Victoria Flower Show 2002

This trip was a nice break for us both…we rented a convertible, hoping that it wouldn’t rain while there and were not disappointed…the weather was beautiful.  Upon arriving at the airport we got our car then headed off to visit Rick and Jean Sorenson, not ten minutes from the airport.  After a wonder couple of hours with them including a tour around the garden by Rick – you can see Rick pondering a new clematis and Rick and Tom sitting on the grass chatting, we headed off to Tom’s sisters place to get ready for the press gathering at the show that afternoon.

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The first picture you see is of the show from a distance.  This is a small lake just in front of the castle and where we are is on a road that is actually a short cut from Victoria to where we are staying…Tom grew up in this area so is very knowledgeable about it.

This year’s garden and flower show was held at the beautiful Royal Roads University on the grounds of Hatley Castle .

James Dunsmuir commissioned Samuel Maclure, a Victorian architect, to design the "Castle", and Messrs. Brett and Hall, landscape artists of Boston, Massachusetts, to plan the gardens and surroundings. Local stone, trimmed by Valdez and Saturna Island sandstone was used in the building's construction. Its impressive exterior is matched only by the lavishness of the interior appointments; oak and rosewood panelled rooms, baronial fireplace, teak floors, and specially made lighting fixtures. James is quoted as saying: "Money doesn't matter, just build what I want."

The building is 200 feet long and 86 feet wide; the turret is 82 feet high. The wall surrounding the estate, also built of local stone, cost over $75,000; the Conservatory, costing a like amount, was at one time filled with white orchids imported from India; a large banana tree grew in the centre under the dome. The rooms of the house were filled with flowers from the Conservatory throughout the year. Ten kilometres of road interlaced the estate, and a hundred men were employed in the gardens. There were a number of other buildings on the estate to provide for the needs of the large household, but many of these have now been demolished: the vast refrigeration plant; the cow stables; the slaughter house and smoke house; the three silos, each of 100 ton capacity; the reserve water tank to the south of Belmont Drive; the old stable near the bridge to the east of the present fields; to say nothing of the Chinatown to accommodate 80 to 120 gardeners. There remain, however, the model dairy and the stables, which were of solid brick and concrete construction. The "Castle" was completed in 1908, and the Dunsmuir family took up residence in that year.’

More history here

When Tom and I visited a couple of years ago, we wandered off to the old glasshouses.  There is one old one standing and inside this building we some very nice people who let us walk around and see what was there.  There were fig trees there and you will never taste something so good as a fresh fig.  There was also a grape vine here.  I asked about this grape vine and was told an incredible story.  This vine was a baby when sent here over 100 years ago – and was a slip off the great grape vine at Hampton Court Palace .  Who would have thought – I got to taste these sweet grapes too!

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The next pictures are that of the show and of course the Castle is included in some of them.   The grounds are very beautiful, just look at the Italian garden which is right off the balcony of the Castle.  That’s Art Drysdale and I walking around the Italian garden.

You will also see a grouping of three big leaves…can you believe that this is man made?  It’s actually a waterfall of sorts and was just beautiful!

‘Without exception, this event is open to landscape architects and designers and to any individuals, garden clubs, nurseries, societies, florists, garden centers, municipalities and businesses, who wish to join in celebrating the beauty of our unique garden city. Five categories will be available for your choice of submissions and will include Show gardens (demonstration gardens); Hanging Baskets; Floral Arrangements (cut or dried category); Cut Flowers; and Container Gardens .

Each category will be judged by both a jury of your peers as well as a people's choice award. Each method will carry its own trophies and prizes. It is possible to win first prize by both methods, however keep in mind that juried peers will be much more discriminating than the people's choice.’

As noted from the Flower Show site, this is a great way to showcase the beauty of Victoria .

There are also lots of pictures to see on their site…

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The last few pictures include Tom parked on that road I was talking about earlier, facing towards the Castle and two are of the home we stayed in…what a view and what a great time we have when we go home to Victoria…

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