Tag Archives: Gardening in Saltair BC

Island Garden Scapes provides all services related to garden services and landscaping in Saltair British Columbia Canada on Vancouver Island. Including weeding, pruning, trimming, planting, grass cutting, lawn maintenance and garden design,

The challenges of being a Landscape Gardener on Vancouver Island

Although winter isn’t officially over the temperate climate on Vancouver Island allows me to garden all year long.  This garden is particularly large, set on a large property in Saltair BC.  I have worked in these gardens for a couple years now and the beauty of it always takes my breath away.  The house is set on the back of the property with the gardens and the ocean creating a perfect portrait of an ever changing landscape for the viewers eye.

Here it is not unusual to share the gardens with sea otters (the rascals love the fish pond), deer on a daily basis, bald eagles, kingfishers, and countless other birds, insects and bugs and even on occasion bears…they too come here.   Even a cougar or two have been spotted in the area over the  years.  Such are the challenges of working in a rain forest climate.  It definitely adds to the challenges of being a landscape gardener.  For not only am I battling the constant growing cycle of plants and  weeds which grow all year long, I am also trying to figure out ways to control or at the very least minimize the damage done by animals as they wander through the gardens in search of their next appetizer or feast.

There really are no absolute answers.  Once, right after I started landscaping on Vancouver Island, I went to Art Knapps Garden Centre in Comox Valley BC and ask them if they had a list of plants that were deer resistant.  Of course they did as this is a problem for every garden on Vancouver Island.  I then proceeded to design a garden with only deer resistant plants.  I felt such a sense of pride on completion.  The very next day I stood and watched as a family of deer wandered through the garden tasting everything I had planted, on occasion spitting out bites of plants that weren’t to their liking.  I stood and watched them with disdain thinking…can someone please tell them to stop eating these plants…after all they are deer resistant! Yet at the same time, it is such an honour to work with nature and to realize the challenges that nature faces because of humans.  We live in their world and have  continually taken more of their habitat.  So the next time you are frustrated with critters…remember it is their ecosystem we operate in.

So if you are struggling with critters in your garden doing things you do not want them to do or things they are not supposed to do…remember you are not alone!  There are no definitive answers… a net across the fish pond to control the otters…and they don’t come anymore because since then they have eaten all the fish.  And as I watched the mother teaching her little ones how to fish, I realized how fortunate I was to experience this.  There was once a time not so very long ago that they were endangered.  Imagine, with this vast ocean coastline such a species disappearing!

I have taken out all of the tasty morsel plants that deer eat and still they come. I have learned even the plants they do not like they will eat when tender new shoots come in the spring!  So the next time you are frustrated as I have been many times…know that without this ecosystem we would not be able to landscape or garden.

See you next time….in the garden or the garden centre!

sea otter familysea otters fishing

deer in the garden

A Garden Challenge

After moving to Ladysmith BC from Comox Valley BC, I took on my first garden job in the area.  The gardens are considerably large and were overgrown tremendously.  That first season in the garden saw many challenges. In early summer the garden owners went on holidays.  I had met with them prior to their departure and discussed their garden plans.  They had purchased the property the year prior and were looking for someone to weed.   Not much had been done for a few years in the gardens!  The garden designs were there and at one time had been quite beautiful but had since overgrown to the point where much was overshadowed by weeds and overgrown plants.  This proved to be one such challenge.  I had walked and worked in the garden many times and had avoided this corner of the garden because I did not know what to do.  In this corner of the garden sits a dwarf tree…meant to be a focal point and now it was an eye sore!  I must have walked around that tree 20 times.  Always unsettled about what to cut or do with it…I even considered cutting it down!  However, I could not as it is not my garden and I would never make such a decision without the garden owner’s permission.  And here is the tree…come to think of it…there were two in the gardens…one on each end and each was very overgrown and mis-shaped…

overgrown shrub2overgrown shrub1

A Gardener’s Paradise…cleaning a pond and water fall

pond garden1 pond garden 2

Pond Cleanuppond garden 3

Before clean up


pond garden 4pond garden 5

After Clean up!


I often call myself the extreme landscaper.  I love taking on BIG landscape or garden clean up jobs!  Not only because I love the challenge but because I am a visual person and love the garden restoration after it is complete!  The work is often tedious and painstaking and often times at the end of a work period it seems I have made no headway!  But then almost magically, the garden comes to life and is revitalized.  Many,  many times after a garden is complete and I download the final photos and compare them with the before photos…I am amazed and energized by the garden work I have completed!  This clean up was one such challenge.  The pond and walkway had been overgrown for some years and it often times seems endless as it was a very detailed labour intensive job.  I worked it that garden yesterday and walked the steps up past the pond and it has held up to the test of time.  I completed this job a few seasons ago and still it is clean and beautiful!  So very happy with the end result…and MOST importantly so are the Garden Owners! 🙂