Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.


garden photography

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” The Secret Garden

It’s been unusual. A cooler and wetter spring…a pandemic that kept us a home. Our secret garden has been the beneficiary. Here is a bit of a photo essay on the effects of perfect growing conditions and lots of attention in our Naramata, British Columbia, Canada garden on the summer solstice.

“I am sure there is Magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us.” The Secret Garden

The purples seem more purple this year…

The pinks more pink…

And we’ve had time to sit and enjoy it all unfolding.

With our pals who are allowed in from time to time…

Just outside the garden walls is our raspberry farm just days away from harvest.

The farm has never looked so tidy. One hour-long spray with round-up would have dealt with all the grass and weeds that invaded the rows but we don’t spray or use chemicals so it was a 160-hour job completed over four months. On hands and knees with a garden fork… It should be easier to maintain going forward with minor attention. It looks great but more importantly the raspberry roots now have less competition for nutrients, water and space. It’s going to be a bumper crop.

Early one morning just as the sun was rising – in the Secret Garden

No foxgloves…no love

Come with me on a tour of my secret garden this morning. Built by my Handyman husband, today, this morning in June, it is at it’s peak.

The Hobbit Gate
I have a thing for foxgloves
Lupin love
June roses
Pond visitor
Tree fort view

A bit of morning magic

Columbines after the rain


Secret garden entrance





Raspberry farm




Statue is called #4 with tree fort in the background


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In an English Country Garden – and in mine

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.

Amberley Castle tree fort


Naramata tree fort…called The Skyroom

Chartwell House

Former Calgary garden

My house…The Handyman built this round gate

Kent Castle falconry exhibit

Hunting free in my garden

Flower border I wish to copy

Naramata garden in the morning

English garden path

Naramata garden path

English roses

Naramata rose

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Admitting defeat… this just ain’t going to happen in Naramata

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead: So…more “secret” garden

I took my camera out for “a few minutes” in the early morning today for a look-around the secret garden and an hour later had to be dragged away. Here’s a Cole’s Notes look at what held me captivate because sometimes, the biggest secrets you can only tell a stranger.

Unusual red clematis, Rebecca, launched at the Chelsea Flower show in England. It reads a bit pink in this photo with the sun shining through but is very, very red. The shot below better flaunts its redness.

Just opening, Rebecca is the newest variety from Raymond Evison and is named after his eldest daughter. It can be grown in any location and holds it colour well in full sun. It can also be grown in a container.

One more clematis…I’ve forgotten the variety of this purple gem.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

“The best secrets are the most twisted.” Sara Shepard.

My aquilegia are putting on one final show. It seems strange that two birds as different as the eagle (in Latin, aquila) and the dove (columbus) should both give their name to the same flower — aquilegia or columbine. It is an easy perennial to start from seed and all of mine came from seeds from England germinated in my greenhouse. I’m still collecting.

I love the ruffles.

Aquilegias love the dappled shade in the secret garden and are perfect in its cottage garden setting.

The bees seem to like them too.

“Photography is all about secrets. The secrets we all have and will never tell.” Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

The fine spray of The Handyman’s irrigation also makes it a lovely place to be in the mornings.

Hard to believe this allium is part of the onion and garlic family.

Quick digression to my potager, that I passed by on the way to the secret garden…These chives are related to the allium as well.

…and look lovely in a salad.

“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.


“But some secrets are too delicious not to share.” Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay.

Maybe flowers are overrated.

She knows some secrets.

Frogs have taken up residence.

“That, my dear, is what makes a character interesting, their secrets.” Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden.

IMG_8821“Secrets are like plants. They can stay buried deep in the earth for a long time, but eventually they’ll send up shoots and give themselves away.” Judy Reene Singer, Still Life with Elephant.

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