Garden Photo of the Day

Seasonal Highlights from Ladysmith

By Kim Charles

April from my favourite lunch spot by the pond. Because this is a sheltered spot I can eat lunch outside on nice days for much of the year. The primulas in the foreground are the supermarket  ones that appear each spring and cost less than a cup of coffee. I plant them out and most come back year after year. With a little deadheading and water in the summer they repeat bloom into the fall. Best plant deal ever!  In the middle of the pond is a marsh marigold (I think) which puts on a great show late March and into April. I put the plant on an plastic box, the kind that holds milk jugs. This give the fish (orange spots in pond) a place to hide from the great blue herons. I stick to goldfish due to having to share some with the herons. However the fish seem to be doing OK, most make it through the winter and every spring we spot some babies.

Pam Fraser gives us a glimpse of her slice of paradise on Vancouver Island.

"Every morning I enjoy the garden pictures you post from all the wonderful gardeners in many parts of the world. A great way to start the day. I thought maybe it was time to share some pictures from my “piece of paradise”, shots from my small back garden. They are a bit different from most posts in that they are all of one garden feature, my pond, taken at different times of year (also in different years, which explains the rapid growth and shrinking of some plants).
I have always admired garden ponds but was put off installing one due to the effort involved. So when we retired to Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, I was delighted to find a house with a pond already in place, plus mature, professionally installed landscaping. Maintaining my narrow back garden is relatively easy due to the mature, low maintenance plants. My main job is hacking things back as plants grow very rapidly in our moist, mild climate. I also get to enjoy the “borrowed scenery” of the slope behind our property."

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Some of my “pets” out and about. While most are orange note the black one on the left. Some are multi-coloured and a couple are almost pure white. They provide lots of interest in the pond.  I only feed them occasionally in the summer, mostly for my own amusement, otherwise they seem to do well on what nature provides.

Later in April, the Spirea (white plant) puts on a great, albeit brief, display.                                

Into May and the hostas are reaching their prime. Oddly enough, my garden is not troubled by slugs, at least not yet.                              

June by the pond. The irises come from Ted Baker’s fabulous iris garden/farm on Salt Spring Island.                              

Close-up of iris in last shot,  Siberian iris 'Shaker’s Prayer'. 

August, Landini Asiatic lillies, they grows about 3 feet high and have multiplied nicely.

November view from our bedroom over the pond. In one of those unplanned but pleasant surprises, the fall foliage on the Japanese maple echos the new side fence. The bright red shrub is a barberry. The small green tree beside it is a Portuguese laurel which I added. It keeps its green foliage all year. I am striving for more winter interest plants to increase my year round garden enjoyment.

January. Although we live in the “banana belt” of Canada, we do get some winter freezes and some snow, although it usually last only a few days, then its back to the winter rain.Don’t know what the plant in the left foreground is, but it keeps its pink/red foliage all year.                              

Giant Cynthia rhodo, over 100 years old.  This is NOT in my garden but is the horticultural “star” of Ladysmith. When in full bloom it can be seen from across the harbour. It's even become something of a tourist attraction. Should you be up our way, it's in bloom in late May.   

View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 05/11/2017

    Hello there Pam - I really enjoyed your narrative, photos, descriptions and unique approach to a GPOD post. Your pics. of the pond (and its inhabitants) and surrounding garden over the seasons and years are fantastic. Your innovative and interesting approach to the post worked a treat. Must be wonderful waking up and looking out from your bedroom window to see your ever changing 'piece of paradise' - and let's not forget having a nice lunch in such a lovely and relaxing environment. The old rhodo. of Ladysmith is definitely a ripper. I look forward to seeing future posts from you on GPOD. Cheers from Aussie land

  2. Vespasian 05/11/2017

    Wow, you have such a great display of colour all year round. I really like how every angle gives you a different and lovely view, I think I would be out there all day, enjoying the wonderful mix of shrubs and plants. I envy you your long growing season, here in Collingwood on the shores of Georgian Bay it's much shorter but intense, right now the bulbs are at their peak and the trees turning green. Thanks for sharing the spectacular rhodo, I don't think I've seen one that big or beautiful before.

  3. mjensen 05/11/2017


  4. user-3565112 05/11/2017

    Your piece of paradise is terrific. I believe all of the plants are perfect for the spot & i can imagine the joy this brings you & your family. Our ponds are about the same size & I had a problem with herons & fish hawks. I deter them in winter with string. They still come around,set by the pond ,but will not go in the water. I am going to attempt to attach a photo of this arrangement.
    Good luck, Joe

    1. frankgreenhalgh 05/11/2017

      Nice work Joe. Good to hear from you. Cheers, Frank

      1. user-3565112 05/12/2017

        Thank you Frank. The thought occurred to me that you,Tim,Kevin,Jay , N.C & a few others must be the only other males on the planet interested in gardening My daughters last fall convinced me to join a garden club to get out more often. I did & was the only male amongst 20 ladies. At the state meeting it was 350 to one not including the 2 selling crafts. At the Nat. Garden Club convention in Baltimore a lady asked me if II felt like a duck out of water. It was more like a clown that wandered on to a stage full of ballerinas. I've never met a nasty gardener & my daughter's advice was "RIPPER"
        Good luck this southern hemisphere winter, Joe

        1. frankgreenhalgh 05/12/2017

          Hey Joe - I like Linda was a bit worried about your health, and missed your wonderful and insightful comments on GPOD. I think that 350:1 is a ripper of a ratio of females to males, mate. You know what, the ratio had not entered my head - I like you find all gardeners to be great people with good values etc. If your new social life allows we would love to see your regular comments back on GPOD. Cheers Joe from down under, mate

    2. Maggieat11 05/11/2017

      Great solution!!!

      1. user-3565112 05/11/2017

        Good evening Margaret, This system works well for me. My daughter bought me a pond net but I did'nt want to take a chance on a bird getting hung up in it. It takes about 15 min. to install & remove the twine.
        Good luck to you this season, Joe

    3. sheila_schultz 05/11/2017

      It's lovely to hear from you, Joe. I've missed your thoughtful words!

      1. user-3565112 05/11/2017

        Thank you for your kind remarks Sheila. Every weekday morning I glom onto GPOD & am always amazed by the creativity shown & the way you folks are able to pick up on the details that get by me. When I stumbled on this site 2 yrs. ago I remarked that it was like sitting at the counter in a coffee shop & watching a group of friends meeting every morning & enjoying each others company. I still feel that way.
        Good luck to you, Joe

        1. sheila_schultz 05/12/2017

          My dear gardening friend, I'm so touched by your kind words and observations, but from what I see in the gardening world... there are more male gardeners than females!!! Haha! Seriously, the most important thing to me is that GPOD has given life to a thoughtful gardening community that is appreciative of all of us caring for our surroundings. I'm so happy you are back Joe... as you can tell, we've missed you.

        2. tennisluv 05/12/2017

          Joe, I stumbled on this site a year ago and feel the same way as you do. Wonderful, kind group of people. Your description of the GPOD'ers is spot on.

        3. inesmalardino 05/13/2017


    4. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 05/11/2017

      Hi Joe, clever solution. Hope you're well.

      1. user-3565112 05/11/2017

        HI linda, I am doing well & want to thank you for your concern. The strings work for me. We remove the string when the water lilies spread & the fish do fine. I am looking forward to your posts from the PNW & hope all is well with you & your family also.
        Good luck, Joe

    5. linnyg. 05/11/2017

      We had a great blue heron stabbing our huge goldfish in the pond, then dropping them here and there in our yard. MOST frustrating. But a lady at Wal-Mart said to get an inexpensive gazing ball and float it in the pond --- objects are smaller than they appear. So when Mr. Heron would come in for a treat, he was met by a humongous heron flying towards him that always scared him off!!! Easy solution.

      1. user-3565112 05/11/2017

        Thank you Linda, I had a blue heron but i guess it was'nt big enough. I was finding fish in the yard also including some 12 in. Koi. I am attaching a photo of another character that did'nt earn his keep as a watchman .
        Good luck, Joe

      2. frankgreenhalgh 05/11/2017

        Hi Linda - a friend of mine hangs old CD discs from trees, and the reflection of light when the discs move in the wind keeps foxes and unwanted birds away from the area.

      3. Luvfall 05/12/2017

        Linda, I am going to try the gazing ball trick. A lot less work than Joe's string. So many great ideas from this blog. Now I need Kim to do a post from someone dealing with black walnuts so I can get some good ideas for that.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/11/2017

    Looks like you are being a worthy owner , Ann, of the lovely water feature that came along with your new home. It's wonderful that you get so much enjoyment out of it...using it as a destination point for a relaxing lunch and hobnobbing with the fish. I definitely enjoyed seeing your pictures showing the same general garden area through the seasons. I'm wondering if your "mystery" plant in photo #9 is one of the varieties of dwarf nandina? They give and hold color all year round. And, big YOWZA, that is the most amazing rhododendron I have ever seen. It deserves all the attention it is getting.

  6. Maggieat11 05/11/2017

    I enjoyed your post very much, Pam! The winter shot is especially lovely!! Great to see the pond at different angles, different seasons. Thanks for sharing!!! ...And including that amazing Rhodie!

  7. gardencook 05/11/2017

    You have a lovely garden and I would love to visit the B.C. coast and admire all the beautiful scenery that it has to offer. There is nothing like a water feature in a garden to enhance the beauty and give tranquility. So relaxing!!

  8. user-4691082 05/11/2017

    Ann, I also enjoyed your post very much. I avoid barberry because it hurts to maintain!!!!! You are obviously not bothered by it! I can almost feel the warmth sitting in the chair by the fence. Grocery store for plants? Now, that's a ripper!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 05/11/2017

      Looks like you have been indoctrinated, Rhonda. How is that thumb? Cheers, Frank

      1. user-4691082 05/11/2017

        Coming along, Frank, coming along slowly but surely. How are you?

        1. frankgreenhalgh 05/11/2017

          Glad things are moving in the right direction, Rhonda. I have a severe attack of gardening withdrawal symptoms. The autumn weather here is lovely. Chilly mornings followed by still and sunny days. Autumn colouration of foliage of deciduous trees is now at its peak for down here. Cheers my good friend

          1. sheila_schultz 05/11/2017

            Wow! Now that's one gorgeous shot of fall colors!

          2. frankgreenhalgh 05/11/2017

            Sheila, it is part of the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens near Adelaide in the State of South Australia. Cheers, Frank

          3. user-7007498 05/11/2017

            Great fall color, Frank.
            Glad your enjoying the cooler temps. We are just warming up here. 70's this week.

          4. User avater
            meander_michaele 05/11/2017

            Oh, my goodness, I feel I am looking at a Monet gorgeous.

          5. user-4691082 05/11/2017

            So I assume the photo is one you've taken from your helicopter! It's a ripper, for sure! ?

  9. NCYarden 05/11/2017

    How fortunate to have a pond already in place. Something really great to build a garden around. And it's a beautiful garden you have. I particularly keep finding my eye drawn to the bird statue with the Japanese maple behind it as if it were some fancy plumage. Fantastic! I'm gonna borrow this idea for one of my drawings. So thanks...and thanks for sharing your garden.

  10. chelleisdiggin 05/11/2017

    So very nice, Pam. Thank you for sharing. I love ponds and fish and yours is lovely! As others have said, I think I would spend all of my time out there.

  11. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/11/2017

    Everything is gorgeous (including what doesn't belong to you).

  12. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 05/11/2017

    I love seeing images of a garden throughout the year. It's almost like being there. You've a lovely pond and garden, and isn't it a treat to have a smaller garden to maintain. (Although i grouse when I don't have enough room to plant every darn thing I want.) I love Vancouver Island. What a magical place. You've done a great job and it's wonderful to hear how much you are able to enjoy it!

  13. annek 05/11/2017

    Viewing your beautiful pond photos made me think of that charming song from the '20's... ? I'm in heaven! ?.

  14. sheila_schultz 05/11/2017

    Pam, I'm curious... did you buy your home for the house or the garden surrounded pond? Haha! You are so very lucky to inherit such a beautiful property, and I'm quite sure the folks that created your beloved pond and surrounded it with picture perfect plantings are overjoyed that you love it as much as they did! What a gift for all of you! Please continue posting.

    1. astrom 05/11/2017

      You are right...I've found most houses have what you need. Its the garden and garden orientation (must face south and west in our area to maximize sun) that comes first for me. Thanks for your kind words. I've found gardeners are a very generous lot.

  15. anitaberlanga 05/11/2017

    wow! this is GORGEOUS! I love that you have not overthought it - sometimes I look at my garden and wonder if I've turned it into more of a job than needs be. Looking at your lovely space and reading your 'hey, it's okay!' tone, sets me back in the right place!

  16. greengenes 05/11/2017

    What a sweet place you have, Pam! I sure could see myself sitting there and enjoying the views! Thanks for showing us the different seasons as well. Those herons are beautiful birds to observe but they do forage in the water! They ate our large fish from our pond. The rhody is a wonder for sure! Glad you posted this too! Have a great spring and summer!

  17. user-7007498 05/11/2017

    Pam, thanks for sharing photos of your garden. I also appreciate the seasonal pictures. The plantings around the pond look great and it is awesome that you get to lunch with your fish.

    I guess your heron statue doesn't deter the real ones. I have a small 70 gallon pond up near our front door. Despite the size and location, a heron found it and stopped by every morning at 5am until all the goldfish were eaten. ?

  18. Cenepk10 05/11/2017

    Fabulous... love it all !!!

  19. schatzi 05/11/2017

    Pam, what a beautiful slice of Heaven you enjoy. Love the pond and fish and even the herons, if they would just fish somewhere else! A lovely garden to enjoy. Joe, what a clever idea to deter herons - glad it works, and it is so unobtrusive. Happy Spring, Everyone.

  20. Sunshine111 05/11/2017

    So lovely! I really enjoyed seeing all of your pond shots… You're so lucky to have been able to just move in to a property that was ready for you!

  21. linnyg. 05/11/2017

    Pam, I know it isn't nice to be jealous BUT....that is my first reaction. My second is, how blessed you are. First of all, Vancouver Island is an idealic setting. I used to have a penpal I met on the Victoria ferry who lived there --- back in the early 60's. As far as I'm concerned, Vancouver Island is the Hawaiian islands of the Pacific NW. Secondly, to inherit such a landscape is dreamy. Thirdly, getting to maintain it must be pure joy as you walk around gently pulling out a weed or two, lean over to smell the flowers, and sit and just gaze (at least that is what I picture you doing!)

  22. bsavage 05/11/2017

    Just gorgeous! Love your pond, and all of the landscape surrounding it. And the fish! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Luvfall 05/12/2017

    Pam, we've put our plants on blocks so that they have a place to hide. The herons are so magnificent that part of me wants them to come. We also have mink which have taken a few of our fish. We too do gold fish rather that koi so mitigate the loss from other wildlife.

  24. Chris_N 05/12/2017

    That is one heckuva big marsh marigold. What a beacon of gold that must be in the spring. Love the Siberian iris as well. Such a striking pattern on the petals. I appreciate seeing the photos from through the year.

  25. arboretum 05/12/2017

    pam, can't see it too well but your red foliage shrub might be nandina.

  26. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 05/12/2017

    Hi Pam, here's a bit of a late post but I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the photos of your pond garden and your story. You've truly found yourself a peaceful place to enjoy life. That rhodie is amazing. I'll bet I could almost see the pink glow of it from Whidbey Is.:) Thanks for sharing.

  27. tennisluv 05/12/2017

    Lovely, just lovely in every season. Thanks for sharing.

  28. inesmalardino 05/13/2017

    Stunning, what a joy and labor of love. The Koi are fabulous too. Lucky you...

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