Sweet little garden moments make traveling wonderful

Posted on: July 12, 2016 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

This mural set the tone for my visit to

This mural set the tone for my visit to Chemanius. Photos by Doug Oster Tribune-Review

As our bus stopped in the little town of Chemanius on Vancouver Island in British Columbia we had 45 minutes to explore this quaint city.

The bay was filled with lumber and you could smell it from a mile away standing atop a look out next to gift shops and other tourist attractions.

The buildings in town are painted with murals and the first one I saw captivated me. Dan Sawatzky’s “Company Store,’ from 1983 depicts the Victoria Lumber Company and Manufacturing Company Store circa 1917 with garden seeds for sale.

That was a good omen that this quick stop might lead to something cool.

salvia 1

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is on my list of something I have to grow next season.

salvia 2

I came across a pub planted with a huge salvia I had never seen before. It had spectacular red and white flowers and I was surprised by its size, I guessed that it must have wintered over. The garden all the way around the bar was filled with lilies, anemone plants budding up, and low growing sun loving annuals.

Walking down the hill there were the most beautiful Asian buildings behind a residential home. There were two remarkable sequoia trees which crossed at their tops near the power lines. As I photographed the door to one of the buildings a woman walked by with a ladder, gave me a smile and walked on.

door sequoia

Right across he street was the coolest nursery ever. Sandpiper Gardens and Glass looks to be on about three city lots and is jammed with annuals, perennials, vegetables, seeds and a wild variety of garden goodies.


A young woman took the only remaining greeting card off the counter so I could have something to remember this special place.


I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw pots filled with the same salvia and it was labelled too! ‘Hot Lips’ is one I will search catalogs for to plant next season. As I poked around I didn’t want to bother anyone, but had a nice conversation with the husband of the owner. I asked if ‘Hot Lips’ wintered over. He looked at me, smiled and pointed to his wife. “Ask my wife, she’ll know. I kept looking around, saw artichokes getting ready for harvest and saw a gnome I had to have as I wanted to remember this place.

When the owner came over I told her I was just passing through and needed to be back to the bus in about 15 minutes. We had a wonderful conversation about gardening, seeds, zones and more.

Ends up the nursery maintains the gardens up at the pub and ‘Hot Lips’ has been coming back for several years, becoming a small shrub in this mild climate.

I brought my gnome to the front asked if there was anything else that was weird of different that I could buy to remember Sandpiper. A young woman at the register started to peel a pretty watercolor card off the counter. “This will remind you of us,” she said as she handed it to me.

The owner slid the card in a bag next to the gnome and then showed me some strange beautiful white poppies that were in full bloom on a lot across the street.

As we parted ways I realized I didn’t even know her name, but I told her I’d be back in ten years, the next time I visit Canada.

I’ll always think of this wonderful little nursery every time I look at that yellowish green gnome. I’m looking forward to finding just the right place for it in the landscape.

It’s these little moments that make traveling so much fun, especially for a gardener.

This gnome will be one thing to remind me of a very cool nursery.

This gnome will be one thing to remind me of a very cool nursery.


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