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Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

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British Columbia garden

In an English Country Garden – and in mine

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Surveying my Naramata garden

England’s Amberley Castle wildlife…

I love English country gardens and my own. Our English relatives John and Ann, indulging me in my passion, always plan a visit to extraordinary gardens when we come and spending time in their own lovely garden with its roses and pond is an enormous pleasure. I bring home inspiration, seeds, garden ornaments, pieces of flint and photos. Here are some of my favourites and how we’ve worked at Canadianizing them.

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Amberley Castle tree fort

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Naramata tree fort…called The Skyroom
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Chartwell House
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Former Calgary garden
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My house…The Handyman built this round gate
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Kent Castle falconry exhibit
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Hunting free in my garden
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Flower border I wish to copy
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Naramata garden in the morning
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English garden path
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Naramata garden path
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English roses
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Naramata rose
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Admitting defeat… this just ain’t going to happen in Naramata

Secret Garden…If I show you is it still secret?

IMG_2826A labour of love. Lots of labour…lots of love. The Handyman built me an English secret garden over the past five years. I can’t wait for spring so I’m jumping ahead a few months.

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Early mornings in the secret garden is the best time for a coffee while watching the hummingbirds.

As the Okanagan is so hot and dry in summer, the best way to re-create England was to do so in a contained area that could have heaps of compost and good soil and be efficiently irrigated. The soil is very sandy here so this step was key.

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Our driveway is steep and curves making this delivery a challenge

My ultimate garden is one where you can shove your hand into rich loamy soil up to your elbow. I’ve been working hard amending the soil every year to keep it that way.

IMG_5415Handyman can do pretty much anything with some rental equipment. The garden is located on what was a hill. We, well…he raised it even more and levelled it before installing cedar fencing around the perimeter.

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He built this round gate in the garage in the winter and installed it the first spring we were here. I’ve toyed with painting it to emphasize the roundness but am still deciding. It’s awaiting a latch of some kind as well.

IMG_4410Stuff grows like Jack’s magic beanstalk with the good soil, proper irrigation and the protection from the wind. I’ve never seen anything like it. After moving from Calgary with its challenging gardening conditions its hard to have any discipline or order. I have a tendency to plant some of everything so it’s an editing work in progress.

Here’s just a few more photos for now. I’ll revisit the garden soon when the bulbs start blooming.

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The back gate is also round. You enter and come out the other side in your superman costume. This is another one of the Handyman’s inventions and used a bicycle wheel.
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A pond is hidden behind the screen usually smothered in sweet peas. It’s a mecca for birds in the dry summer as well as racoons and a skunk family. The fence keeps the deer out.
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The main round gate from the interior of the garden. This photo was taken before the garden was mature.
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Foxglove Alba started from seed in the greenhouse. I have a collection of various foxgloves, all ordered from English seed houses.
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Brick patio. Ladies head planter came from England from the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Wish I had a few more.
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The wind chime made with silverware is from a good friend. I’m in the midst of surrounding the patio with a low boxwood hedge.

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.

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Looking in on the garden from one of its “windows”
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The kid-sized blue chair was a garage sale find

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“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?” … “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” Frances Hodgson, The Secret Garden.

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You catch a glimpse of the tree fort from the central “window”. The top cabin has a good view inside the garden. All the thyme edging was grown in my greenhouse.

IMG_2831“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.

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