Sooke Harbour: News:
Sooke Secret Garden Tour
Annual tour - First
Sunday in June
June 6, 2004 | 10 am - 5 pm | Rain or Shine
Self Guided Tour - More Information:
Sue 646-2298 or Merle 642-7248
Photo Credit: Emile & Pierre Lacroix
Sooke's garden secrets are out
Hatherly, Times Colonist
Saturday, May 29, 2004
There's a reason for the word "secret"
in the Sooke Secret Garden Tour.
"These gardens are hidden from view from the street," says event
organizer Betty Tully. "You have to go inside them to see what they've
And that is true of Lori and Bob Messer's secret garden. From the
roadside, their unassuming bi-level seems to be a thicket of wild
alders and salmonberries. But a few steps down the driveway tells a
There, rich beds of star-petal purple camas and blue forget-me-nots
flow along a curved grass pathway. Behind the low-growing perennials,
snow-white bleeding hearts brush against the delicate fronds of
maidenhair ferns. The greenery rises up to leather-leafed
rhododendrons, a wild cherry tree, an oak leaf hydrangea and
pink-flowering currants, cresting in a wild alder and salmonberry
The garden has a soft-edged ambience that makes it look as though it
rose up out of the ground effortlessly. But such is not the case. When
the Messers moved into the bi-level with their two daughters in 1987,
the yard was a tangle of Pacific scrub.
"It was all blackberry and thistles as tall as the deck," says Lori.
Years of hard garden labour brought the half-acre property to heel,
but not entirely. "We wanted to keep that wild hedge, so it looks as
though the garden melts away into the forest," says Lori.
The texture and hue of the foliage shifts subtly as the path leads to
an opening on the north side of the property.
"I think of the garden as rooms," says Lori, "and each room has its
own character." Here a large cherry tree spreads its boughs over the
centre lawn, forming a sunlight-dappled canopy. An artful woven willow
and alder bench sits under the tree.
Waves of cranesbill geraniums, columbines and bluebells swell around
lace-cap hydrangeas and bamboo. Lori uses blue blossoms as the
foundational colour for her garden, and accents it with creamy whites,
reds and pinks.
More pathways trail off into the wild growth. Moving to the west side
of the property, we come upon an alder dripping with the creamy pink
blossoms of a 40-foot tall clematis Montana vine -- one of the most
aggressive-growing members of the clematis family.
Interior renovations usually come before garden landscaping in most
homes, but not so with the Messers. Instead, it preceded and defined
the interior renovation.
Designer Jim Merrill opened a three-sided view to the gardens by
removing a centre wall and creating an open-concept living space to
give the interior an outdoor ambience. The colours of nature flow into
the living room in deep green leather sofas and timbered beige easy
The vaulted ceiling features exposed beams. Natural light floods in
through six skylights set against the centre ridge.
As the garden path moves in an undulating pattern, so too does the
wave of carpet against ceramic tile between the living room and hall.
A sturdy cedar-wood counter curves unevenly around the kitchen work
zone. A lower-tier countertop pattern has the fibrous look of handmade
In keeping with the natural theme, the counter meanders in unfitted
curves with gentle cambered detailing. A third tier was sunk lower to
conceal small appliances from the living room views.
An old broad-slatted deck was replaced with a rich fir trim and glass
pane deck to open the views to the garden.
As Lori walks through the garden, she reveals a keen knowledge of the
local deer population's dining preferences.
"There's another plant the deer like," says Lori as she points to
munched-over stems and foliage. But she's found a cure in "scarecrow
sprinklers" that come with infrared heat sensors that sense the deers'
presence and shoot a fountain of water at the unwelcome visitors.
But the sprinklers come with one drawback. Sometimes Lori forgets to
turn them off.
"They were set when the garden tour volunteers came to photograph the
garden," says Lori. "I was at work, so I don't know if anyone got
A shot of water seems harmless enough, but I find myself dodging
everytime I happen past one of these ordinary looking sprinklers, even
though Lori has assured me they're turned off. Lori laughs as I
half-leap away from one set at the south side of the house.
"I often flinch as I go through the garden, too," she laughs.
- - -
SOOKE SECRET GARDEN TOUR
- The fifth annual self-guided Sooke Secret Garden Tour takes place
next Sunday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Focusing on Sooke's coastal
community, the gardens will reflect Sooke's past, present and future.
- Check out the historic Harris House organic farm with its weathered
barn and small heritage seed company.
- See seaside gardens designed to be deer friendly, shade gardens, an
all-season garden and an ingenious water and rock garden. And no
garden tour in Sooke would be complete without a viewing of the Sooke
Harbour House gardens.
- Women in Tune have fashioned this tour, which makes for a lovely day
in the country. Tour-goers will be able to enjoy garden performances
by string trios, flutists and a choral group from the Sooke
Philharmonic Orchestra at several of the gardens. Original artwork by
Sooke artists will be on display.
- Tickets are $15 and are available in Victoria at all the Gardenworks
Centres, Marigold Nursery in Saanichton and Dig This (downtown store).
Tickets can be purchased in Sooke at the South Shore Gallery and
Shoppers Drug Mart. Proceeds support the arts in the Sooke area.
© Copyright 2004 Times Colonist (Victoria)
Sooke in the News
Archive of Tourism related News Stories about the Sooke area.
Parks, Trails &
Endless miles of unspoiled beaches and parks.
Sooke is renowned for it's hospitality - B&B style!
Cottages & Cabins
Nestled on beaches or in the Sooke Hills. Privacy and nature.
Larger groups? Staying a little longer? Enjoy all the
conveniences of home.
Hotels, Motels & Resorts
From pampered luxury to affordable accommodations.
Affordable accommodations & plenty of outdoor fun.
Services specifically catering to travel and tourism in Sooke, BC.
fishing, hiking, kayaking, birding, cycling, whale-watching ...
From a 60's diner to Haute Cuisine, you'll eat well in
Arts and crafts, marinas, real estate, shops, services and other conveniences.
Chamber of Commerce, schools, real estate, churches, arts ...
Goods & Services
Here you will find goods and services from outside Sooke
Oak Bay Village
A vibrant community only 10 minutes from downtown Victoria yet a world
away from the rush of everyday life.
Nature lover's paradise with a sparse population and many wide open
Victoria, British Columbia
A Traveler's guide to the Garden City of the Canada's west coast.
Get listed on sookeHarbour.com
given for any non-profit and community web sites
PAID Listing Package
WEB SITE DESIGN
Look good and be
found! Search Engine
and spam-free Hosting
Photo: Emile & Pierre Lacroix