It’s Ireland on a bright shiny spring day. On Tuesday I met up with Laird at the tail end of one of his epic business trips, and we spent the last couple of days at Dromoland Castle near Limerick. What a treat! I’ll post some pictures early next week.
In the meantime, some great news: The folks from Merit Motion Pictures have at long last released DVD’s of season 1 and 2 of their marvellous tv series, Recreating Eden.
As Canada’s only gardening-biography series, Recreating Eden takes a
close look at how gardens inspire peoples’ lives. Each episode features
a unique story of a gardener who takes the viewer on a tour of his or
her garden paradise as well as on an intimate journey into their
personal lives, the lives of their family, their community, and their
The price for each set is $59.95 CDN plus taxes and shipping & handling for a total of $69.85 (if you are ordering outside of Canada, contact them directly for a price for shipping). Canadian cheques or money orders should be made out to Merit Motion Pictures and sent to:
Merit Motion Pictures
Att: Jennifer Jensen
#324 – 142 Woodside Ave
For more information phone: (519) 620-2681
Continue reading for a complete listing of episodes.
Season I episode descriptions
“The Colour of Love”
Sandra and Nori Pope find love at Hadspen Garden, Somerset, England.
The story of two people brought together by their mutual passion for gardening, plants and colour. Sandra and Nori Pope ran a successful flower nursery in Victoria B.C., but when they discovered the sadly neglected Hadspen Gardens in England, they knew they were the ones to take on the challenge of restoring them. The Popes sold their business and their home, packed up everything and moved to Somerset, England, where they rediscovered a passion for gardens, and each other.
“A Healing Tradition”
Heather Bakazius, Singhampton, Ontario
Concerned about western medicine and its heavy reliance on prescription drugs, Heather Bakazias left a successful career as a psychiatric nurse and moved to a fifty acre farm near the tiny village of Singhampton, just south of Georgian Bay in Ontario. Her move reconnected her with a long family heritage in herbal medicine. Nestled in acres of wildflowers, Heather has built a retreat where she counsels people toward an holistic approach to living in the wilds, and gathers herbs to use in her own line of herbal products.
“Gardener by Duty”
Baron Axel Bonaert inherits a 17th century garden, Freyr Castle, Belgium
Axel Bonaert is a man caught in two worlds – the modern day world of his chosen career as a computer engineer, and the world he has inherited as heir to the Freyr estate and gardens, that date back to 1760. Built in the tradition of the French Renaissance, with 350 year-old orange trees that originated from the Court of Lorraine, the estate is phenomenal, and for many, an inheritance of this opulence would be a dream. However, 21st century demands weigh heavily on this modern baron, and for Axel, the inheritance is definitely a mixed blessing.
“Reflections of the Soul”
Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier’s Victoria Garden, Victoria, B.C.
Patrick Lane and Lorna Crosier have created a sensational garden at their home in Victoria, BC. Both renowned poets, their writings draw heavily on the symbolism a garden provides – for Patrick, it is a metaphor for life and for Lorna, a source of erotic imagery. The garden was instrumental in Patrick’s recovery from alcoholism and served as inspiration for Addicted: Stories From the Belly of the Beast, a collaborative work edited by Patrick and Lorna that features writing on addiction from a diverse range of Canadian writers.
“A Garden Sanctuary”
Des Kennedy’s spiritual journey on Denman Island, B.C.
Des Kennedy has made a career of combining his passion for the earth and love of the spoken and written word. A former monk who left his order for an even greater calling, Des’s depth of knowledge on gardening has earned him a loyal Canadian audience for his writing, television and public appearances. Des reveals how he has managed to create a spiritual lifestyle which enables him to merge his passion for gardening and the environment with his public life as a humourist, writer and journalist.
“Garden of Controversy”
Douglas Counter challenges our basic ideas about what a garden should be.
To Douglas Counter, the naturalized garden he planted at his Etobicoke home as a memorial to his mother represents a meditation space of natural beauty. It is also a unique and inexpensive approach to filtering pollutants from streams that run through his community. Follow Douglas as he challenges the City’s by-laws to protect not only his environmentally important sanctuary from nuisance complaints, but the rights of all gardeners to heal the environment.
“The “Art” of Gardening”
Art Luna creates celebrity hair and garden designs in Los Angeles, California
Though he’s the man behind the hair of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, legendary hair stylist Art Luna considers himself first and foremost a garden designer. Over the years, Mr. Luna has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense hairstylist, intolerant of divas – he has even been known
to refuse service at his salon to less than gracious movie stars. But from his garden clients, he demands only appreciation and passion for the fabulous gardens he creates.
“Tending to my Soul”
Trish Oktober rediscovers her childhood happiness in the isolated Blue Mountains of Australia. Trish Oktober was raised in the freedom of Australia’s outback, spending her days communing with nature, and for as long as she can remember, has taken that inspiration and turned it into art. A renowned illustrator, artist and author, Trish’s life hasn’t always been easy, failing at three marriages and losing two children in infancy, the tragedy of which eventually tore her third marriage apart. Five years ago, she rediscovered her childhood happiness in the form of a garden paradise in the Blue Mountains, where she has surrounded herself with flowers from all over the world, many of which have become the subjects of watercolours that grace her books and local art galleries.
“La Maison Verte”
A couple’s lifelong dream to open an artist’s retreat in Roujan, France
Five years ago, Nicola Russell and Teddy Hutton left their home in Oxford, England to follow their dream. They bought a domain in a small town in the south of France and turned it into an artist’s retreat. Artists themselves, they now play host to painters, dancers, actors, sculptors and writers from all over the world who come to work and reflect in the garden paradise that Nicola and Teddy have created.
“A Growing Community”
Laura Berman coordinates 100 community gardens in Toronto.
“I want community gardens to be as common in big cities as libraries,” says Laura Berman, coordinator of the Food Share Community Garden program in Toronto. Laura used to be a landscape architect, but grew tired of creating elaborate and expensive back yards for people who simply wanted a garden because they had money. She now designs and implements community gardens that provide food for people in need, which satisfies her more than any expensive garden ever would.
Maria Galletti hunts for alpine plants, Sutton, Quebec
Maria Galletti is a woman on a mission to find rare varieties and propagate the “precious jewels” of the plant world, alpine plants. These incredibly small plants can be challenging to grow but at Alpines Mont Echo, Maria’s garden and nursery in Sutton Quebec, she has found ways of growing them in the most difficult conditions. She has also grown in reputation, slowly evolving from an immigrant entrepreneur to battle her way through the male-dominated world of alpine plant hunters, only to find herself one of the most respected alpine specialists in the world.
“Keeper of The Dream”
Alexander Reford keeps his great grandmother, Elsie Reford’s memory alive in Reford Gardens, Quebec
The Reford Garden (formerly Les Jardins de Métis) is one of Canada’s most historic landscapes, thanks to both its creator, Elsie Reford, and her great-grandson, Alexander Reford. Although the gardens were sold to the Quebec government for a time after Elsie’s death, the estate is now back in Reford hands, and it is thanks to Alexander’s tenacity and background as a History professor, as well as Elsie’s extensive archives that the family has been able to slowly restore the garden to its former glory.
“A Garden of One’s Own”
Douglas Chambers combines his passion for literature and gardening on his family’s 150 year-old homestead near Walkerton, Ontario.
His passion for literature and gardening history is what eventually drew Douglas Chambers away from the life of a professor and back to his family’s farm. With the use of pedestals and inscripted stones, Douglas Chambers creates quasi historic landscapes wherein both his personal and our greater history is brought into relief. In his beautiful garden, with plants and text, he actively celebrates his favorite poets, indulges himself in the mysterious atmospheres of Chinese gardens and commemorates a succession of European kings; while other planting schemes in the garden are devoted to a sense of the history of the area itself and to Chambers’ own pledges to the memories of lost friends and relations.
Season II episode descriptions
Captain Dick Steele promotes peace through breeding rhododendrons at Bayport Farm, Nova Scotia
Captain Steele believes beauty has the power to transform lives. After surviving two major wars as a Naval Officer, Steele was disillusioned by the world until he discovered that he could once again find beauty and serenity on earth in the form of the Rhododendron flower. Now recognized as one of the best hybridizers of Rhododendrons in North America, Captain Steele has created over 100 new variations and continues to nourish and breed his flowers at his nursery, Bayport Farm.
“A Perfect Life”
How Marjorie Harris’ urban garden changed her life in Toronto, Ontario.
Marjorie Harris, editor-in-chief of Gardening Life Magazine credits the 19 x 100 foot plot of land behind her house in Toronto for changing her life. This beautiful urban garden is recognized across the country for its beauty and lushness and has been a source of inspiration for much of Marjorie’s writing.
“Garden of the Gods”
Freeman Patterson finds joy and healing in his garden in Shamper’s Bluff, New Brunswick.
According to Freeman Patterson "gardening is an act of creation and the primary responsibility of our lives is to be creative." Therefore whenever possible, this world-renowned photographer combines his love for gardening with his passion for photography. As we travel from the forested land he calls home on Shamper’s Bluff to the wildflower compound in Namaqualand, South Africa where he teaches regular seminars, we are invited to observe the beauty of the wild which has brought joy and healing to Freeman’s life.
“A Tuscan Dream”
Vancouver Restaurateur, Umberto Menghi discovers his own paradise at his vineyard Villa Delia, in the hills of Tuscany, Italy.
Vancouver restaurateur Umberto Menghi has created his very own paradise in the form of a seventeenth century villa he has recently restored in his native homeland of Tuscany. Surrounded by miles of vineyards and olive trees, Villa Delia is a cooking school, a luxury resort and a second home for Umberto and his family and fulfills the dream of uniting his love of food and fine wine together with his love for the Tuscan countryside.
“A Garden Legacy”
Canadian Writer, Wendy Thomas and her husband Trevor nurture their ancestral garden at Park House on the Isle of Mull. For Canadian garden writer Wendy Thomas there is nowhere she would rather be than in her garden at Park House on the Island of Mull. After dedicating over five years of her life in fighting the ancient feudal system in Scotland in order to rightfully claim her husband’s family home, Wendy proudly maintains the garden with a great reverence towards the work of her ancestors.
“The Jurassic Gardener”
Former CFL football player Gerry Herron trades in the fast life for the gardening life in Kelowna, BC. Tired after years of living the fast life of socializing, traveling, and working around the clock, Gerry Herron, former football player with the BC Lions, decided to re-focus his energy into his own backyard. From what was once a shady gravel pit, Gerry has created an Eden that defies nature and breaks all rules of gardening.
“A Charmed Life”
Thomas Hobbs creates beauty with orchids at his Southlands Nursery in Vancouver, British Columbia. Thomas Hobbs began growing seeds at the age of five years old, owned his first greenhouse at the age of ten, and began breeding orchids by the time he was fourteen. Formerly the founder of the renowned "Thomas Hobbs Florist" in Vancouver, and author of the book "Shocking Beauty", Thomas is now the proud owner of "Southlands Nursery", a nursery which he claims has enabled him to live a "charmed life". The nursery is the culmination of a lifetime of loving and growing plants, and from it Thomas proudly supplies gardens all over the world with his creations.
“Orchids in the Snow”
Jason Lin and his family carve a niche for themselves in the Winnipeg snow.
Jason Lin has built Evergreen Orchids into one of the largest suppliers of orchids in western Canada. World class orchid hybridizers, they’ve won every orchid competition that they’ve entered. This is an immigrant success story, the story of how a Taiwanese family followed their dream and established an orchid nursery in the most unlikely place, Winnipeg. We have shot an orchid competition, the winter footage of the nursery, and the open house they host every February which attracts buyers from all over Canada. All we need to shoot to complete the story is the interview.
“The Garden that Love Built”
The Abkhazi Gardens are the result of a passionate love affair between Prince Nicolas and Princess Peggy in Victoria, British Columbia.
Princess Peggy and Prince Nicolas Abkhazi were long time friends whose relationship, due to life circumstances, was never permitted to go beyond the writing of letters. After the war though, their paths crossed once again, but this time resulted in deep found love and marriage, and a new life in Victoria BC where they created their own Eden. After the Abkhazi¹s deaths, the garden risked falling into the hands of developers only to be saved by the passionate people of Victoria, including Valerie Murray who has dedicated her life to the well-being of the garden and preserving the memory of this romantic story.
“The Garden of Egan”
Kieran Egan creates a Zen garden – the Irish way – in Vancouver, BC.
In the heart of suburban Vancouver is an oasis of calm, a place where one can contemplate life and enjoy time going by. This piece of Eden, which was originally a backyard playground, is now a backyard Zen garden created by Dr. Kieran Eagan. Author of "Building My Zen Garden", Kieran takes us on a journey from how what he originally envisioned as a small strip with some stones eventually grew into a pond with a small stream, a waterfall, and a tea-house.
John Hardy designs jewelry and creates an organic world in Bali, Indonesia
More than a designer of jewelry, John Hardy is a storyteller who is keeping a culture and a past alive through his jewelry and home furnishings designs. An inhabitant of Bali, John draws inspiration from the local artisans who work to create his musings into masterpieces and the lush tropical landscape that surrounds his extraordinary open air longhouse and verdant terraced gardens. John’s approach to his creative work and domestic lifestyle has always been organic and luxurious. His passion is a primitive minimalism. "We’re living in one of the most beautiful places on the planet…we don’t need ornamentation."
“Touched by Luck”
How one risk resulted in life-changing good fortune for a young American couple on the island of Bali. In 2002, Ben Ripple, an organic farmer, decided to take a risk and gave $200.00 to a woman in distress in exchange for suspicious airline coupons. Luckily enough the coupons turned out to be good for travel anywhere in the world and Ben, accompanied by his future wife Blair, decided to fly to Bali for their "dream" vacation. While on the island, they were offered 8 acres of land for free, found work on a local movie set which enabled them to start their own business, and eventually became in the short period of 18 months successful owners of an organic farming operation on the island of Bali. Now their tremendous array of crops number over eighty and the fields measure over 10 acres. What was intended as a vacation quickly turned into a life transformation.
“Garden of Hope”
At a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania, New York Landscape Architect, David Kamp creates a healing garden that has the power to transform many lives.
David Kamp was a New York landscape architect with a high profile job and a great future, who worked on rewarding projects like the Australian Parliament House. But in the 1990s he left all of this behind to start his own business dedicated to the creation of restorative gardens which he believes in passionately. David contends that nature has significant therapeutic qualities and is essential to health and well-being. Today, he is applying this attitude to all of his projects including a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania, which is helping to restore an entire community.
“The Garden of Cosmic Speculation”
Charles Jencks combines a fascination with science and nature in a Scottish garden.
Charles Jencks, the internationally renowned American architectural critic and designer has transformed a Scottish estate into one of the most original and important gardens of the 21st Century. He has created a unique Eden he calls the “Garden of Cosmic Speculation” where his interests in sculpture, architecture and landscape design combine in making his garden a work of “Cosmogenic Art”.
“The Garden of Earthy Delights”
Marcia Donahue combines art and nature in her garden in Berkley, California
American artist and gardener, Marcia Donahue regards earth and plants as ideal artistic materials, a philosophy which has guided her to produce a wildly whimsical garden that not only serves as her personal paradise but also as her living canvas to express her art. Donahue is also a founding member of the Hortisexuals, a group of gardeners from across North America who share a mutual admiration of the eccentric and a disdain for the conventional.