Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Saltspring Island: Eggs, Rhubarb, and Trust



(Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island)

Gardening continues to make life interesting.  
I met more than a dozen people in two days not just on Saltspring Island, (located between Vancouver Island and the mainland British Columbia)  but also on the ferries to and fro. And each one of them was an incredibly fascinating human being.   (Here, I must rudely and honestly say that not everybody one meets on earth is interesting.  It's Ok, and it's true.)

I went to speak to a garden club. I imagined a paper plate with four cookies on a card-table surrounded by three gung-ho gardeners in a dark room on a Wednesday night. But the Saltspring Island Garden Club was massive.  They are  surely going to have to have an embassy and their own standing army soon.
I've never met a larger group of fiesty gals (and a few gents), and they were incredibly accomodating and hospitable.

This year is their 60th anniversary, which they will mark with a fancy garden soiree.  My kind of folks.

Mouat "park."  I wish the "park" across the street from my apartment looked like this.

And yes, it's on an island.  You take a ferry from Vancouver island.  Some 30 thousand folks live there, half of whom are generally retired from other Canadian Provinces and who snowbird somewhere warmer yet than this zone 8 place.  (like Mexico)  The other fifteen thousand folks are year-round residents.

Eat local. Buy local. Graffiti local.

 Marcia, my hostess (Ambassador, I should call her) from the Saltspring Island Garden Club had the most effortlessly artistic garden I've ever seen. That is, the plants have design in mind without fussiness.





My hostess took me to some botanical highlights of the island- one being the garden of Ted Baker, (Baker's Gardens) the local Iris guru.  

In his absence, we had a feline tourguide that showed us the entire garden.





Ted Baker's Bearded Iris Beds


 Iris 'So Van Gogh'


'Crackling Caldera' Tall Bearded Iris.



A small Botanical Pilrimmage for me was visiting Fraser's Thimble Farms.  They are a rare-plant mail-order renowned for their offering of (outdoor) ground-orchids and Hellebores.  2013 was the last printed catalogue, but their selection continues to be available online.


How many nurseries do you know who sell Cypripediums?  And dozens of species?  Yes, they ship to the US.

Their nursery had tables and tables of dizzying woodland Orchids.  Had I been closer to home and with one less border to cross, I'd have been taking out a loan to buy a truckload.





Here's one of the things which made me a little bitter at my American culture, and warmed my heart.  Like a nice rhubarb pie.
Any little item made or grown in the farmlets along the road on Saltspring had a small wooden kiosk where road-borne passers-by could self-serve: grabbing a dozen eggs, say, and leaving the money in a tin can.  Eggs & Rhubarb happen to be the seasonal crops at present.  Now, my American friends, some of you are already aware that this is totally normal in parts of of the western world, but not in the states.  We are all thinking, of cource, "Wouldn't someone steal the cash?"

How would we know when we don't trust eachother enough to even try?

There are just a few things I'm not homesick for.  A society-wide distrust complex being one.


Until then, I'll be distracting myself with flowers.



4 comments:

Jay Akerley said...

Great post - looking forward to meeting you next week in Vancouver, Kenton. Hope you met Banana Joe on Saltspring - he is a character.

Jay (www.canadiancactus.com)

Panayoti Kelaidis said...

I've always wanted to visit Fraser's: you beat me to it, you RASCAL. Sounds like you've had an enchanting visit. Vancouver Island rocks...

ineedacupoftea said...

Panayoti;
I hunted down your Mr. Erik Fleischman. I never got over how his articulations are the nearest thing possible to the actor Christoph Waltz; a fascinating dude and a fun local plant collector.

You'd be happy to know that a) I saw Zaluzyanskya ovata twice on the island, which I think I've read is a plant of your doing, and b) 'Firespinner' for sale, even on Saltspring.

ineedacupoftea said...

Joe;
Hopefully see you tomorrow!
(K)