Saturday, May 29, 2010

Greetings fellow garden lovers! 

I'm writing to let you know that this year's East Van Garden Tour is on Father's Day, Sunday, June 20th. All the gardens on the tour this year are quite close together and you should be able to walk the entire route. There are 12 gardens on the tour.

You can get your tickets ahead of time at Britannia Centre (1661 Napier Street, 604-718-5800) or at Figaro's Garden (1896 Victoria Drive, 604-253-1696). You can also get tickets on the day of the tour at Figaro's (cash only on the day of the tour, however).

As usual, tickets are $10 per person.

The self-guided tour runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

On the day of the tour, go to Figaro's to pick up your map showing the locations and descriptions of the gardens on the tour.

Note that most gardens are not wheelchair- or stroller-accessible. Children must be either babes in arms or 12 years or older (or, if younger, amazingly well behaved future botanists). Pets are not allowed. Photos are only allowed with the garden owner's permission.

We will need garden sitters! If you have time to do a three-hour shift (10:00-1:00 or 1:00-4:00) as a garden sitter in one of our beautiful gardens this year, you can take the rest of the tour for free! Please let Pat Davitt know if you're available (604-253-1885).

If you know of any splendid East Vancouver gardens you would like to nominate for future tours, also contact Pat (604-253-1885).

Proceeds of the East Van Garden Tour go to support the work of Britannia Neighbours, which these days includes the maintenance of the Napier Square Greenway, support for the summer Napier Greenway art fair Artful Sundays (this year Sundays, noon-5:00, Aug 8-Sept 5), sponsorship of a field trip to Van Dusen for a science class at Britannia Elementary, contribution to the upcoming new Britannia Community Centre sign in the Greenway, partnership with Drive Organics to make compost for the Greenway. We thank the Green Streets program of the City of Vancouver Engineering department for its ongoing support.

Let me know if you have any questions.

See you on the tour!


Penny Street

Monday, May 24, 2010

A message from Pat!

I've included all the ideas that have come up in the past few weeks (or at least all the ones I remember!), and I'm sure there will be others emerging as people get their minds around thinking plants, thinking design. Penny, could you send this out to the gardening group? To all of you: feel free to edit it, or add to it...whatever. It's a first draft.
Cheers, Pat

A re-examination of Napier Square Greenway: the beginnings of a five-year plan (with ideas from Karen Thirkell, Pat Davitt, Penny Street, Ann Daskal, Janet Harper — May 19th, 2010)

[Suggested To-Do List/Time Frame at End]

Karen's first take: that it could be livened up with the addition of more purple-leaved plants in addition to the Ravenswings we already have; memo to Pat: remember to plant the purple Ninebark somewhere nice!!! And more variegated plants: sedges, euonymus and such like.

We agreed: Take out the three self-seeded elms, including the big one on the Sweet Cherubim side; ask the City to remove it and replace it with a more interesting and smaller tree — one with flowers in spring, interesting bark, and/or interesting colour in fall….plus, we would have more light in that area. (Gord Kristjansen — Pat's upstairs neighbour and a landscaper) says he'll take out the two smaller ones, in June — his contribution.) News flash (Sunday, May 23): there may be another one, that looks more like a shrub, on the Drive O side by the alley. We'll try to get an identity check on that one!

Move the climbing rose to one of the screens on the Sweet C side (probably the one overlooking the parking lot); take down the dead clematis and replace with a goodly-sized new one. Make better use of all those screens for vines and climbers; prune the evergreen Clematis armandii on the Drive Organics side (get it out of the tree and get more light on that side).

Previously, we'd thought to install a berm (a mound of soil) on the Drive O side in the middle bed, which is situated on a layer of hardpan. With a deeper layer of soil on top, we will be able to do more creative planting in that area. This could be the major re-do for this year, since we don't want to bite off more than we can chew, eh?

Then maybe next year: on the south/Sweet C side, leave a path at the back along the wall (about three feet wide) for access to the back of the bed. Build up another berm with a curved front; line irregularly with stones to anchor the front edge, sword ferns along the curve on top and bright green hostas (we already have them) below the ferns, on the lower level. (Would give that bed some shape.)

Prune the existing lonicera (Honeysuckle) on the Sweet C alley-side; Pat to contact Aidan re: more interesting honeysuckles (flowering, with scent — there was a spectacular one on the garden tour two years ago).

Out of Pat's garden: Astrantia major alba and rosa (Masterwort); more epimediums (Barrenwort) if needed; hostas. Also some bluebell bulbs. Out of Karen's garden: Baby Tears (good, pretty and invasive ground cover to go around the poster/poles).

From the City: pieces of concrete to install as paths and surrounds as access for poster/poles (x four), which then can be surrounded by the Baby Tears. We might be able to get this done sooner (this year) rather than later; we'll ask for help from the City; otherwise there's always LawnBoy, with its tons of free concrete pieces.

When we get to adding/buying more plants, think hellebores, and lots of spring bulbs, particularly daffodils and the little species tulips, both of which naturalize; we have to remember this in the fall when the bulbs become available (September). If we can get the Drive O side built up with a berm, it will be more straightforward to add bulbs and other decorations.

To-Do List/Suggested Time Line

1. Prepare for and install the berm on the Drive O side. With that in place, we can do the planting without having to worry about digging them all up when the soil comes. This will give us space to plant bulbs (permanently) in the fall, and to design proper plantings of small shrubs and perennial plants in that space. What fun!

2. Removing Elms: Gord figures he and his crew can do that in June, when they get less busy with landscaping-for-pay.

3. Move the climbing rose; clean off the dead clematis from the Sweet C-side screen; prune the C. armandii heavily (can be done now; it's finished blooming)

4. Prune the honeysuckle into shape; find out better varieties from Aidan (Pat)

5. Bluebell bulbs could be planted in the raised bed along Drive O, and in the front beds on both sides… Whaddya think?

6. Approach Erin about getting concrete pieces from the City and having them delivered; or going to Lawnboy and getting them there; install around poster/poles; can be done this summer.

7. Buy annual flowers in vast multitudes to cheer up the place. No point in buying new purple perennials now, until we have beds installed and a plan for what we want and especially where we're going to put them

8. Enough already!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Needed: temporary good homes for some very lovely plants!

Howdy Britannia Neighbours,
If you can help Ruth out, please let her know --  (604) 879-4194 or 
And while I have your attention, Work Party in the Greenway Sunday 3-4:30! Come if you can.
Cheers, everyone!

Begin forwarded message:

From: ruth <>
Date: May 15, 2010 1:12:13 PM PDT
To: Penny Street <>
Subject: Needed: temporary good homes for some very lovely plants

To Brit Neighbours in Action Friends:
My co-op is undertaking a year-long leaky building renovation, and I have to move all my plants (and furniture) off my ground floor balcony. I'm looking for plant babysitters for my treasured plants (in pots), including:
-ivies, minature maples, honeysuckle, minature bamboo, hostas, azaleas, small herbs, lavender, spiderworts - plus some things I've forgotten the names of. They are primarily semi-shade plants.
If you have a corner or two in your garden where you might fit a pot or three I'd be most grateful... I have to clear off my balcony by May 24th.   Thanks, Ruth  (604) 879-4194

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Work Party, Sunday May 16th, 3:00-4:30!

Hey, there's a Work Party -- a work PARTY! -- this Sunday, May 16th, 3:00-4:30!
We're trying to have one every Sunday these days because there are tons of weeds and we have some grandiose plans to make the Greenway absolutely spectacular rather than just green. We need your help and ideas and enthusiasm!
It's fun!
Come if you can. No need to RSVP.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Hiya everyone

I went, even though it started to pour down rain, because I thought that others might be trudging over to the greenway and would find no one there with tools or good cheer. By the time I got there, the rain had mostly stopped; no one was there from the group, but I thought it would be a good time to do some "creative staring" (as Dagmar Hungerford used to say) to figure out some changes we could make to the greenway. Then I found the plants that Janet Harper had left for us the week before, cleverly hidden in the bushes where Takako and I had failed to find them. Oh good, thought I, I will have to plant them (in the drizzle) before I leave. Then I found Janet! Yay! She had come to garden and so we did garden a bit; we planted all the plants from the week before and then did some more creative staring and got at least a couple of good ideas about where some of the yards of dirt (for making berms) could go. More discussion needs to happen and will ensue, probably on Sunday, which is promising to be a finer day than last Sunday...seeya all there? Cheers, Pat

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stone Soup, Saturday May 8th at Britannia, noon-5:00


I'm writing to remind you that this Saturday is the 15th annual Stone Soup Festival at Britannia Centre. This year's festivities include a food film festival, a mini farmers' market, community food and garden information, a seedball-making workshop, live music, plants for sale, and lots of other activities. 
For more info see

Stone Soup is a great way of getting together with the folks in your community to celebrate the genuine arrival of spring.

The Fijian Shiv Mandir at 1795 Napier (on the corner of Salsbury), in the block just east of Britannia, is serving delicious vegetarian food ($5.00 for a very generous plate) as part of Stone Soup, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This year they are also having a religious/cultural activity between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., which will be held outside if the weather is agreeable (otherwise, it will be inside).