Liz Stubbs wants to raise the roof — and few can marshal the troops better than this intrepid gardener, so she may just do it. The roof, of course, is the Filberg Heritage Lodge roof.
Stubbs, head of Filberg Park’s amazing cutting and herb garden, has organized the Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park 2011 annual plant sale, a much-anticipated event that, this year, brings together teams of volunteers and a variety of events to support the reroofing of the Lodge. With a passionate fervor characteristic of gardening folk, she personally phoned dozens of friends whose gardens she most admires to donate some prize perennials for the cause. They were only too happy to participate, enthusiastically contributing dozens of plants in labelled pots.The sale takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Arriving early for the best selection, Comox gardeners may drive their vehicles through the Filberg Road entrance to the Filberg Park dairy building and load up on perennials from some of the most outstanding gardens in the Comox Valley, including some from the Filberg gardens as well. Additionally, Stubbs marshalled the assistance of Leslie (Duchess of Dirt) Cox to supply two master gardeners from the horticultural club to be on hand to answer questions all gardeners have: “What is it? Where do I plant it? How big will it grow? Will the deer eat it? and Does it like shade or sun?”And, just in case you missed last weekend’s horticultural club’s plant sale, that organization has generously contributed the surplus plants to this fundraising event.After gardeners have loaded their treasures into their cars, everyone is invited to a lively demonstration by master shake-splitter Rainer Todson in the lodge courtyard at 1 p.m.With a lifetime of experience, Todson also has a passion — for old-growth cedar. He speaks eloquently about the advantages of cedar as a building and roofing product. Cedar, prized for its straight grain and uniform texture, has been used for centuries by Northwest Coast First Nations to build everything from cradles to canoes, longhouse to coffins.Old-growth cedar, Todson notes, splits evenly and cleanly, providing long, lightweight smooth and durable planks and shakes. The wood itself has unique properties; it has a high thermal insulation value due to its low density, is hygroscopic (absorbs or discharges moisture to attain equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere), resists warping and checking, dampens vibrations, and is free from pitch and resin.Western red cedar contains natural preservatives that resist moisture, decay and insect damage — a characteristic that increases the tree’s age, making the outer regions of the heartwood most durable. Following traditional methods, Todson has split all the new shakes for the lodge and outbuildings, using blocks of old-growth cedar from Vancouver Island’s West Coast forests. In his skilled hands, the pencil-grained blocks yield to the sharp taps of his froe, a steel cleaving tool with a handle at right angles to the blade.Uniform five-eighths of an inch slabs of cedar topple from the block like dominoes falling in a neat stack. For the lodge roof, Todson has split three-quarter-inch shakes.What is the advantage of using traditionally split shakes of old-growth cedar?Whereas most sawn or resawn shakes will need replacing in 30 to 35 years, the shakes that will roof the Filberg Lodge should last 55 to 60 years.“That fact contributes to the conservation and preservation of the Filberg Heritage Lodge,” says Filberg board member and project organizer, Dick Stubbs. “It’s fulfilling part of our duty to protect the legacy Mr. Filberg left us — a rare historical treasure in the heart of the Comox Valley.”As the old cedar shakes are shed, they will be broken and sold as kindling for $5 a box on the day of the plant sale. Visitors can make a day of it, taking in guest artist Joe Smith’s exhibition in the lodge, visiting David Bossom of Island Waterscape at the water feature by the main stage, and sampling a full menu of tasty treats at the Filberg Tea House.The Filberg Lodge Gift Shop, specializing in a continually rotating inventory of fine collectibles, will be open on the upper floor of the lodge. All proceeds of the event support the Filberg Heritage Lodge Roofing Project.