JARS v58n2 - A 'Chosin Garden

A 'Chosin Garden
Carol Dancer with Robin Hopper
Victoria, British Columbia

This is the garden of two artists, Robin Hopper and Judi Dyelle. It is located in the rural community of Metchosin on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The property is nearly six acres of which approximately two and one half acres have been developed as a garden. The rest has been left to fill in with native plants.

In the wild area there is a meadow filled with indigenous flowers, vines, and shrubs. There is also a stand of old growth Douglas fir, Garry oaks and native maples. These ancient trees are the framework for the garden, and they also became the nucleus for a collection of trees planted by Robin over the past twenty years. The property has now been zoned a British Columbia heritage tree site. The house is also on the heritage register as one of the earliest farms west of Victoria.

Path leading to Robin Hopper's workshop The dry stream with ceramic koi.
Path leading from the showroom to
Robin Hopper's workshop.
Photo by Joe Harvey
The dry stream with ceramic koi.
Photo by Joe Harvey

The overall space uses the concept of the Japanese stroll garden. The paths run like a river taking one on a journey through a series of small gardens. Each of these small gardens is designed to give the overall garden interest year round. Also much thought has been given to finding the appropriate plants for the various areas.

The woodland garden contains many mature rhododendrons that flower from late January through July. These are treasured plants because many were gifts from plant people who are no longer with us. The witch hazels, magnolias and azaleas give this garden added variety and texture.

R. fulvum
Rhododendron fulvum
Photo by Joe Harvey

The Mediterranean garden comes into its own in the dry summer months that Victoria experiences each year. Grasses, euphorbias, phormiums and other drought tolerant plants are the backbone of this garden.

The teahouse by the pond is sheer magic. The views from the teahouse change as the seasons change. A 30-foot Japanese Osakazuki maple dominates this area and produces some stunning reflections in the pond.

Sculpture is now being incorporated into the garden. This is to help with the year-round interest and also to create focal points that help lead the visitor through the garden. It has been a collaboration with local craftsmen to achieve interesting results in this area of gardening.

Robin feels that creating a garden is probably the most difficult of all art forms. One difficulty is combining space, structure, texture and colour with climate, seasonal change and growing conditions. He also feels that the development of the garden has been the most extensive and gratifying artwork that he has ever done or expects to do.

This garden will be included in the tours being organized for the ARS 2005 Annual Convention to be held in Victoria, Canada.

Carol Dancer is a member of the Victoria Chapter.