The Kitty Coleman Art and Bloom Festival, to be held May 21-23, is one of those great outdoor cultural events that has become a must attend for Valley residents and tourists alike.
“When we created the festival 14 years ago, we wanted to provide a venue for artists to showcase their work in an environment that would enhance their creations,” said Bryan Zimmerman, the garden’s owner.
At this year’s event, visitors to the festival will be delighted with the high calibre of work that will be on display. A walk along the pathways or a stroll over the lawns reveals a cornucopia of talent that is second to none.
From fine art to photography, pottery to fantastically turned wood, garden art to one-of-a-kind glass pieces and many more unique art forms are all nestled within the nearly 25 acres that at this time of the year with over 3,500 rhodos and hundreds of wildflower varieties in bloom, transforms the gardens into a riot of colour and texture.
Wildlife photographer Roy Hancliff will be making his fifth appearance at Art and Bloom this year, and is an example of the fine talent at the show.
The Oxford native and Qualicum Beach resident is known worldwide for his in-flight bird photography. He has been featured in publications globally and has worked closely with CWF (Canadian Wildlife Federation) for the last decade.
The Festival is also unlike any other because the artists are spread throughout the gardens so that visitors can experience both the gardens and the exhibits at their leisure.
“It really is the best of both worlds because as you travel from one exhibit to another you can literally stop and smell the flowers,” says Zimmerman.
This is not a show that visitors can just simply breeze through, because along with the beautiful setting and fabulous displays, visitors will also find musicians, artists in their own right, playing at different locations throughout the gardens… Jorge Alfaro on Andean flute, Brad Prevadoras on guitar, Anela Kahiamoe will perform on Monday and Tracy Canil on flute will be wandering the gardens.
Visitors however should come prepared to spend a little more time than they usually would at an outdoor event simply because there is so much to see. Some of the artists will be putting on demonstrations such as forging metal, working with clay or capturing the gardens on canvas. And of course there are the food concessions from hot Mexican to the comfort of a grilled cheese to specialty coffees, there is something to help give you a little more energy as you wind your way along the pathways.
Although there is lots of activity going on and with the grounds being so extensive, there are lots of places where you can sit, relax and perhaps daydream to the sound of water splashing into one of the many ponds or marvel at the man-made lake, complete with its own island and small beach.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens is located just 15 minutes north of Courtenay just off Highway 19A. The festival is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.
Admission is $10, with a $2 discount for seniors.
For more information about the gardens visit the website www.woodlandgardens.ca