Artisans displayed in woodland fantasy paradise

Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens provides a unique setting for an outdoor show such as this weekend's three-day, ninth annual Artisans' Festival.

THE FOUNTAINS OF Black Creek artist Douglas Walker will be only a small portion of the attractions at this weekend's Artisans' Festival at Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens.

THE FOUNTAINS OF Black Creek artist Douglas Walker will be only a small portion of the attractions at this weekend's Artisans' Festival at Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens.

Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens provides a unique setting for an outdoor show such as this weekend’s three-day, ninth annual Artisans’ Festival.

Located just off the Old Island Highway north of Courtenay, the 24-acre Gardens are a popular attraction and have won international acclaim.

This weekend’s festival runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6183 Whitaker Rd.

The festival is focused on presenting high-quality original works. Pottery, fine art, ceramics, carvings, furniture, weaving, jewelry, wrought iron and glass are just a few of the many works that are eligible for this juried show.

For example, Black Creek artist Douglas Walker is well known for creating unique water features and kinetic garden art sculptures using, among other things, discarded musical instruments, recycled copper, silver, brass and glass collectables.

His garden fountains and bird feeders are best described as whimsical, eclectic, humorous and certainly one-of-a-kind.

A master recycler, Walker blends and forms ordinary objects into finely-crafted garden sculptures.

WaterWorks Garden Sculptures can be found in collections thoughout Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe.

As a working artist, Walker is dedicated to producing work that will not only make a statement but demonstrate a timeless quality.

The setting for this weekend’s festival — as well as the Art in Bloom festival in the springtime — is Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens.

are an act of love, developed by one man in an effort to fulfill a dream to share with all.

Bryan Zimmerman’s Christmas Tree Farm and Santa’s Barn are well-known in the Comox Valley during the winter months.

Zimmerman always knew he lived in a beautiful spot, but it wasn’t until he began clearing out some of the thick brush on his 24 acres of forested land that he thought of a way to share it with others. Studying the interesting topography and unique layout gave him the idea for creating the woodland gardens.

Over the next two years, he began to build his wonderland dream, clearing the underbrush by hand to reveal a forest floor more beautiful than he had imagined.

Day by day, using his back and wheelbarrow, he laid over a mile of bark mulch paths meandering through the woods. Unwilling to disturb plant and tree root systems more than absolutely necessary or to use heavy equipment which would destroy the landscape, he dragged all brush and debris out manually.

The beauty of the gardens is that most of the forest’s natural finery has been left alone, embellished, but not overwhelmed by cultivation. The gardens are especially designed to showcase the most beautiful of all shrubs — the rhododendron.

Zimmerman has planted more than 3,000 rhododendrons of different varieties and sizes, as well as companion plants and cultivated trees, all blending into the breathtakingly beautiful natural surroundings.

To take a walk through this woodland garden gives one a feeling of peace and well-being.

In the upper area, Zimmerman has used the land contours to his advantage in the placing of several ponds. The serenity draws one to follow the soft cedar bark paths and the enticing trails that disappear into the woodlands.

Granite rocks from the valley mountains line the pathways. The filtered sunlight sparkling through the trees in an endless array of patterns lift your spirits. You inhale the sensual earthiness.

The placement of a rustic hand-built bench here and there adds charm, as well as providing the visitor with an opportunity to sit, meditate and listen to the birds.

In the background, Kitty Coleman Creek babbles fluidly on its winding way down to the Georgia Strait. A Polynesian-style gazebo built from tree poles provides a sheltered place to sit and ponder, watch the great blue heron fly overhead, observe birds at the feeders suspended around the gazebo, or even listen to sea lions barking from the mouth of the creek a few hundred yards away.

Licorice, deer, lady and sword ferns all proliferate, blending the wild with the cultivated. Looking closely, visitors will observe smaller natural flora such as sweet boxwood, broadleaf starflower, fawn lily, oregon grape, vanilla leaf and bleeding hearts on the forest floor.

In the lower, or hidden garden, woodland paths descend to travel along Kitty Coleman Creek, where a pair of wood ducks happily meander. The view of the creek through filtered light and overhanging trees is one that inspired a group of artists to ask permission to paint there.

Here, larger rhodos have been placed informally along the natural slope, giving the wanderer a surprising burst of colour. The idea is that anyone visiting will never see the same scenes twice.

Kitty Coleman Gardens are an evolving vision. Future plans include a natural Japanese garden, and a rhodo test garden.

• • •

Admission to the Artisans’ Festival is $8. For more information about the festival, visit www.woodlandgardens.ca or call 250-338-6901. The fax number is 250-338-6917.

To drive to the Kitty coleman Woodland Gardens, head north from Courtenay on Highway 19A, turn right on Coleman Road. left on Left Road and right onto Whitaker.

Visitor amenities include resting benches, gazebo, picnic area and tea room. Good walking shoes and comfortable clothing are recommended.

— Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The process of integrating Union Bay services into the regional district can now begin. Record file photo
Union Bay transfer to region targeted for July 2021

Three services will be rolled into Comox Valley Regional District

Mike Aldersey, the Port McNeill base manager for West Coast Helicopters has been awarded the prestigious Agar/Stringer Award by the Helicopter Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island pilot receives coveted helicopter industry award

Port McNeill based Mike Aldersey is the recipient of the 2o2o Agar/Stringer Award given out to select few Canadians

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Kitty Coleman Park

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

The School District 71 DPAC hosted an online forum for candidates hoping to fill a vacant board of education position. Screenshot, SD71 DPAC Facebook page
Six make their pitch to fill empty school board seat in Comox Valley

District’s parents advisory council hosted the online forum for Area C candidates

Many of the static aircraft displays are decorated in thousands of lights for almost the entire month of December at the airpark on Military Row in Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
VIDEO: Christmas lights on display at 19 Wing airpark

Per COVID-19 rules, viewing of the display is strongly encouraged by vehicle and not exiting the car

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Letter to the editor.
LETTER – Horgan’s election promise of COVID relief cash is money foolishly spent

Dear editor, Would you dip into your child’s registered education fund to… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreaks at pair of Vancouver Island Hospitals

Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni affected

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Most Read