hotel. A quick decision, and a couple of hours later we were on a ferry to Bequia, to visit her in her studio – the charming Mango Cottage. In fact, I believe Julie Lea deserves a separate blog post. Yes, why not? In our next post we will profile Julie and her works – we will invite you to her Mango Cottage. It’s quite a unique place, we’ve dedicated a whole chapter to it in our Tropical Homes book.

Bow of WATER PEARL, built on Belmont beach, Admiralty Bay, 1980, watercolor. An earlier schooner with the same name, owned by J.F. and Reginald Mitchell, was finished near this site, in 1932In the late 70’s, Californian Chris Bowman and I were co-contractors for a 68-ft. traditional wooden schooner, WATER PEARL, built for Bob Dylan near the present Dive Bequia, just off The Belmont Walkway. We hired some of the best shipwrights in Bequia—Albert Crosby, Lincoln Ollivierre, Lanceford Hazell, Herbert Ollivierre, Gilbert Hazell. She was handmade with pride. Her ribs were Bequia white cedar curved to the right shape by the N.E. Trades. Her planking was Guyanese hardwood. Her bulwarks were dark as ebony and finished with gleaming brass fittings. It took three years to build her. We launched her on December 9, 1980, with an all day celebration.Five years later, WATER PEARL ran aground and sank off the coast of Panama. All of Bequia wept. “All...that...HARD...work!” said “Linky” Ollivierre. Nolly Simmons

Bow of WATER PEARL, built on Belmont beach, Admiralty Bay, 1980, watercolor. An earlier schooner with the same name, owned by J.F. and Reginald Mitchell, was finished near this site, in 1932
In the late 70’s, Californian Chris Bowman and I were co-contractors for a 68-ft. traditional wooden schooner, WATER PEARL, built for Bob Dylan near the present Dive Bequia, just off The Belmont Walkway. We hired some of the best shipwrights in Bequia—Albert Crosby, Lincoln Ollivierre, Lanceford Hazell, Herbert Ollivierre, Gilbert Hazell. She was handmade with pride. Her ribs were Bequia white cedar curved to the right shape by the N.E. Trades. Her planking was Guyanese hardwood. Her bulwarks were dark as ebony and finished with gleaming brass fittings. It took three years to build her. We launched her on December 9, 1980, with an all day celebration.
Five years later, WATER PEARL ran aground and sank off the coast of Panama. All of Bequia wept. “All…that…HARD…work!” said “Linky” Ollivierre. Nolly Simmons

Am I drifting away from the main theme – Bequia, a Feast of Color? Yes, perhaps – but as I just said, things about the Caribbean tend to unfold naturally, leading one to another. We are really excited about this new, upcoming book. Attention to detail and close collaboration between all the people involved in the production, made it a truly rewarding experience. I took all the  time to make sure all the paintings look in the book as close to the original as possible, and now it’s ready to go to print. It will be printed by our long-time partners, who stand behind the quality awards received by our Tropical Homes and Exotic Gardens books. Unfortunately, the printing, cargo shipping, and distribution all take time – and therefore this book will not be ready for Christmas. A pity, for coffee table books make really classy and elegant gifts. But there is always the next time, so let’s wait for this newcomer. It will be worth it.

cover-homes-600px-sRGBIf you like coffee table books as much as we do, and if you came upon our blog rather recently and are not familiar with our early posts – then perhaps I should introduce our previous Caribbean-themed books – which enjoy world-wide distribution, numerous international awards and 5-star reviews. Both these titles were multiple times on Amazon’s top-seller lists, and their various enthusiastic endorsements were our best reward for years of passion put into their creation.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

The first one was Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean. San Francisco Book Reviews in 2010 called it “A book so thick and decadent you can almost feel the tropical warmth penetrating from the heady images.”
Another magazine wrote: “A delirious architectural tour of the most exotic and fanciful homes in the Caribbean, this exquisitely photographed collection of eye-popping residences is bursting with playfully challenging design. While the work featured might not be applicable to every home, getting lost in the images is a vacation in itself.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

The sense of liberation and unbridled exuberance is nothing short of thrilling. This gets my vote for best book to curl up with in January when you want a respite from the Wisconsin winter. “ – (Robert Bundy, Milwaukee Home & fine living July 2010)
Readers seem to have a similar opinion, to quote one of Amazon’s: “This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful book; a feast for the eyes! It takes the reader into private worlds of exquisite gardens and houses, created by the most tasteful, sophisticated and (one assumes) wealthy inhabitants of this favoured part of the world.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

Derek Galon’s photography is masterful – full of juicy colours, whimsey and entrancing details. Margaret Gajek’s text is both knowledgeable (she has a background in architectural history) and very readable. Highly recommended. Guaranteed to take you away from a dull, North American winter!”  (- Susan Scott). While spending an enormous amount of time and effort on producing this title, we never expected the reception to go to such degrees of enthusiasm, so these comments are really our greatest reward. You can browse this book, read more about it, and perhaps choose it as your perfect gift, on Amazon’s sites.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

Here are direct book links to three main ones,  where it is available at a big discount now:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Our next Caribbean title was born shortly after Tropical Homes. Exotic Gardens of The Eastern Caribbean followed the success path of our previous title, and even exceeded it with the prestigious Nautilus Book Award 2011. Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean - our next bookIt also received fantastic reviews and endorsements. Halifax Herald wrote: “If you’ve ever visited one of these islands, this is a wonderful keepsake; if you’ve never been, it’s a temptation to go.”

Another comment comes from a known British media celebrity – Stuart Hall from BBC, ITV ( It’s A Knockout, Look North): “It is a masterpiece, an amazing work of sheer artistry, imagination, and indeed of romance.”
Other artists shared this view: “It looks like a labour of love, and you have every right to be proud of it. And it’s amazing that this is bilingual too. Just on the first flipping through, we are already overwhelmed by the images and thoughts. Congratulations!” – Robert Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Comments of other readers were similarly upbeat: “This book is well written and has stunning photography, superbly arranged and produced. For those of us who have enjoyed travelling to the Eastern Caribbean, these are the pictures we tried to take but couldn’t. This is the kind of book we want on the coffee table, to leaf through and admire.” “This book is absolutely gorgeous! We have it on our coffee table, and are so inspired by all the beautiful photographs. This book would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in gardening, or anyone who loves to daydream about living in the tropics!” (Amazon’s reader).

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Exotic Gardens shows a wide selection of unique Caribbean gardens, and the final chapter demonstrates ideas for flower arrangements using tropical flowers, with step-by-step instructions for three unique flower arrangements, done by fine flower designers from Grenada, with their original comments. The book also includes an audio CD with one hour of Caribbean nature sounds, to offer an enhanced reading and browsing experience.  Yes, experience may be the word – and it was used in the most recent reader’s comment on Amazon UK site: “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. For garden-lovers visiting the islands, this sumptuous volume is the perfect introduction to some of the rare and exotic plants that might be seen.”

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

This is perhaps the most fantastic review of our book ever, and it makes us truly happy. You can browse Exotic Gardens, read more about it, and perhaps choose it as your perfect gift, on Amazon’s sites.
Here are direct book links to three main ones, where it is available at a big discount now:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Working on several projects at the same time, we missed seeing the newly added readers’ comments on Amazon and other bookstore sites. We discovered them only recently – and so we wanted to share all that with you. After all, this is the blog of a book publisher specializing in Caribbean coffee table books. We often share with you stories about our other trips, shoots and experiences – but Caribbean books are always an important theme that’s very close to us.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Announcing our new title made me also step back in time and introduce our previous titles to those of you who found this blog more recently. If you go back to our earliest posts, you will find stories from our first Caribbean trips, sharing the adventure of producing our first title.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

I hope you enjoyed this bit of retrospective, which is always very close to our hearts. In the next blog – more about Bequia artist, Julie Savage Lea.

Cheers! Until next time!
Derek

Photos of paintings copyright Peter Carr, Ozone Zone Books.
Other photos: Derek Galon – please respect our 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!

 

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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