Russell Nursery

“Gardening is how I relax.  It’s another form of creating and playing with colours.”  — Oscar de la Renta

How lucky I felt to find this charming and well-stocked garden nursery close to our home when we first moved to the Greater Victoria area!

Just driving through the entrance gate, even on this December day, made me feel warm, knowing I was entering one of my “happy places”.

On this visit, my eye was immediately attracted to this leatherleaf mahonia which bursts out in spring with stalks of yellow flowers, and in fall shows off its needle-edged leaves topped with blue berries.
Russell Nursery staff have a solid knowledge of their plants and our microclimate here on the Peninsula.

Upon their recommendation, I’ve planted Mountain Fire Pieris (above), ubiquitous in this area, and various rhododendrons which even now in December sneak out a few blossoms, like this ‘Elizabeth Ostbo’ rhodo (below), ready to burst open…..

……….and this overly optimistic ‘Hansel’ rhododendron (below).

Walking past the benches of heathers,

I was drawn to one of my favourite performers, the Callicarpa beautyberry shrub (below).

Russell Nursery offers pottery, next to their shade garden.

Walking in the shade garden back to the main plant and shop area, I caught the sun on a large pot.
As this was approaching Christmas, it occurred to me that if one was searching for an extraordinary gift for a special gardener, one of these Halls English greenhouses would surely make a lasting impression!

But the stars of Russell Nursery right now are all the seasonal items, starting of course with trees, such as Douglas fir, Grand fir and some pines, sourced in Mill Bay and Duncan here on the Island.

The area normally filled with flowering trees is now chock-full of these cut evergreen trees, ready for decorating.

Christmas planters and centerpieces are made on-site using local plants.

Or you can design your own arrangements using Russell Nursery’s design elements.



I made my way to the garden shop where I knew the wood-burning stove would cheerily welcome me.

The garden shop is the business end of things where payment is made for purchases.  Brian Russell and his wife, Michele, have owned and operated the nursery for 25 years and are easing into retirement in January, 2018 as they sold the nursery to two of their senior staff, Susan Tice and Laurel Rassenti.
We’ll still be able to catch Brian on site in the coming months, as he’s remaining to help with a smooth transition to the new ownership.

Not only are Susan and Laurel the new owners, but they have decades of experience and this translates to the entire staff being educated regarding the plants and merchandise they sell.

Laurel pointed out to me the acid-etched steel art created by Roz Stanton from Pemberton, BC.

Unique gardening books are offered.

Laurel and I both commented on the Rustic Woodcrafts birdhouses (below, left) which are created less than two km from Russell Nursery.
Also offered is the Pender Botanicals line of soaps, cremes, balms and candles (above, right, and below) made on neighbouring Pender Island.

Susan and her staff offer a number of classes where participants can make their own holiday wreath or centrepiece.  Workshops are held next to the shop and all supplies are provided.

Having no personal experience with this, a friend and I took the wreath-making workshop, and these are the wreaths I made in 2016 (left) and 2017.

I think I’m getting the hang of it!

Russell Nursery
1370 Wain Road, North Saanich     
Closed Dec 23rd through Jan 31st

Art in the Barn Gallery

“Great art picks up where Nature ends.”  — Marc Chagall

Tucked onto a natural, forested acreage just off West Saanich Road is a most unusual barn.
No question, it’s a barn;  inside, you can see the concrete curbs on each side of the main aisle which formed the footings for the horse stalls.  The floors slope toward this middle aisle — that was a functional slope.

What is unusual is the contents.
This former barn now houses horses differently – horses painted on canvas.

It also houses other animals, painted on canvasses…………..

………because, as no doubt is apparent,
this is a barn converted into a gallery.

The proprietors are Jacqui and Gabriel.

Jacqui is a painter, and all the paintings
featured in this post are hers.

In addition to her own resource material,
Jacqui also paints animals by commission,
such as the two portraits of dogs, above.

Gabriel is a photographer.
Several of his matted and framed photographs are exhibited in the gallery.

Nature figures strongly as a resource in
Gabriel’s photographic work.

Other local artists’ work is also welcome to be exhibited in the gallery.

The art pieces, above and below, are examples of Gabriel’s photographs taken in nature.

Linda tried to gauge the size of this creation by Jacqui.
The art piece depicts a sight that’s so typical of our Peninsula outside Victoria.  It is this aspect of nature that Jacqui continues to capture in her paintings.

Gabriel also spends hours to get the “perfect” shot of a specific aspect of nature that he wants to share.
He also photographs “found” items!

Matted prints of Jacqui’s paintings and Gabriel’s photography work are available unframed as well.


The painting above, right, is one by Jacqui of Gabriel.

Art in a Barn is a true gem………local artists creating, displaying, and making available to others the personal creations of Nature that they want to share.    Check it out!


Art in the Barn Gallery
4578 Hughes Road


Thur – Sun 10 – 4  or by appointment












Olive the Senses

“The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven.  I can scarcely expect bread.”  — Thomas Jefferson

Browsing through the shops, colourful wares and beckoning aromas of the Victoria Public Market on Douglas Street in downtown Victoria, we came upon Olive the Senses.

This unique shop is dedicated to items that enhance the tastes and aromas of our food, such as herbs and seasonings and especially olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And we couldn’t believe the variations of these items!


High quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is on offer, but the eye-widening variety of fused and infused olive oils are what made us feel like kids in a candy store.

Aged balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy are presented as dark balsamic, white balsamic or specialty flavoured balsamic vinegars.

Okay, this is actually better than a candy store — you get to sample the olive oils and the balsamic vinegars!
And oh, the flavours we sampled!
Olive oils infused with wild mushroom & sage, herbs de Provence, wild dill, garlic, chipotle, for example, or olive oil fused with Persian lime or blood orange had to be sampled.
Balsamic vinegars fermented with Madagascar vanilla, pomegranate, honey ginger, jalapeno, maple, chocolate, cinnamon…. … was almost exhausting!

The tasting room is set up so that these oils and balsamic vinegars can be tasted, either with the guidance of a knowledgeable staff member or by yourself — and you can arrange a private tasting party with a group.

The shop also offers spices, coffees, teas, jams and spreads, barbecue sauces, chocolate, mustards and other condiments, and unique kitchenware items.


The owners of Olive the Senses have family that still lives and             farms in Italy.

Photographs of their family and landscapes in Italy are proudly         on display in the shop.

Gift baskets can be ordered.

Delivery is free north to Sidney and west to Sooke.


We left with our purchases in hand and our heads and senses filled with the unique tastes we had experienced.

My new go-to oil has become the Tuscan herb olive oil.  And I had to rearrange my cupboard to accommodate the                           growing number of flavoured olive oils and balsamic vinegars that seem to come home with me on every visit here.

Go with a friend or a group, or visit the store on your own so you’re limited only by your own time and palate capabilities.
It really IS better than a candy store!

Olive the Senses
Victoria Public Market at the Hudson
9-1701 Douglas St. Victoria, BC

Tue – Sat 10 am – 5 pm, Sun 11 am – 5 pm

Fan Tan Gallery

“I like to look for gifts throughout the year.  If I find the perfect item for someone, I put it in my “gift closet” and keep it for the next holiday.  But I often get too excited and just give it to them before!”  — Christina Hendricks

Sooo……..I’m not the only one with a “gift closet”!

Linda appreciates beautiful things, and she’s also practical.   When we casually browsed through Fan Tan Gallery and Linda spotted the Linnea display, she gave that an approving nod.
For each month the calendar features a beautiful 11″ X 14″ art print suitable for framing or mounting to any flat surface. Beautiful and practical!

I bought one to keep for her as a Christmas gift. But you know that it didn’t make it to December!
Fortunately, her birthday came up before December so the Linnea calendar was out!
The calendar is not by any means the sole draw at the Fan Tan Gallery, also known as Fan Tan Home & Style.

The shop, with its double storefront presence on downtown Fisgard offers a wide variety of wares made locally in BC, in Canada, and carefully sourced internationally by the owner, Janet, ranging from the USA and Europe to India and Afghanistan.
There are the Cedar Mountain marble coasters and art blocks from Salt Spring Island,   fan-tan-gallery-13
artisanal small batch foods and dishes also made on Saltspring Island and elsewhere in Canada,
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candles and room atomizers made in the USA,
socks hand-knitted in Afghanistan from wool and lined with a thin, soft fleece,

personal bath and toiletry products sourced in Italy, in France,
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more from France,
            and more from France,

quilts from India made in the Kantha style,fan-tan-gallery-24

more quilts with their exuberant colours,
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wooden blocks from India which are used for printing their fabric,

fabric printed using various wooden blocks,
more samples of block-printed fabric, scarves,
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.              and

Of course, right now there are displays of seasonal items…………..some rustic,

some glitzier.
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For gift-giving anytime — or for myself! — there’s a good selection of Blue Q socks,

games and puzzles,
          tin cups,

pretty ring holders,

and tidy, tiny plants.

Sure, come to the Fan Tan Gallery  for the beautiful Linnea calendar, but you’ll surely leave with
at least one other unique item — I promise!

Fan Tan Gallery
541 Fisgard St
250- 382-4424

Mon – Sat 9:30 – 5:30, Sun 11:30 – 5

Patio Gardens

“Earth laughs in flowers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, in search of Earth’s laughter, we visited Patio Gardens on West Saanich Road and we found it in spades!
The vibrant colours of flowers and greenery can uplift any spirits, particularly as daylight hours shrink.

patio-gardens13The owner, Yvonne, has been gardening for more than a couple of decades.  In earlier days the business was mostly cut flowers.  Now the specialty is hanging baskets and container gardening, suitable for patios and decks, indoor containers and anywhere you’d want to have live greenery or a garden feature.
And in our moderate west coast climate, water garden features can run year-round!patio-gardens15                   patio-gardens1

Patio Gardens features Christmas plantings right now, so there are lots of poinsettias and greenery. patio-gardens14In a spacious classroom setting, floral and gardening workshops are offered, and wreath-making is a popular one right now.patio-gardens4


The store offers plenty of decorating and gift ideas as well.
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It’s a delight to visit Patio Gardens during this cheerful Christmas season.
And I can only imagine how Patio Gardens will remake itself in the springtime!


Patio Gardens
6536 West Saanich Road, Victoria

Mon – Sat  9 – 5:30 pm,  Sun & holidays 10 – 4 pm


“those of us who read because we love it more than anything, who feel about bookstores the way some people feel about jewelers…”
Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life
I love bookstores; always have and always will unless robots or androids are behind the counter. A bookstore says to me that I am home, that I am in a safe place.  And that is how I feel when I enter Tanner’s. Tanner’s is a friendly bookstore. The staff are welcoming, the aisles are wide, the sections clearly marked and the books are a mere arms length away.
And the magazines…. I am amazed at the selection this independent bookstore carries.
Are you interested in Cooking, Chocolate, Art, Journaling, Finance, Writing, Wildlife, Model
railroad, Cycle, Boats, Model airplane, Motorcycle,
Men’s Health, Outdoor life, Golf, Skiing, Running, Yoga, Pilates, Knitting, Sewing, Travels, Cars, Home Decor, Tiger Beat,
International Magazines….I buy Maison Chic and The English Home magazine….and would love to buy more. Can one have too many magazines??
plus  Newspapers from Great Britain
a Travel & Nautical Section with great maps, charts and books.
and a Children’s Section which is well stocked with books and games.
Tanner’s stocks Tintin!
Tanners also has an extensive collection of greeting cards, calendars, games- Suduko and puzzles.
and meet the owner of Tanner’s Books …. Cliff.
Thank you for a marvelous bookstore and a friendly and helpful staff!
I adore this statue outside of Tanners.
Tanner’s Books
2436 Beacon Ave.
Sidney, BC
Sun-Sat 8:00am-9:00pm

LaLoca, Sidney

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”  —  Jane Goodall

Outside LaLoca

Walking into LaLoca in Sidney is like entering the market-of-the-world!

Tapestry, cards @ LaLoca

Christine, the owner, has travelled extensively throughout South America and sources her own products.
All items offered for sale at LaLoca are purchased as part of a fair trade partnership with individual women and artisans around the world.  Christine is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, which signifies that producers are treated with respect and paid fair wages, development is fostered and environmental standards are adhered to.

Handmade sweater, LaLocaThese darling handknitted sweaters are made by women in Peru, using their own harvested alpaca wool.

Metal wall art, LaLocaSubstantial pieces of metal wall art are made in Haiti.

Handmade baskets, LaLoca These handmade baskets are from Guana.

       Felted wool animals, LaLocaHand-felted wool birds are made in Peru.

            More recently Christine also began sourcing items from India and Africa.

Handmade bags, LaLocaThese totes are made of hand-felted wool with embellishments in Nepal.

Neckpiece, LaLoca
Edgy jewellery like this neckpice is crafted by Zambian artisans in the South Luangwa using organic materials originating from the African bush.

Frog guitarists, LaLoca
Colourful frog guitarists are made from recycled tin cans in South Africa.

Clothing, LaLoca
here’s men’s, women’s and unisex clothing from Nepal as well as from Thailand.

Wall hooks, LaLoca
n assortment of colorful wall hooks comes from India.

Kisii stone
The K
isii stone carvings from Kenya are ultra-smooth and beg to be touched.

Mouse slippers, LaLocaThese adorable mouse slippers come in all sizes and various colours.  This pair was my specific choice as a gift for a family member.  The hand felted alpaca wool slippers are made in Nepal.

Banners, LaLoca               Handmade wall tapestry, LaLoca

Banners with quotable messages are from Indonesia.
Of all the striking, colourful items on display everywhere, my personal favourites were the stunning wall tapestries are handmade in Bolivia.

What a  treasure trove from all over the globe!  A true gem.
2367 Beacon Ave, Sidney

Tue – Sat 10:30 am – 5 pm


Butter Baked Goods Gourmet Marshmallows

“Money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy marshmallows, which are kinda the same thing.”

On the urgent suggestion of a friend, (What!!! you have never had Butter Marshmallows… Oh…I couldn’t stop eating them…good to the last one!) Lil and I hurried over to Dig This on 3rd Street, Sidney, BC to purchase a package of Butter Baked Goods Gourmet Marshmallows.

IMG_5664As you can see they would make wonderful hostess gifts, stocking stuffers or ‘I was thinking of you’ gifts.

Dig This carries 3 flavours (there are currently 18 flavours) and I chose the Toasted Coconut. It was delicious! Good bye store bought marshmallows, hello Butter Marshmallows!



Butter Baked Goods Cafe is a neighbourhood bakery in Vancouver, BC. Rosie Daykin’s (owner and baker) vision is to bake and sell “…yummy baked goods you remember from your childhood, made from scratch every day using only the best ingredients in everything produced.” The gourmet marshmallows put her bakery ‘on the map’.


found at
Dig This
9813 3rd Street
Sidney, BC
M-Sat 10-5:30
Sun 12-4

The Old Attic, Saanichton

“Our culture’s obsession with vintage objects has rendered us unable to separate history from nostalgia. People want heart. They want a chaser of emotion with their aesthetics.”  —  Sloane Crosley

The Old Attic, Saanichton                

Maybe it’s my age, but as we browsed through The Old Attic in Saanichton, I experienced a significant chaser of emotion, looking at so many items from various time periods of my own life.

The owner, Lynne Parker, had so many anecdotes about items, and clearly she knows each one individually.  She’s constantly bringing in items to replace sold pieces, always searching for good quality pieces to supplement her collections.

“Past to present” is their tagline, and the pieces reflect the various periods.    There’s furniture, linen, decor, jewellery, books & records, games, lamps and artwork, and all items are in very good condition.


In addition to selling quality vintage items, The Old Attic also offers classes in refinishing furniture.
They sell Cottage Paints which you can take with you or use in their shop to work on a project.


A unique collection of vintage tools caught my eye, reminding me of my Grampa’s workbench.
And then in another area, I spotted this most unusual rocking chair with a leather seat inset.


But the items that made my eyes open widest were all the copper pieces, from various periods.
It’s really like a museum, ever-changing in its offerings — plus you can take your favourites home!


The Old Attic
7925 E Saanich Rd, Saanichton
Sun – Sat 10 am – 5 pm


frilly lilly Beauty Salon

“Every once in a while, a girl has to indulge herself.”  — Sarah Jessica Parker

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Attracted as I am by pretty objects in the window, I entered frilly lilly on a whim and was surprised to see that it’s in fact a beauty salon.  The friendly manager advised that they specialize in waxing, manicures and pedicures.   I shall return another day with an appointment for their services.

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But, back to the pretty things………………frilly lilly offers a full line of body care products, plus fragrances, candles and gift packs.  What attracted my eye this day was the jewellery and accessories.

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Also offered — the first retailer in Canada to do so — are the Putchipuu bags, each one uniquely hand-woven by women of the Wayuu tribe in Columbia.  By producing items such as these and selling them through fair-trade resellers, the Wayuu community is able to to provide jobs, education, sanitation in water and living areas.

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Since this is the “cold” season in Victoria, I need ear covers at times.  So I simply couldn’t pass up this headband with its blingy embellishment.  Beauty and function in one piece!

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frilly lilly Beauty Salon
811 Fort Street, Victoria

Mon, Wed, Fri 10 am – 6 pm, Tue & Thur 10 am – 8 pm, Sat 10 am – 5 pm.