Vancouver Island – Courtenay, Qualicum Beach

Moving on to Vancouver Island

 

 

 

 

After our delightful trip on the Sunshine Coast we travelled over to Vancouver Island on the Powell River ferry.  Luckily I remembered at the last minute that there is another ferry at Earl’s cove you have to take before reaching Powell River.  Again…I am glad I made a reservation.

Our next airbnb was located just north of Courtenay in Merville. (www.airbnb.ca/rooms/446153?location=Merville%2C%20BC&s=wLfQlpWc)  This was more in a country setting and our hosts Hilary and Steve made us welcome too.  Each day there were offerings from their garden including garlic scallions and raspberries.   It was such a quiet peaceful retreat.  

This trip we tended to do more beach time and found a lovely spot 5 minutes from the airbnb – Williams Beach.  It was great having a picnic lunch there taking in the sunshine and ocean breezes.  With new picnic basket in hand and a bottle of wine we were all set.  Little did we know on our second day there we would have a helicopter land right in front of us and a bride and groom step out.  When we first arrived, we noticed what looked like bridesmaids on the beach but I did not pay much attention.  So how surprised were we when literally we were entertained by the arrival of the helicopter and the bride and groom connecting with their bridal party.    Sadly I only had my 50 mm lens so I could not zoom in.  At the same time, I did not want to encroach on this special celebration as they had their own photographer.  

 

 

Unexpected Wedding Party on the Beach

 

Just shortly after this, we were surprised to see a horse galloping our way.  This rider from Alberta brings her horse down twice a week to the beach.  

We couldn’t have planned this any better.  Enough excitement for one night.  

Location for WTN show Chesapeake Shores (old Chamber of Commerce Building)

The last stop on this summer vacation was in Qualicum Beach – a place that I have always been fond of.  Many years ago we promoted Qualicum Beach to old neighbours of ours.  They ended up moving there while we ended up in the Okanagan.  I am always taken in by how well the shop owners do up their window boxes.   

 

We were able to spend a couple of nights with our friends catching up with news of family and friends.  A perfect end to our vacation.  

Great job with your containers Susanne!

 

Sunshine Coast

 

 An unexpected trip to the Sunshine Coast and Beyond.

My husband and I decided to do a last minute trip to the Sunshine Coast and then onto Vancouver Island (separate post).  We normally do not travel in the height of the Summer, however we were able to book some airbnb’s at the last minute.  We also made sure to reserve the ferry from Horseshoe Bay.  We tried to simplify the trip by taking Murphy B.  My husband had picked up an old suitcase to fit on the back of the MGB a while ago .  This in the end worked out perfectly for packing our clothes giving us extra space.   

It has been some time since we last visited this coastline and I realized how much I missed being by the ocean.  We enjoyed exploring Halfmoon Bay, Roberts Creek, Sechelt and Gibsons.  Each area has its own unique features.  I found a great little garden shop in Roberts Creek, “The Rusty Hinge”.  The owner originally ran a florist in Vancouver.  She certainly had an eye for picking up unusual containers for her plantings;  plus local people in the community had donated old garden tools which added to the ambience of the store.   We also visited quaint stores in Sechelt.  One called Redecor (www.facebook.com/redecorsechelt) with repurposed products.  We ended up getting a lovely used picnic basket which served us well on the next stage of our trip.  

 

 

We lucked out too with our airbnb “Passiflora”. (www.airbnb.ca/rooms/11041247).  A lovely suite with ocean views from the back deck.  It was situated just north of Sechelt.  A good location not far from amenities.  Our hosts Luba and Maurice made us most welcome.  I zoned in of course on the shrubs, roses and flowers in the front and back of the property including a palm tree.  

Passiflora Airbnb

 

Views from airbnb Passiflora

 

We only had two nights stay here but having booked another airbnb near Courtenay on Vancouver Island we sadly had to move on.  Next post – Vancouver Island – Courtenay, Qualicum

Highlights of June

Highlights of the June Garden.  As we come to the end of June I always like to look back at my photos to see how the garden has progressed.  This is a time when we start to reap the benefits of all the hard work that has been put in during the preceding months.  Towards the beginning of the month we were threatened by high waters in Shorts Creek located a short distance away from our home.  Thankfully this has subsided but now residents along the waterfront have struggled for a long time now with high lake water.  During my walk though this morning through Fintry Provincial Park I was pleased to see that there has been some subsidence and there is a glimpse of the beach again.  

One of the first perennials to bloom in June is the oriental poppy.  I have slowly been spreading these throughout the garden so that there are splashes of pink/peach papery flowers.  Some of the flower heads are quite large.  

 

Next on the list to bloom are the purple alliums along with my first crimson peony.  

Crimson Peony   
Bee Happily Feeding on Allium Bloom

 

Meanwhile the rockery garden is ablaze with colour.  Creeping veronica, campanula, dianthus and yellow sedum have definitely taken hold and cascade over the large retaining rocks.  

 

Creeping Blue Veronica
Purple Campanula & Yellow Sedum

 

 

 

Crimson Dianthus

As we progress through June the first of my roses to bloom is the double apricot one.    This variety has a subtle fragrance so I love to bring the cut flowers into the house.   Sadly due to the harsh winter I lost a number of other roses.  In particular my arbour rose was severly affected.  I have underplanted with two new climbing roses (Climbing Blaze and High Flyer) which I am happy with and hope that at least next year it will fill in all the gaps where the dead wood was pruned.  

 

High Flyer

Climbing Blaze 

I have also planted a floribunda rose called “intrigue” which I am waiting to see bloom and I am very happy with the hybrid tea rose that I bought called “Baden-Baden”.  

Hybrid Tea Rose – Baden-Baden

 

 

With continuous fertilizing with miracle gro and watering the hanging baskets are filling in really well and I am very happy with the results.  

 Now I can look forward to the next wave of flowers including the annuals I grew from seed.  We will also be starting to pick produce from the vegetable garden.  I already have harvested a good amount of romaine lettuce.  

Wishing all my followers a very Happy 150th Canada Day

(I was hoping that my red and white zinnias would be in bloom.  They are still only in bud.  Instead a photo of a container of white geraniums and red petunias taken on my recent Kelowna garden tour will have to suffice).  

 

Sugar Lake

Sugar Lake is a hidden gem. We were unable to camp at our usual forestry recreation site, Skimikin Lake, due to flooding in the area.  Although some work has been done to reclaim the campsites, we knew that the mosquitoes would be unbearable.  On the recommendation of my daughter and family, we thought we would give this recreation camping area a try.  It was certainly well worth it and we will most definitely visit again.

We ventured out to Cherryville and apart from the last section of Sugar Lake road, the area was easily accessible.  There were large pot holes due to recent rainfalls.  With a large 5th wheel, we just took it gently.  The lake has been created by a dam linked with hydro and is very well stocked with fish.  The campsites are all managed by Elaine and Jules Durette and I have to say they do a wonderful job.  There are about 50 sites in all according to the hosts.

Dog Beach

We were fortunate to get a spot right by the lake with steps down to a beach . It was lovely early morning sitting on a log sipping coffee and looking at the views.  It’s a great lake for kayaking but you do have to be careful as the wind can whip up pretty quickly.   They also allow power boats but I think it is more geared for small fishing boats and kayaks.  

As ever, I took a wander around the area and discovered many different wildflowers.  I also startled a deer during one of my walks.   The camp host mentioned that only days before a moose had come into the campsite.  I am not so sure if I would be happy encountering the moose but it would have been interesting to see from a distance.

Orange Dandelion
Native dogwood
Wild Honeysuckle
Wild Lupine
Wild Tiger Lily

 

There was no cell service in this area but I thought this was a good thing.  My husband and I were able to sit down and actually read a book which we rarely do these days.  It was good to have a break from social media apps.  There is a convenience store about 15 to 20 mins away which comes in very handy.  Beautiful scenery surrounding the road in with verdant green hills and meadows.  I couldn’t help take a photo of a rustic cabin surrounded by wildflowers, mainly the orange dandelion.

There is some history to this area.  Apparently back in the early 1900’s there was a lodge and resort which catered to the more wealthy folk of Vernon who would come out and vacation here.  

Another camping spot added to our list.  

 

 

Flower Power Garden Tour

Flower Power – Kelowna & West Kelowna Garden Tour 

After being in the Okanagan area for almost 10 years now I finally attended the Kelowna & West Kelowna Garden Tour (Flower Power – www.flowerpowerylw.ca)  This was such a great event exploring a number of private gardens, a lavender farm and vineyard.  There was such a cross-section of formal to informal garden layouts and designs as well as interesting art, garden decor and wine tasting.  At each stop there was so much to take in and someone readily on hand to help name some of the more unusual plants and descriptions of how the garden evolved.

We first started off in the West Kelowna area.  As this tour is well attended I was happy to be escorted by my husband in his red MGB so that we could easily find a small spot to park in.  There were many garden enthusiasts, mainly women.  My husband had no problem fitting in though and felt quite at ease sipping wine with the ladies.   This garden was stocked with so many varieties of plants and shrubs.  The list would be never-ending so I only took photos of those plants that stood out to me.  This included roses, clematis, a pathway of thyme and various perennials.  

Campanula
Dianthus
Pathway of Woolly Thyme
Purple Salvia

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I was particularly taken with the water feature using a concrete leaf for the water to flow on.  

  Water Feature Using Concrete Leaves

 

 

We then moved on to several gardens in lower and upper Mission.  Each with their own unique style.  I was impressed with the use of retaining walls and bold designs.  

 

There were plenty of contrasting plants that complemented one another.  The use of subtle pinks, mauve and greys with a splash of yellow from the yarrow.  

Love the contrast of the mauve salvia with grey foliage in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was interesting to see the history behind the Lavender Farm (www.lavenderfarm.com).  Fascinating to see rows and rows of lavender as far as the eye could see.  

Water Feature Ancient Estate Hill Winery

We sampled a number of wines along the way including Sperling & Sandhill as well as a honey sparkling wine from Meadow Vista.   We also visited Ancient Estate Hill winery way up in the hillside behind the airport. Again there were a number of artisans on site so while perusing the art you could sample the wines.

Tomatoes Lining Pathway
Raised Vegetable Beds

 

 

 

Standing out for me the most though was the last garden stop on the tour at Bonnie & Chef Bernard Casavant’s home not far from the Ancient Estate Hill vineyard.  I was very intrigued with the program that Chef Bernard is involved in.  Chefs in the Classroom – Edible Education.  (www.chefsintheclassroom.ca).  Their mission is to educate children in the community on how to grow, cook and eat Okanagan fruits and vegetables.  Bonnie is very much involved in the garden too and the produce is provided to some of the more speciality restaurants in Kelowna.  It was definitely vegetable gardening big scale.  I was delighted to walk along a path that was totally lined with tomato plants.  High raised beds filled with many varieties of lettuce, peppers, basil…the list goes on.  In one particular raised bed Bonnie explained the tomatoes are placed in the middle; on the sunny side she grows the basil and on the shade side the cucumbers.  Such a great idea.   There were unique containers throughout this property and some delightful double red poppies and crimson peony. 

All in all this was such a great experience and I will most definitely attend this event again.  

Just a few more accents that I could not help taking photos of including a fairy garden, an antique welcome seat and a cat sitting happily by a succulent container.  

Eerie Silence on the Lake

There is an eerie silence on the lake this morning.  Usually this is the beginning of boating season but as the water rises boaters are discouraged to go on the lake.  Owners of waterfront homes are frantically sandbagging – a fight against nature.   My husband has been helping out as best he can with filling sandbags.

Trail Surrounded by High Grasses

As I walk along the Avenue I am serenaded by many different birds which seems accentuated due to the silence.  There is very little beach area now along the waterfront but we are at least able to still use the trails. On my walk today I captured some wild roses, iris and salsify in bloom.  The grasses continue to grow and are waist-high now.  I have never seen such lush growth at this time of the year.  

Dappled sunlight on blue iris
Iris amongst the Tall Grasses
Salsify

 

 

 

 

 

Shorts Creek has subsided substantially and it is interesting to see that sandbanks have been formed and small pools of water.  The downside to this though is an increase in the mosquito population.

 

 

 

 

 

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the lake water will start to drop soon.  It will not be until the foreseeable future that we will be able to get out on the lake apart from the fact that our boat launch is completely under water.  

 

End of May Review

Phlox Subulata
Hardy Blue Geranium

As we reach the end of May the garden is overflowing with green shrubs and plants interspersed with bursts of colour.  The last of the tulips are still blooming; the double pink variety.   The hardy blue geranium has just started to flower along with the oriential poppies and red peony.   There are always lulls between early spring to late spring blooming.  Buds are just waiting to burst open in every corner of the garden.  My seedlings are doing relatively well but I think the wet and cool days of May set them back a bit.   The snails and slugs have not helped either.

As the first rockery plants subside, the next in bloom are the creeping phlox.  I particularly like phlox subulata.  In this particular photo the phlox is poking through the blue veronica speedwell. 

 

 

 

Next to bloom will be the low growing campanula and another variety of veronica with its bright blue flowers.  The yellow alyssum still continues to carpet a large part of the rockery garden with masses of yellow flowers.  

 

 

 

I have also enjoyed discovering the first of the wildflowers this month.  Indian paintbrush and wild strawberries as well as lupines, penstemon and wild geranium.

 

We have finally planted out the tomato, basil, red pepper and cucumber seedlings.  Sadly though the cucumbers have suffered, again due to cooler temps.  We may need to actually buy some new stock.  

The roses still are struggling, particularly my arbour climbing rose which has survived all these years.  I have underplanted with a new climbing rose with the hope that as we cut out the dead wood, it will gradually fill in the blank spots.  My crimson rose has leaved out more.  Apparently though if the new growth is beneath the graft it will just come up as a wild rose.  Time will tell.  

New leaves on Crimson Rose