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Pink Trees and Cherry Tea!

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Happy Spring,

Dear Friends!

Today, I am steeping one of my favourite teas – Kyoto Cherry Rose scented with natural cherry and rose flavours.  It is pale yellow in colour with a heavenly aroma and sweet taste.

Would you like a cuppa in my prized vintage China pattern? “Apple Blossom” is a stunning profusion of pink-petaled apple trees.  I LOVE this pattern!  I found it when I wasn’t looking at a roadside antiques barn while vacationing on Prince Edward Island a few summers ago! It was such a thrilling and unexpected find. Isn’t that always the way! I think I must have danced right out the door with my newspaper-wrapped bundles of joy! I hope one day to stumble across a matching teapot to complete the set.  I will just have to keep on treasure hunting…

I LOVE this pattern’s history in that it was insightfully commissioned in the early 1960’s by the Chair of Nova Scotia’s Apple Blossom Festival, then in just its second year. This enduring pattern is an artist’s rendition of springtime in Annapolis Valley when the apple blossoms are exploding all over the countryside. All these years later, the festival remains a much-loved annual tradition there.

I LOVE, too, pink-flowering trees! But you probably could have guessed that already? Each spring, I make a special pilgrimage to a particular street in the heart of our city that is lined with gracious century-old homes on handsome, mature lots.  One home on the street stands out from the rest.  Along its perimeter marches a legion of stately Japanese Cherry trees.  Their entangled branches, thickly laden with exquisite fluffy pink blooms, reach way out over the hefty black fence that rings the property, and bend down to the street like low-hanging frothy clouds of cotton candy!  Delicious, pure pink abundance!  My feet and heart always dance together at the sight.  It makes my day every time!

P1070224Wherever these frothy pink specimens grow in abundance, there is an intense ‘Bloom Watch’ and visitors queue by the hundreds to see the magic of the cherry trees unfurl in a fleeting spectacular show of renewal. Their pink vapour of nature’s perfection fill the landscapes with intense beauty, wonderment and emotion.

To the Japanese, the fallen petals of the cherry blossom symbolize a soldier who has died in battle long before his time. But Spring blooms also represent strength, rebirth and hope for the future…

Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow!” She was so right about that. To plant pink trees is to beautify our communities and to help grow a future without breast cancer…I believe! The seeds of Pink Days In Bloom’s “The Pink Tree Project” in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region are just beginning to be sowed…

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time already may know that I am a breast cancer “Thriver” and that when I was on medical leave a few years ago recovering from treatments, I decided to combine my love of gardening with the overwhelming need to do something, anything, to help fight this disease in some way…

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0001GpHere are several links to some of the articles about Pink Days In Bloom in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region that appeared in our local newspaper last year. It’s a bit of a story and I think these next few articles probably best summarize how the seed was first planted and how it has continued to grow and flourish with the support of an amazing group of like-minded, dedicated volunteers and a caring business community:
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PHOTO:  Pink Days In Bloom’s Signature Garden Faeries ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’ with O’Brien’s Boat Tours‘ mermaid mascot, Miss Shell, during ‘Pink Days In Bloom On the Sea!’ in the Town of Bay Bulls last summer…
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The Empress Hotel’s world- famous Tea Lobby is a glorious place to enjoy a spot of tea!  You can see some photos of this grand lady in my previous post, THE ELEGANT EMPRESS.
During “Pink Tree Day in the Park” and “Tea Sea-to-Sea” on June 8, at the same hour that we will be planting a pink-flowering tree in Bowring Park, one of our city’s most cherished parks, here St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada’s East Coast, our dear friends at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia on the Country’s West Coast will also plant a pink “sister” tree on their hotel grounds.
And, while we are celebrating and FUNdRaising over tea and champagne at The Bungalow, The Empress team will host a Pink Days In Bloom Tea of their own and “Sip in Support”. Isn’t that AWESOME!  
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On June 8th, you, too, can pick up your cup in support, whether on your iPad, in the office, at the kitchen table, by the pool or wherever you happen to be via a Virtual Tea!  I would love it if you could join us. Simply brew your favourite cuppa and click:  cbcf.org/GetInvolved/Donate.  Ask your family, friends and co-workers to join in, too. It’s that easy!
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For TWITTER LOVERS:  On June 8th, Tweet about your tea experience at #PinkDaysInBloom and your Tweets can be seen by guests of The Empress on a screen near their world-famous Tea Lobby, bringing us all even closer together in ‘growing’ a future without breast cancer!
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I am so excited about this next beautiful event! THANK YOU to our dear friends at The Empress for sharing in the cause! Please show them your LOVE! ‘Like’ The Empress on Facebook. Or, visit them at Fairmont.com/Empress-Victoria to discover their fabulous get-away packages and legendary afternoon teas…If you haven’t visited The Empress and Victoria yet, it’s a must to add to your bucket list!
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Read all about this exciting and meaningful event below! I hope it will help explain why I have been away from my blog these past few months!
I have met so many beautiful people on this journey. Thank you Proven Winners for the ‘Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea’ – a tough plant that is working hard to find a cure, to all the committed volunteers and amazing supporters.  Without you, it would not be possible.  It means so very much to me and so many others. XO  I hope you will join us wherever you are on June 8th for pink trees and cherry tea and for HOPE, AWARENESS AND SUPPORT!
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I hope you enjoy the photos of pretty china and the pink tree cookies made by my sweet friend Maria of Petite Sweet! Thank you so much for taking precious time out of your day to visit with me. Please leave your beautiful footprint to let me know that yo were here, and so I can visit you in return!  XO
Wishing you a beautiful day and Happy Mother’s Day weekend,

Linda

 Please ‘Like’ Pink Days In Bloom on Facebook.

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P1070144P1070147P1070151P1070163P1070153A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water. – Ancient Chinese proverb

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Hope yours is a blue-sky kind of day…

I’m happy to be sharing today in honour of Mother’s Day at Inspiration Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, Return to LovelinessMartha’s Favourite, The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Do Tell Tuesday, What’s It Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Wake UpWednesdayWhat We Accomplished Wednesday, Before and After WednesdayHope in Every SeasonCottage Style Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Simple and Sweet FridayFeathered Nest Friday,  Show and Tell Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Shabbilicious Friday, Saturday Show OffWhat To Do WeekendsPink SaturdayThe Charm of Home, Bouquet of Talent!

The Elegant Empress

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Welcome, Dear Friends!

I am thankful you are here on this wintry day and I hope that your week went well.  Isn’t it hard to believe that February is here! What a hectic month January was.  I am relieved to finally be able to make time to cocoon a little with some of my most favourite magazines.

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Isn’t “Victoria” absolutely stunning? It is an all-time favourite  of mine published by Hoffman Media.  I have every issue since it was first published in the eighties and am thrilled to my toes that a humble little story of mine will be featured in the Chimes section of their March/April issue!!! Can you believe that?!!!  It is beyond a dream come true for me!!! Thank you, “Victoria!” I can’t wait…

I just read Tea Time Magazine , another favourite and also published by Hoffman Media.  Tea Time will be hosting “An Occasion for Tea” at The Empress in Victoria, B.C. next weekend!  Don’t you wish you could join in the fun!

While the kettle is on, would you like to join me in a little armchair travel?  For those of you who follow my blog, you might recall I mentioned in an earlier post (Majestic Hatley Park) that my husband and I had travelled across the country from Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast to beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia on the west coast a couple of years ago where  I attended a work conference at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel. For years, I had been reading about Afternoon Tea at The Empress and was excited to finally have the opportunity to experience it for myself!

Located in downtown Victoria, “The Empress”, as she is affectionately called, overlooks picturesque Victoria Inner Harbour.  The Empress is the best known landmark in the capital city and has hosted kings and queens, dignitaries and famous persons.  The likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Katherine Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Barbara Streisand, to name a few, have all stayed at ‘The Elegant Empress’.

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Just steps outside the hotel lobby you’ll find whale watching, gardens, castles and sight-seeing tours, shops, boutiques and restaurants, the Royal  BC Museum, provincial legislative buildings and National Geographic IMAX Theatre.  Within a short walk, you’ll discover Chinatown and Antique Row. The BC Ferries terminal is a 45-minute drive from downtown and a 35-minute ferry ride will take you to glorious Salt Spring Island. Go there on a Saturday for the artisan markets.

IMG_3189On the afternoon of our arrival in Victoria, there were crowds of people milling about under huge white tents on the hotel’s front lawn.  We were zealously informed by our cab driver that it was rumoured that composer/star-maker David Foster was hosting a benefit dinner at $10,000 a place. Pittance!  Lol

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PHOTO:  Looking  from the harbour side toward The Empress, there are vendor tables, ferry tours, foods for every taste, buskers, recreational activities – it’s all here, mere steps from the hotel in downtown Victoria.

After a 14-hour plane-haul from the opposite side of the country to finally arrive at our destination, I felt terribly dishevelled.  As we walked into the hotel lobby with our luggage in tow, we were met by a sea of women in the most glamourous ball gowns and eye-catching jewels that I had ever seen! Dolls in diamonds, curls and heels.  Suffering from lack of sleep,  jet lag and feeling a little dizzy from dehydration, for one fleeting moment I thought that they could have been mermaids straight from the harbour outside!  A mirage of sheer glamour. In the following hours and days during our stay, we heard the names of many stars who were reportedly staying at the hotel.  A few of my colleagues who were also attending the conference at the hotel, caught glimpses of famous stars here and there (I could tell a story or two).  But the biggest star in my mind was ‘The Elegant Empress’ herself! She Em-pressed me most. 🙂

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Photo:  Victoria Inner Harbour is just steps across the street from The Empress.

DID YOU KNOW?  The ceremony of Afternoon Tea at The Empress is over a century-old tradition and her Tea lobby is world famous.  Reportedly, in summer at the height of the tourist season, The Empress serves Afternoon Tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England! Can you imagine! That is Em-pressive, don’t you think! 🙂

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DID YOU KNOW?  The Empress had been owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway long before it was sold to Fairmont.  Back in ‘the day’, CPR was building hotels for customers who travelled its railway and ships. Through the years, during and following two world wars, there were business booms and slumps.  In the mid-1960’s, The Empress was being considered for demolition. After much public outcry, the decision was made not to tear down the deteriorating old hotel but to give it a cosmetic facelift. Later in 1989, it was “done right” and the iconic building was restored in a major way to its original splendour. Thankfully, for The Empress = Victoria as surely as Big Ben = London, the Eiffel Tower = Paris, or the Statue of Liberty = New York City. The big refurbishment was dubbed “Operation Teacup!”  Let’s go into the Tea Lobby and see how ‘they’ did, shall we?

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Royalty and ordinary folk alike have enjoyed the time-honoured tradition of Afternoon Tea in the famous Tea Lobby. Art and architecture.  Deep and comfy chairs and luxe upholstery fabrics.  Fancy-carved tables and vintage tea carts. Antique tapestries and patterned wool rugs. Breathtaking views, exquisite tea and silver tea sets.  Live piano music. Good company and lively conversation… All combine to create a memorable tea experience one soon won’t forget.

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IMG_2689On the tea menu are signature Empress scones, pastries, sweets and savouries expertly and freshly prepared in-house each day.  I wish I had gotten a photo of the carts and delectable desserts piled high on hundreds of multi-tiered trays but I was sheepish about snapping pictures of the food… Lol

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“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea”
― Henry James

IMG_2688PHOTO:  Waiting for tea to be served in a silver service and regal blue-and-red-and-gold William Edwards fine china…  William Edwards has been commissioned to create patterns for His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Royal Household.  If it’s good enough for the Royals, then it’s good enough for moi!  Click here for an extensive Afternoon Tea Menu

DID YOU KNOW? The Empress has her own delicious blend of tea, touted as one of the world’s finest and I surely believe it! What an absolutely gorgeous, tasty, subtle cuppa!  After having umpteen delicious cups, I had to ask one of our servers what that blend was!  I was thrilled to learn that it was specially created for Afternoon Tea at The Empress and that it could be purchased at the hotel’s gift shop, where following Tea, I went straight away!  In the hotel’s signature Tea Shoppe, I loaded up on the pretty canisters of tea along with some teaware stamped with ‘The Empress’ to tuck into my suitcase for the trip home and so I could ‘relive’ the experience whenever I wanted .

Here are the blend ingredients as written on the tea canister:  Top seasonal quality tea from Kenya, South India, Assam, Sri Lanka and China.  Here’s what it looks like in the cup. YUM!  No cream or sugar needed…

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The bottom of the canister reads:  “Since its opening on January 20, 1908, The Empress has respected one of Victoria’s greatest traditions by serving Afternoon Tea in the magnificent lobby of the hotel. Sitting under a portrait of Queen Mary in front of the Tea Lobby’s two fireplaces, one can view Victoria’s Inner Harbour where the “Thermopylae”, fastest of all the Tea Clipper Ships, once anchored.”

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I am down to my last canister (apart from one that I am saving for a dear friend). Sigh. I am excited to know, though, that it can be ordered from the hotel shop or at http://www.fairmontstore.com.IMG_2493

PHOTO:  During  ‘Operation Teacup’, the Tiffany-style stained glass ceiling of the Palm Court was uncovered behind wood.  The beauty of the roof was thankfully restored and guests now can enjoy its sparkling light on the marble foyer at weddings and special functions.

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PHOTO:  Victoria’s Parliament buildings look beautiful at night from Fisherman’s Wharf. Their silhouette outlined in white lights creates a magical effect as the evening ‘blue hour’ approaches…

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PHOTO:  Captain James Cook (1728-1779) stands forever bronzed in confidence along Government Street as he looks upon The Empress with his back to Victoria Inner Harbour.

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The inscription at the base of the statue reads:

“After two historic voyages to the South Pacific, Cook was cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest on his third and final voyage with his two ships, Resolution and Discovery. He was searching for the Western exit to the legendary Northwest Passage. In March 1778, they put into Nootka Sound for repairs and to trade with the native people. With him on the voyage were Mr. William Bligh as Master of the Resolution and Midshipman George Vancouver.”

The Empress is synonymous with Victoria.  Many say “she” is the city’s heartbeat and speculate that The Empress is what brings people to the Island.  One thing is for certain, residents have an emotional attachment to The Empress.  For many, she holds special memories of their most celebrated occasions in life. Vancouver Island with its resplendent beauty and relaxed pace, yet vibrant energy, is an ideal place to escape. We loved it!

The photos below were taken of some of the “Bling” displayed in the windows of the gift shops at The Empress.

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The well-kept grounds of The Elegant Empress are captured below:

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To complement its special tea blend, The Empress serves its own blend of wildflower honey harvested from the Chef’s own apiaries on the grounds.

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Jewel-tone irises abound in well-maintained flower beds. These photos can’t do them justice.

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Azaelas and rhododendrum trees abound.

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The Empress’ resident marmot likes to hang about on the grounds and entertain visitors!

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EMPRESS TEA TRIVIA:
– Cream actually masks the flavor of tea, so milk is used instead.
– Amber Sugar crystals are also used, as they help to enhance the flavour of the tea, since it is an unprocessed form of sugar.
– All teas are loose, as the loose teas are the most flavorful.

It was fun ‘digging out’ these old photos and reminiscing…I hope you enjoyed your visit! Before you go, I’ll pour you up another tea in one of my prized cups – this one was given to me by my cousin Eva. It was shipped all the way from Virgina Beach in the United States to Newfoundland, Canada!  It is a souvenir cup of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Thank you, Eva!

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My friend Eric gifted me the glorious white china teapot with creamer and sugar bowl and half a dozen matching teacups!  I just adore it.  It sits on my kitchen counter and I use it every chance I get! My friend Maria created these beautiful and delicious snowflake cookies, perfect for snowy days! Thank you all! 🙂

Wishing you a beautiful new week ahead,

Linda

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I am happy to be joining the party at Inspirational Monday, Make it Pretty Monday, Tea Time at Rose Chintz CottageTea Time Tuesday and Friends Sharing Tea, Teacup TuesdayThe ScoopInspire Me Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday, WoW Us WednesdayWholehearted Wednesday, What’s It Wednesday, Blissful Whites Wednesday, Cottage Style Party, Time Travel Thursday, Thursday Favourite ThingsHome and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup ThursdayThe Homemaking PartySimple and Sweet Fridays, Fridays UnfoldedShow and Tell FridayFeathered Nest Friday, Anything Blue Friday,  The Charm of HomeFabulously Creative Friday, Frugal FridayShabbylicious Friday, Be Inspired, Tickled PinkWhat To Do WeekendsPink Saturday, Bouquet of TalentShow Off Saturday, One More Time SundaySeasonal Sundays and Oh The Places I’ve Been.

Majestic Hatley Park

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.  ~Hanna Rion

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Dear Friends,

Welcome! The teapot’s on!  I’m thrilled you’re visiting with me today.  It has been awhile.  I haven’t had much time for blogging lately. I find that for me, it does seem to take a lot of time, and there are so many other demands of life at the moment, but that’s for another day.  For now, I am glad to be here in the present, slowing a little and enjoying spending time with you.

Can it be that Spring is really just around the corner? We still have much snow, although it is beginning to warm here. To see sunshine and hear birdsong will make things alright. 

Since everyone is sharing garden dreams these days, I assembled a  photo collage to share with you of beautiful Hatley Park, a National Historic Site nestled on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island in Colford, a mere 25 minutes from downtown Victoria, British Columbia.  I was at The Empress Hotel in Victoria for a work conference last May and stayed an extra week to enjoy some touring. Living on Canada’s East Coast, on the island of Newfoundland in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I could not imagine flying clear across the country for 7 hours, plus 4 hours of stopovers each way, from the East Coast to the West Coast, without seeing some of the glorious B.C. gardens that I had been reading about in my favourite magazines for so many years.

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PHOTO: The celebrated Empress Hotel in Victoria on Vancouver Island is famous for its turn-of-the century architecture and supreme harbour location. Built between 1904 and 1908, The Empress is an icon in its own right and has been designated a National Historic Site.  Perhaps one of its most captivating features is the veil of ivy that covers the face of this old hotel.

My hubby joined me on the trip and we set out on the renowned Garden Trail to see as many gardens as possible in the brief time we were there.  Hatley Park was one of those magnificent gardens.  The gardens surround B.C.’s Royal Roads University.  The park grounds are open daily to the public for a modest fee but students of the University enjoy free access to the gardens.  Can you imagine a more inspiring setting in which to study?

It’s time for another walk in the park!  Won’t you come along?

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A footbridge within the quiet beauty of the Japanese garden leads us into a magical setting of perfect quietude.  I could have just stayed here for hours and not have ventured any further along the trail…(If you’d prefer a winter’s walk, take a side trip here in my home city).

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The 565 acres of gardens of Royal Roads University include a Japanese Garden (photos above), Rose Garden and Italian Garden (photos below).  The Italian garden is my favourite with frothy wisteria dripping over the garden’s ornate structures and entryways.

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I love the pretty statuary of the Italian garden and the glorious pink roses that scramble wildly upwards over the castle walls.  I do love pink!

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The castle is named Hatley Castle built by The Honourable James Dunsmuir who was a coal baron and prominent businessman in British Columbia in the late 1800’s.  He was elected Premier  in 1900. After just two short years, he realized that he had no desire for public life and resigned in 1902. In later years, he served as Lieutenant Governor of the province. In 1908, Dunsmuir built impressive Hatley Castle set amidst spectacular formal landscapes and embraced by B.C. forest and expansive Pacific Ocean views.

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Hatley Castle is now a classified Federal Heritage Building and is a popular site for weddings,  special events, conferences, even motion picture filming and the buzz of late – experiential travel.  Have you heard of it?  Experiential travel is based more on real-life experiences than star-rated amenities and popular tourist attractions.  Volunteering, immersing in cultural activities, trying new or exotic foods, even harvesting and cooking your own food – connecting with people where they live and experiencing everyday life – are what makes experiential travel so compelling and unique.

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What struck me most about Hatley Park is the abundance, diversity and significance of the trees, including 250-year old Douglas firs that are said to be among the largest in the area. We had never seen anything like them and were awestruck by their lush beauty and colossal size. I stood under the enormous cedars letting their branches sweep over my face!  I felt like a wee girl enchanted in a fairytale wonderland, dwarfed by their sheer  majesty.   

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A picture is worth a thousand words. An entire photo album follows; you can do the math! 🙂  I hope you will get a feel for the grandeur, tranquil  and reverent spirit of these winsome gardens.  And, won’t you have some Japanese Cherry tea while you’re browsing?  As you probably already know, it’s my favourite.  My niece Janell gave me these sweet china cups many years ago.  I love to sip from them while I dream of faraway places and their masterpiece gardens…

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Online tea source:  The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Thank you for taking time to stop by and for leaving such lovely comments.  I always look forward to hearing from you and am like a kid at Christmastime when I see your notes in my Inbox! Lol  You just make my day. I hope to see you again soon. EnJOY your garden dreams! And, since there is so much green in this post, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

 

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