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Dorothy and Shauna go West

As the publishers of Canada’s Local Gardener magazine (previously Manitoba Gardener, Alberta Gardener and Ontario Gardener), my daughter Shauna Dobbie and I head west to explore the gardens of B.C and Alberta.

We dropped by the fabulous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, where a whole new world of trees and shrubs were revealed for our discovery. We particularly loved the Japanese garden, which is a cool, wooded area that brings peace and calm after the vibrancy of the rose garden. It was very hot this day as it was the beginning of the heat dome that hovered over the western part of Canada for more than a week.

Abkhazi Garden in Victoria was another highlight, again a shade garden with a teahouse in the middle.


One of the Vancouver gardens had a 50-foot-tall bamboo clump grown by a gardener who had discovered how to manage the runners by mounding soil around the roots and stems so that if a new shoot tried to break through, he could see it and stop in its track. An entrepreneur turned artist, he carved beautiful things from maple. 

We also visited the garden of the Mayor of Chilliwack and toured the streetscapes of Vancouver’s Grandview with Stephanie Rose, one of our national editorial board members. Stephanie teaches people to make soaps and aromatics from natural products on her website, Garden Therapy

In Alberta, we saw several amazing gardens. A highlight was a day spent with owner Gloria Beck from Parkland Garden Centre in Red Deer. She introduced us to a gardener named Sai, who grew all sorts of interesting things in her garden, but in the back yard, she had a wonderful collection of succulents, many of which she grew from seed, including, of all things, lithops, the living stones!

Our last stop on this western journey was Lethbridge here we visited a landscaper who makes fences out of stone and wire. Called gabions, I even saw this design used to make a fountain. Winnipeggers can see this on Roblin Blvd. at the new restaurant called Elena.

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