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The Vancouver Island Flower and Garden Show

April 28, 2008  By Art Drysdale

The Vancouver Island Flower and Garden Show is a unique flower festival held outdoors in a municipality that is known as the Garden City of North America.

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The Vancouver Island Flower and Garden Show is a unique flower festival held outdoors in a municipality that is known as the Garden City of North America. While other flower shows are held indoors in or around March (and a very few are held outdoors in June), the Victoria Festival is held mid-summer – in late July, when the gardens are at their peak.
The festival is a multi-venue show with the main site, now Topaz Park, virtually in the centre of Victoria, but other venues are included to provide a much wider garden viewing and learning experience for visitors.


The gold-medal winner was a unique garden by Eryl and Lynn Morton of Eryl Morton Garden Designs, Victoria. Eryl’s display, entitled “Gardens Through The Ages,” was actually a series of gardens designed to illustrate the theme of our Show, History of Gardens. In a circular presentation, three gardens melded from one into another. I started at the Persian Garden complete with a pool, fountains, large palms and banana trees. Walking around the display clockwise, one next encountered the Monastery Garden, dominated by a huge Celtic cross and a Bronze nun. And since the display was covering Gardens Through The Ages, part of the Monastery Garden included a representation of the original Apple (complete with an apple tree loaded with gorgeous red fruit) and doll-like Serpent!

The final of the three gardens was the Japanese Garden with Pagoda, bubble fountain, lantern and typical bamboo fence. The three together was one of the finest theme presentations I’ve ever seen in any garden show – indoor or out. As the gold medal winner, Eryl and Lynn were presented with the David Lam (former B.C. Lieutenant Governor) Rose Bowl.

Of course, there were not just display gardens at our Show. In addition, there were the smaller pocket gardens, containers, hanging baskets, flower arrangements (both commercial and amateur), window box gardens and commercial displays.

In my eyes, there were three other particularly noteworthy gardens. Right near the front of the show. Robin Dening. owner of Brentwood Bay Nurseries Ltd.. and his staff, along with Lea Snyder, collaborated to produce “Arid Arab.” In their words: “Out of the desert rises a rare find, a lost Oasis where nature has managed to harness a remembrance of what was once lush and abundant land. A breath of Life in the ongoing arid struggle for survival carrying nomads on their ongoing trek to their destinations.”

There were many palm trees (Trachycarpus fortunei), fine specimens of at least four different lily of the Nile (Agapanthus), water lilies, hyacinth, and numerous reeds and grasses, not to mention an old camel resting his weary limbs in a makeshift shelter, a mummy in the sand, and an old Arab trader watching from his modern tent.

The second was called the Odzala Garden and was inspired by a National Geographic Special about the Odzala National Park in The Congo rainforest basin: “These clearings in the rainforest are made by elephants pulling down trees, uprooting shrubs and essentially planting desirable edibles through seeds in their excrement. They also create the ponds by digging in the mud to get at minerals and to have a place to bathe. The wondrous thing about these clearings is the wildlife they attract, from gorillas to deer and wild pigs. All of these animals benefit from the generations of labour performed by the elephants. This is a distinct ecosystem – a garden. Seasons ebb and flow and with them, the floods that renew the land – land where the massive tread of the elephants give a light touch to the glory of nature.” The garden was designed and created by Perry Mickle of the Pacific Horticulture College at Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, on the outskirts of Victoria.

Finally Valerie Marcotte created the garden “Hortus Conclusus: In the Land of the Troubadours.” It was a depiction of an informal medieval garden, complete with wattle fences, harp and the sound of water. A small enclosed garden, of which Valerie said, “a delightful place to spend time if you lived in Europe in medieval times. It was often built as a smaller walled area within the larger orchard, it was a kind of inner retreat from the outer world.”

Valerie won the People’s Choice Award and gets to have the special People’s Choice Show Garden Trophy for a year.

Congratulations to all who participated!

Art Drysdale broadcasts on gardening daily to one of the largest radio gardening audiences in Canada on Ontario’s AM740, as well as on Easy 101 covering most of south-western Ontario. He is also seen twice weekly on Shaw TV’s “The Daily” on Vancouver Island. You may write to him at, or check his website at:

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