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Neighbours make the 'hood

New residents put their own stamp on a garden, and thus on the street

One fine Saturday morning last month I answered my front door bell. A young woman introduced herself as the daughter of the couple next door. There was to be a surprise birthday party for her father in the afternoon. Apologies for


Dancing with borders. The Victoria Hardy Plant Group is presenting Dancing with Borders, this year's Elizabeth England Lecture with James Alexander-Sinclair, on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Salvation Army Citadel, 4030 Douglas St.

Alexander-Sinclair is a popular British garden designer, television personality, author and lecturer. He has designed show gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show. Tickets at $15 are available at the door or at Dig This locations in Victoria and Sidney. Hardy plant meeting. The Hardy Plant Group will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Knox Presbyterian Church, 2964 Richmond Rd. Jeff de Jong, garden site manager and head gardener at Abkhazi Gardens, will speak about his spring trip to the Netherlands and Belgium. He will show images of many gardens.

Eaglecrest meeting. The Eaglecrest Garden Club will meet on Wednesday at 7: 30 p.m. in the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Guest speaker Brian Minter of Minter Gardens in Chilliwack will present Sensational Fall Containers. Plants will be available for sale and refreshments will be served. Doors open at 6: 30 with $5 admission for non-members. More information at 250-7525315. any noise, and would I like to drop in for a drink after three o'clock.

It has been interesting to see the transformation of the garden next door. The previous owners had established a lawn and ornamental beds edged with large boulders in the front garden. There is an attractive pond, with a curved bridge, and a greenhouse between the lawn and the driveway.

It's a corner lot, and elevated sitting areas along the side fence give a view of the ocean just down the hill. There is a large patio area on that side of the house, too. When I arrived at the birthday party, friends and family filled the patio. Others sat on the lawn, where children played and a small dog romped.

Mel and Irene have developed a lovely and productive garden. Fruit trees grow along the back fence, and next to my side fence is a sizable vegetable plot. At that corner of the house, across from a broad, paved pathway alongside the house wall, a big pear tree dripped with gorgeous fruit, clustered thickly on long stems, some weighed down almost to the ground with pears.

Along the back, south-facing wall of the house, next to a bedroom door, a potted bougainvillea trained up a small trellis was in full bloom. Mel brings it indoors to a cool room for the winter after trimming it back to fit the trellis.

In the spring, I had noticed impressive amounts of building materials at the top of Mel's driveway. When I saw one day that he was busying himself with them, I wandered over to ask what he was doing.

He was remaking a big, weed-filled corner into an elevated sitting area. The main weed was a popular groundcover, periwinkle (Vinca minor), that forms a thick and formidable mat of glossy, evergreen leaves dotted with periwinkle blue flowers in spring. The mat had become impenetrable. Landscape cloth laid over the area barely daunted the persistent plants.

Mel was using an industrial-strength dolly to move concrete slabs over to the corner. The project had begun. On the day of his birthday party, I admired what he had created. The corner had become a raised, elongated triangle with an old-fashioned wood garden swing against the back fence, flower-filled urns on either side of the step up to the platform, an elegant statue in the corner, comfortable lounge chairs, and a collection of whimsical bird houses stationed along the fence.

I greatly admire people who can construct beautiful things. In gardens, it's an invaluable talent.

Amaryllis alert. Now is the time to plan for amaryllis blooms to brighten our homes in winter and during the holiday season. As well as the regular large-flowered, double-flowered, miniature and novelty amaryllis varieties, all taking eight to 10 weeks from planting to bloom, look for the new "Santa's Little Helpers" amaryllis that take just four to six weeks to flower. Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Vixen and Rudolph offer a colour range that includes white, pink, striped, candy apple red and dark, velvety red.

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