Garden Photo of the Day

Stella’s garden on Vancouver Island, Day 2

Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Stella Carriere

Today’s photos are a continuation of our tour through Stella Carriere’s garden. In case you missed it yesterday, she said, “I moved to this property in Cedar on Vancouver Island between Nanaimo and Ladysmith in the fall of 1999. Just a fraction under 3/4 of an acre, areas had been cleared for the house and septic field, leaving a good number of native cedar, fir, alder, and arbutus. Rather than cutting them down and designing the garden from a blank slate, the trees were left, including two clumps of big leaf maple suckers, and the garden was developed around them.

“The property has very little soil as I sit on a shale pocket and the native trees are very shallow-rooted but I work with what I have. What started as a sunny garden too hot to support hostas brought from my garden in Vancouver has now evolved into a shaded garden.”

Large trees in the background are native Douglas fir.

Stella, you only showed us the tiniest glimpse, from a distance, of your vegetable garden. We need an up-close tour ASAP!! Everything is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!

Veg garden behind the trellis.

——I know you all have some days off for the holidays…So go take a photographic stroll through the photos you took in your garden this year, and send some in to me! [email protected]….. Thanks!

Grassy area over septic field.
Flaking bark on one of the three arbutus trees on the property. They are a VERY MESSY, MESSY tree. Always shedding leaves, bark, and fruit. A true love/hate relationship.
Downy woodpeckers have played havoc on the Jacquemontti birch. I’ve wrapped them with styrofoam door sill tape to try to keep them from girdling the trunks with their holes. If anyone has ideas on how to control them I would love to hear from you.

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 12/24/2013

    stella, it's all just absolutely breathtaking and hard to believe it's 3/4 acre. altho, the photos are beautiful , this is another garden i want to get lost in and discover stuff. have the coffee ready..........May and I will be right over for a walkabout.

  2. wGardens 12/24/2013

    Oh, my! This is just FAB! I love it all... and some great photos too... the first one ... with the play of sunlight amonst the plants... wowie! What a special place you have... I too would love to stroll about and take it all in first hand. Special, indeed!

    Best Wishes to everyone for a lovely Christmas with family and/or friends.

  3. Plantstuff 12/24/2013

    Stella - your garden is stunning! I agree it is one of those gardens you would love to take a walk in many times over. I feel the energy that is in your garden right through my iPad. Simply amazing. Is that a bird nesting platform? I must get to Vancouver sometime, every picture I see is breathtaking. Thanks for sharing your garden.

  4. flowerladydi 12/24/2013

    Stella,,, it is FABULOUS!!!! Looking at the photos of the paths,, I feel as though I am slowly walking down ,,, taking in all that there is,,, LOVE the Nootkatensis,,, what looks like a Concolor fir?,,, white pine,,,, It looks like a park,,,,
    Your perennials look sooooo very healthy and fresh, bergenia looks awesome!
    Lovely picture,,, fabulous yard! Yesterdays were awesome too, did not get a chance to write, but so love EVERYTHING!! Not familiar with the arbutus tree, as it is not our zone,, but it looks fabulous! I love funky trees with different bark/habits,,, such personality. You have done a beautiful job,,, truly well done!
    Merry Christmas!!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/24/2013

    Stella, I feel you must have magical have made 3/4 of an acre seem like a much larger botanical wonderland. I love the generous proportions of your stone roadway and its gracious it the driveway into your property or an additional very inviting pathway? The picture that includes the arbutus, the garden shed and the swath of blue blossoms hydrangea is so fact, I'm going to stop writing and go look at it some more.
    Ho, ho ho to all. For those of us who might be receiving Christmas gifts, we'll have to report in on whether or not Santa left some garden friendly goodies.

  6. Jaynespaulding 12/24/2013

    I love the dappled light in your garden. Makes everything in it sparkle. Thanks for sharing your garden this morning!
    I am guilty of enjoying the garden photos almost every morning with my coffee, but not thanking the gardeners. So, thanks to everyone who has shared their bits of paradise! My dream life: walking through one continuos garden tour after another....Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/24/2013

    Wonderful! I know it's not a photography blog, but I have to say I love how the bright light and strong shadows make the photos pop. They are very evocative of time of day and give the photos such a feeling of being there. sometimes you have to break the rules!

  8. Lisianne 12/24/2013

    I find this so calming! Beautifully simple. And so GREEN -- on a dull December day!

  9. Quiltingmamma 12/24/2013

    By photo 2, I was thinking I hope she opens her garden up, as it is indeed public garden worthy. The stunner is that arbour around the veggie garden. It is lovely. The shed area also demands some more pictures and an explanation of all the other hardscapes around it.
    The lighting, blends of trees & perennials formal and relaxed, well, you have done a stellar job.

  10. mainer59 12/24/2013

    Ditto to what others have said! I especially like the top of the right column. It looks like a painting the way the colors and light interplay. As for the woodpeckers, when we had an issue with a maple tree, we were told that they were eating bugs and if the tree dies, it would die anyway because insects were in it because it was compromised. As it turned out, the tree recovered on its own and the woodpeckers went away. You should probably ask a tree professional.

  11. bee1nine 12/24/2013

    Have been marveling over your most FANTASTIC over-all landscape design. And the majestic and glorious evergreen trees that bring great structure to the eye, so finely anchored. Everything is so picturesque!

    Stupendous job, Stella!!

    * One of the real joys this holiday season is this opportunity to say a BIG thank you to everyone and wishing you all the very best for the new year!!!

  12. celiahoneysuckle 12/24/2013

    Beautiful garden, you must have an abundant supply of leaf mulch. As regards a woodpecker repellent, I have used a fine gauged metal netting on trees to prevent my cats from clawing them to death. It was successful and the tree trunk was able to breathe. Happy Christmas to everyone!

  13. tractor1 12/24/2013

    tractor1 writes:

    Stella, I like how all your photos include sky, I like the 3rd down on the right best... with that deep blue sky and the sun to your back. I have to agree that your 3/4 acre seems much larger. As to the woodpeckers they are doing what woodpeckers do, they are eating insects, so I totally agree with mainer59, I'd too have an arborist have a look. Sometimes there's an insecticide to apply that will be effective. Something you can try is to lure the woodpeckers away by placing suet blocks away from your birch trees. Woodpeckers eat bird seed too so put out a couple of feeders.
    Thank you, Stella... and Merry Christmas to all!

  14. toweringpines 12/24/2013

    Love your garden Stella, I am extremely envious.The rest of Canada knows your secret; you get rain and lots of it. LOL
    We are in day 3 of severest ice storm I have ever seen in Ontario; lots of people still without power.
    Your garden pictures were just what I needed this morning.
    Like so many others I start everyday with GPOD.
    Thank you Michelle!!!!!

  15. greengenes 12/24/2013

    Good morning! Thanks for all the beautiful gardens and inspirations they have brought to all of us! And Stella, yours have seemed to top them all at the end of the year! I enjoy all the green! It truly is amazing that it is only a little less than one acre! It is very calming and inviting! Thankyou and happy gardening! I am looking forward to seeing more!

  16. GrannyMay 12/24/2013

    Thank you Stella for sharing more of your beautiful garden. My favourite view in this particular group would be the top photo on the right. I could jump right into that picture!

    Yes, Arbutus trees have a reputation for being messy, but I agree that they are worth it. A few weeks ago they were all alive with huge flocks of robins and other berry-eaters, probably filling up on their way south. I like the dwarf variety because you can see their beauty up close.

    I too had woodpeckers attacking my European weeping birch trees. Eventually they moved on, none came by this year, and the trees have survived, though with patterns of holes all along the trunks.

    Stella, I have to agree with everyone else that it would be great to explore your garden with a long walkabout. Jeff, we'll pick up Catherine (GrannyCC) on the way and go visit... but I think we should wait till the birches leaf up again in the spring. Stella is probably less than a couple of hours drive north of us, but she might have snow right now. Merry Christmas!

  17. olympic_mtn_gardener 12/24/2013

    Stunningly beautiful garden! I will add this garden to my list of favorites to refer back to for inspiration as I’m working to create a garden around the existing trees on our property.

    It is amazing how green and healthy everything looks considering how many days we went without rain this summer. Those tall trees really take up the water, so you must have put a lot of effort into keeping everything well-watered!

    We live across the Straits from Vancouver Island. Not far, as the birds fly. Our neighbors have the same woodpecker problem on their birches that you describe, although their damage appears to be sapsucker damage, which has a distinctive pattern. This WSU extension publication has good images of sapsucker damage:

    The tree does not have to have an insect infestation to be attractive to these birds, as they are attracted to the sap of healthy thin-barked trees. Recommendations include wrapping the tree with burlap or using a sticky or tacky bird repellents such as Tanglefoot®, smeared in wavy bands with a caulking gun on trunks where sapsuckers are doing damage.

    I missed yesterday’s post, but caught up today. I’m wondering whether your gunnera in a pot stays outside all winter, or do you move it inside when the temperatures really drop?

    Happy holidays to all!

  18. GrannyCC 12/24/2013

    Thanks for more photos. I too would love to wander down those paths with their lovely edgings. I will join Jeff and May on that walk. All the plants look very healthy and vibrant.
    Merry Christmas to all. Have a rest before all the Spring work begins.

  19. wildthyme 12/24/2013

    Stella, I don't have anything new to offer over and above all the other comments: your garden is gorgeous. My particular favorites are the curving lawn, the generous arbor, the trellised veggie garden, the cohesive use of stone . . . I guess I could go on and on! It's really lovely, and somehow just LOOKS like Vancouver. I almost could have guessed the location.

    One last comment: even though the woodpeckers have moved on I too would have an arborist check the birches. They are notorious for borers (the birches, not the arborists!), which attract insect-eating birds like woodpeckers.

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