The Bonsai Garden at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

Article by Jim Haskins ... Photos by John Mitchell

The Vancouver Island Bonsai Society is participating in an exciting new venture at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific – the creation of a Bonsai “display and learning” garden near the existing Takata Japanese Garden. This will be the first Bonsai Garden in Western Canada and the second in all of Canada.

This garden is being created by volunteers from both the Horticulture Centre and the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society and its initial development has been financially supported by a number of private donors and the VIBS.

The Bonsai garden was envisaged a number of years ago and has been a topic of discussion amongst a few club members for some time. Several years ago George Heffelfinger began discussing the placement of trees in the garden with the Executive Director of the HCP. This resulted in George personally loaning 18 trees to the HCP for display in the Gardens. While several of these trees are on display in the main courtyard of the Gardens most are located along the main path of the Takata Garden with several wonderful specimens on    display in the Zen Garden.

Tak & LarryIn the spring of 2012 a committee led by Larry Phillips with George Heffelfinger, John Mitchell, Jim Haskins together with Bob Clarke, representing the HCP, began the detailed planning of developmental phases. This committee secured the participation of Francois & Catherine Frutiger (Sagitta Landscape Solutions) who completed the final design of the Garden. In addition, Kent Macleod contributed significant time & resources to help bring the dream to reality.

George & Larry had a number of discussions with the Horticulture Centre and secured approximately an acre of land in the garden for the exclusive creation of the Bonsai Garden. In July of this year, with marking paint in hand, a small group of volunteers led by Francois and Catherine marked the locations of the paths, the display areas and most importantly the placement of the irrigation lines to bring water to all areas of the garden.

Subsequent work parties under Francois’ direction have seen the installation and testing of all the irrigation lines and the excavation and building of the pathways and display areas. The students of the Horticulture College of the Pacific have worked on reestablishment of the lawns and one of the Takata Garden volunteers is constructing the sheltered viewing bench for the garden.

George in Zen GardenGeorge Heffelfinger has graciously offered to loan a number of trees to start the garden and Larry and his team anticipate that the first trees will be installed in the garden in the early spring. Other members of the “bonsai community” have also indicated that they will provide trees for the collection as the garden evolves.

This bonsai garden would not be possible without the many hours of volunteer time and effort dedicated to the planning and development of the garden and most importantly to the caring of all the trees loaned to the Garden. This is a significant effort and Larry and his team are looking for volunteers for work parties in the Garden and to help provide the ongoing care and maintenance of the trees.

For further information and to volunteer your time to this major bonsai project please contact Larry Phillips

The following photographs from the summer of 2012 are part of the continuous record of the development
of The Bonsai Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific:

Irrigation BackhoeWork party

Kent & FrancoisTamping pathwaysViewing shelter

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