What happened was, we have a house-guest from Australia who’s already seen a bit of BC, and we also have an Internet-retail relationship with the Old Rose Nursery, which is found on Hornby Island, a speck in the ocean between the mainland and (the very large) Vancouver Island. We wanted to visit the Nursery in the flesh, and they say Hornby’s pretty nice, and not only Sally but we had never been there, so I took Friday off in honour of the USA and we went. (This part of the world ain’t real wired, thus ongoing has been silent. Not thinking about work and syndication technology was a refreshing change. But this is addictive you know; I really missed posting to ongoing.)

The first leg of the trip is on BC Ferries, one of the mainline runs from Vancouver’s northern ferry terminal over to Nanaimo, a city on Vancouver Island whose name comes from an old Indian word meaning “Too many shopping malls.”

The mainline ferries are big boats with room for hundreds of cars. While the gap between the mainland and Vancouver Island doesn’t look that big on the map, the view is expansive. In the shot below, note the three little white things lined up on the horizon: those are barges in tug-towed tandem. This is a working waterway, big-time.

View from the BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo

You get off the big ferry, drive past all those malls, and and an hour or so north you come to Buckley Bay, where a much smaller ferry takes you over to Denman Island. Mechanical nautical technology of a certain age has a a real visual charm, I think.

Buckley Bay, terminus of the ferry from Vancouver Island to Denman Island

You have to go to Denman Island because it’s between Vancouver and Hornby islands, so you drive across Denman and catch another even smaller ferry to Hornby; the schedules are staggered so it all fits together.

Only we didn’t make the connection; we detoured and visited the Wildside Native Plant Nursery (it doesn’t have a Web presence) on Denman. By “native” they mean indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, not imported. We make an effort to grow a few natives, for example the trilliums I wrote up here back in May. Wildside is an awfully nice place, its proprietor both welcoming and erudite.

I captured the cutie below there, I have no idea what it is.


They had this maple tree with red keys, something I’ve never seen before. It’s called a Vine Maple, Acer circinatum.

Maple tree with red keys

Across from the nursery, in front of the proprietors’ house, was a totally mind-blowing garden patch featuring poppies. Tall, beautiful ones, more or less the same species, I believe, that is upstream in the world’s heroin traffic; but awfully pretty.

Poppy Garden at XXX

I took about a dozen shots of this poppy, trying to bring the camera’s auto-focus to bear on the flower’s inner heart and (argh) I didn’t take notes, so I don’t know what the trick was, because only one came out. Worth the effort though, I’d say.

Looking into a crimson poppy

We didn’t spend that long at Wildside (they didn’t have any trilliums for sale or we might have), so we had half-an-hour to kill at the very minor-league Denman-to-Hornby ferry terminal. The kid and I went wandering down an abandoned boat-ramp, and I was mesmerized by the spectacle of hundreds of little crabs hurtling around in maybe six inches of water, foraging and fighting and generally putting on a terrific show. Here are some.

crabs at low tide

We got to Hornby and drove pretty well the whole extent of the available road on the island (about fifteen minutes’ worth) to get to our B&B. Island culture is really distinctive. Some mutter dismissively that the sixties never ended on the smaller ones, others about small-town attitudes and everyone selling hand-carvings and hand-readings and astral essences to each other to pretend to make a living, while the real money is provided by cottagers and the people who work for BC Ferries.

Anyhow, the ethos is centred on the earth and the arts and the children. It’s really very pleasant. We went for dinner to the Cardboard House integrated pizza parlour, bakery, handmade-fashion outlet, and barbecue joint. And indeed it was kind of like being in a nicer corner of a Tom Robbins novel. The pizza was good, the kids ran around and had a blast, and I bought a locally-made fashion statement, a nice summery short-sleeved shirt. The food was eaten on picnic tables, some under trees, on the lawn outside the cooking establishment. Among the bushes I found some lacy green vegetation with a really startling colour, it looks something like fennel.

vegetation at the Cardboard House Cafe, Hornby Island

Finally, here’s a sub-tribe of children scrambling around an abandoned tractor. In town this thing would probably be banned as dangerous litigation bait, but that didn’t bother the kids.

kids playing on tractor at the Cardboard House Cafe, Hornby Island

author · Dad
colophon · rights

July 05, 2003
· Garden (118 more)
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