Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's a Secret

A couple of years ago, one of the friendly locals near Boundary Bay encouraged us to visit the "Secret Garden". I asked for directions, and he waved towards the beach; "Down there, turn right; it's up near the end. You can't miss it."

We did. We have driven and walked up and down that area, and never saw it. It's a Secret.

Last Saturday, we parked near a walkway to the beach that we have used often. As we collected our gear, a family biked towards us. The woman called ahead to her kids, "Do you want to go into the Secret Garden?" I took the opportunity to ask where it was. She pointed inland. "Just down there at the end of the block. You'll see it."

Not really. At the end of the block, a dirt trail led down a weedy right of way and curved out of sight. No sign of a garden. We followed the trail around the corner, and -- now, finally, we couldn't miss it.

A tall wooden fence, draped with vines and flowers, hid the garden behind.

Akebia vine

Inside the gate, a root monster welcomed us to his green lair.

The Secret Garden is the creation of Brian Whitehouse, a retired roofer, whose house backs on to this right of way. Eight years ago, he and his wife started gardening on the gravelly, weedy site. Gradually they have transformed it into a quiet haven.

Unrolling ferns.

The garden fills a long, narrow strip (about 10 - 12 metres wide) shaded by the high walls of the adjoining homes. The south side is therefore in almost constant shade; here grow an assortment of ferns, hostas, rhododendrons, bleeding hearts and other shade-lovers.

Baby fern

Bleeding heart

Trilliums and hosta leaves

What is this? It's beautiful.

The northern wall is in full sun and the plants are chosen accordingly.

Ginkgo tree, sprouting new spring leaves.


Spiky plant. Another I don't recognize.


The plantings are enlivened with a variety of containers and found items:

Echeveria in a hanging basket

A piling with a hole serves as a shaded planter

Old lumber, a rusted motor, a metal pipe pouring out green leaves

London Pride around a rock pile.

At the far end, where the ground is (as yet) unworked, planks set on stumps hold pots of seedlings and potting tools. Leftovers and broken shards, to be used later, lie against the wall.

Broken clay images in a pot of shards.

On the way out, we pass a lawn mower. I wonder if it gets oiled and used in the summertime.

Just inside the gate, as we go out, I stopped to examine this green mound. It is a plant so tiny, so dense, that the individual leaves can't be made out and fingers don't penetrate the surface, a plant as improbable as the gardener who tends it.



  1. What a wonderful secret to discover. Such a beautiful, well tended spot.

  2. Vasha8:31 am

    Very nice! I especially like the use of rocks.

    That plant you asked what it is, is some sort of Corydalis -- in fact, I looked that genus up on Wikipedia and found that the article is headed by a photo of C. ochroleuca which seems to match it exactly.

  3. What a lovely spot. Nice that the gardener makes it available to everyone, too.

    I second the vote for C. ochroleuca. I just did a Google for white Corydalis, but it turned up a few good photos, such as this one. Interestingly, it was a flower I only just learned about myself a couple of weeks ago.


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