Friends of Government House Gardens Society

Victoria, British Columbia

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.



Akiko’s Gift

The following is a summary of an article written by Valerie Murray, Head Gardener of the Friends of Government House, which will appear in full in the upcoming edition of the Cary Bulletin.

In the summer of 2012 The Friends of Government House Gardens lost a long time volunteer with the death of Akiko Kamitakara. Akiko was a kind, generous and very humble individual who gave tirelessly to her community without attracting any attention to herself.

When Akiko died she left a bequest to the Friends of Government House and last fall we began to plan how we would direct some of these funds. The project that we had in mind was to give some shape and structure to the Woodland’s Lookout that we hope to use as a demonstration garden to encourage people to grow more native plants in their own gardens. Hardscape is usually one of the most expensive parts of any garden plan so it was felt that this was a good way Akiko’s gift could benefit our gardens.  We began looking for a set of stones anchored by a large upright piece to symbolize a small, strong Japanese woman.

The generosity and spirit of Akiko pervaded the entire project. The perfect stones were found by Larry Myers, a garden designer who was working on a construction project in the area with Ron Egli of Ron Egli Construction, who donated the stones and the use of a flatbed truck and crane to move and position them.

It all came together on July 31st with efforts of the Woodlands volunteers, Larry, and Ron. Below is a compressed view of the work that took place over a couple of hours.


“A Well-managed Lea”

Dr. Nancy Turner speaking to the Friends in the Maclure Room at Government House.

On the afternoon of March 3rd, Dr. Nancy Turner, a world renowned enthobiologist, delivered the first of this spring’s lectures to the Friends. Entitled “A Well-managed Lea”: First Peoples, Plants and the History of Victoria, Dr. Turner started the story with James Douglas’ mistaken observation upon his arrival to the island in 1841 that it was a “natural” landscape with plenty of potential for development. In fact, what he observed was a very sophisticated environment managed sustainably by the Lekwungen and other Straits Salish peoples to provide a variety of foods, medicines and building materials from more than 150 plants.

Dr. Turner and Her Honour, Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia who attended the lecture.

The lecture proceeded to detail just a few of the critical plants and complex processes used to cultivate and use them. Dr. Turner concluded by telling the well attended event that the Government House gardens remains a refugia for many of the culturally important species that are now quite rare, but played a critical role in the life of the First Nations of Vancouver Island.

This and the future lectures in the Friends Talks 2014 series was made possible by an energetic team of Friends volunteers consisting of Angela Newton, Susan Bartol-Drinker and Lynn Heenan assisted by Eileen Edgar’s phone team and Catherine Spencer distributing e-mails to the membership. Many thanks to Penny Tennenhouse and Jerymy Brownridge for the photographs and to Valerie Murray for her initial contact to Dr. Turner.

Dr. Turner being thanked with a small gift from the Friends by Valerie Murray, Horticultural Advisor to the Friends.
Dr. Turner being thanked with a small gift by Valerie Murray, Horticultural Advisor to the Friends.

A Few Changes


A new edition of the Cary Bulletin has been published today in advance of the start of the new gardening season. You’ll notice a few changes. First, the format reflects the design talents of the new editor Mary Anne Skill. As most of the Friends are now receiving the Bulletin electronically the new edition contains more colour, more pictures and should read very well on your computer or tablet screens. For those of you who prefer the print edition, fear not, it has been sent to our printer and will be mailed to you, as usual, very shortly.

Another change is that, from this edition forward, we are putting the electronic version of the Cary Bulletin in the public section of the website. A few changes were made for privacy protection to allow this. This will make the Bulletin easier to download and easier to pass along the link to friends and colleagues across Canada and around the world. Feel free to share it liberally.

You can find the Bulletin on a new page below the “The Friends” menu item or just click here.

Enjoy – and spread the word.


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


Perennial Sale Successful

Sales were brisk at the July Perennial Sale by the Nursery Group
of The Friends of Government House Gardens.

Perennial Sale
Joan and Brian Taylor, leaders of the Nursery group.
Perennial Sale
Many colourful perennials and happy customers

July Perennial Sale 2013

July 2013

For Perennials that are a bit different…

July Perennial Sale

Museum: Elegant New Additions

Photo of Evening SuitHere, at the Costume Museum, we’re pleased to share two wonderful outfits just recently donated to the House by The Honourable Iona Campagnolo, 27th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Visitors to the museum may now view a dashing uniform designed and worn by Her Honour to military receptions and gala military events, as well as her elegant violet and purple evening suit, created by First Nations designer Debra Sparrow.
Be sure to stop by the Museum soon to see these and many more costumes from the rich and varied history of Government House of British Columbia.Photo of red uniform

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