Friends of Government House Gardens Society

Victoria, British Columbia


Garden Features

Himalayan Blue Poppy

An image of a Himalayan Blue Poppy at Government House
photo by John Barton

A View of the Duck Pond

image of fountain in the duck pond
photo by John Barton

New Woodland Trails

The Woodland trails are a favourite for visitors – dog walkers and joggers alike – but when the winter rains arrive many sections of those trails become waterlogged and unusable.

This Fall, Colin McCrea and his team, Jason Choquette and Patrick Trottier created a water diversion to bypass the worst of the ‘swamp’ on the most westerly point of the trail where every winter the water runs freely over the rocks. A new permanent pathway was created ten feet east of this diversion on slightly higher ground and cedar chips were brought in to build up the path. The cedar chips will not decompose at the same rate as the wood chips that we had used in the past that were usually sourced from our own oak and fir on the property.

Now we can all enjoy a dry walk in the Woodlands all year round and special plants that grew along the paths are no longer at risk.


Transitions #2 – The Viburnum Hedge

The massive viburnum hedge to the east of the Victorian Rose Garden has been a topic of conversation at the Garden Management Committee for some time. It was overgrown, diseased and rife with blackberry canes and other undesirables. Originally a shelter for the rose garden, it now blocked the view and the sunshine from the east.

The Viburnum Hedge - little did it know.
The Viburnum Hedge – little did it know.

This spring both the will and the funds were present and Bartlett Tree Experts were hired to cut it down and remove the extensive root system.

Ah, that's better!
Ah, that’s better!

The area has been seeded with grass to provide better viewing access to both the Victorian Rose and Winter Gardens.

Transitions #1 – By the Duck Pond

The early spring this year gave us the opportunity to perform some major renovations in the gardens at the very beginning of the gardening season. Change is always interesting so the Friends website will try to capture the before, the during and the after in a series of blog posts called Transitions.

On the southern edge of the Duck Pond between Rockland 1 and Pearkes Peak there were a couple of beds overgrown with hypericum, cottoneaster and a kolkwitzia. Besides being out of control and impinging on the path, they blocked the western view of the pond and the bamboo grove. A local family wished to donate a crab apple tree and this became the impetus to renovate the area.

Duck Pond 1
Before the renovations

The roots were mighty, but the team of Pearkes Peak gardeners were mightier and here is the result.

Duck Pond 2
Ah, that’s better!


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New Residents in the Gardens

A couple of diminutive new residents were discovered this month in a Portuguese laurel in Pearkes Peak by the sharp eyes of Sharon Vermaning, Supervisor of that garden. The hummingbird nest measures about one and a half inches around (these condos are getting smaller all the time) and is populated by two tiny chicks whose long beaks can be seen poking out in the picture below.

And here is close-up shot from a slightly better angle (thanks to Sharon for holding the branch aside). Click on the pictures to see them in full size.



The Queenie and Orm Benson Garden

Visiting members of the family in the Queenie and Orm Benson Garden. From left to right: David Donaldson, Diane Donaldson, Greg Benson, Rosemary Donaldson, Roberta Benson, Miriam Kaufman, Brian Donaldson and Sheila Benson.
Visiting members of the family in the Queenie and Orm Benson Garden. From left to right: David Donaldson, Diane Donaldson, Greg Benson, Rosemary Donaldson, Roberta Benson, Miriam Kaufman, Brian Donaldson and Sheila Benson.

To honour Orm and Queenie, who was a dedicated member of the Pool Garden team, their family made a bequest to the Friends that was used to revitalize a section of Pearkes Peak, a shaded section beside the main path leading from the House to the Bruce Pavilion. The family members, pictured above, were given a tour and detailed explanation of the improvements made to the garden with the bequest by the Friends Head Gardener, Valerie Murray.

Commenting afterwards, Roberta Benson wrote, “I loved the garden and it felt just right as a living memorial of our love for Queenie and Orm for us and others to enjoy.”

Queenie and Orm Benson
Queenie and Orm Benson


Rockland Border Pond

The large pond in the Rockland Border garden features two stone fountains and attracts nesting ducks in the the spring and summer months:  the view looking east towards a conical  Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and looking west past two male Mallard ducks.


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