TOM SPEAKS
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According to all my grade school report cards, I never stop speaking!

Here is where I rant/ share/ proselytize about whatever I think is
beautiful/ interesting/ semi-important....

SOUTHLANDS NURSERY
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Could it be that dreams do come true?
When artistic talent, sweat, business savvy and encyclopedic
plant knowledge are combined, it seems they do....

Southlands Nursery is a walk-in fantasy,
where beauty always comes before profit.

STORE INFO
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Established in 1991, and located in a charming 'equestrian pocket' on Vancouver's upscale
westside, this unique area called Southlands is a horse friendly enclave right in the city.
Large lots and small acreages house many stables, and it is not unusual to see horses and their
riders go by our gates. With delicious free coffee always on hand, many people tell us that they
come down to the nursery just to experience the beautiful atmosphere.
We hope you will visit soon!

TOM SPEAKS
Click on text to vist page
According to all my grade school report cards, I never stop speaking!

Here is where I rant/ share/ proselytize about whatever I think is
beautiful/ interesting/ semi-important....

JUST IN
Click on text to vist page
At Southlands Nursery, things are always changing,
and not just with the seasons. We're constantly creating,
searching and bringing in new plants and exciting items
on a regular basis.

Get a sneak peak here or come visit us soon.

FAVOURITES
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Visiting Vancouver?
Want to order flowers?

Check out this very personal list of some of Thomas Hobbs favourite
Vancouver shops and restaurants you may not otherwise discover.

DAYLILIES
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Thomas Hobbs own hybrids (and other fabulous varieties) are available in
limited numbers. Hybridizing daylilies has become an absolute obsession....
using cutting edge parent plants from the world's top breeders.

Half the fun is in naming them!

ORDERING
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We will never be a fully online shopping nursery, but from time to time
we'll offer special plants or things.Thomas Hobbs own daylily introductions
will be available for Spring or Fall shipping.

We hope to offer other specialties,
such as own own Nerine hybrids, this way, also.

BOOKS & PRESS
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The only thing I love more than gardening is sharing that passion with others.
I've had the pleasure of writing 2 books and have been featured in a number of professional
horticultural and gardening magazines. For the past 16 years I've also worked in television on
GlobalBC's Saturday morning news 'Gardening with Thomas Hobbs' segments. The nursery has
been featured on virtually every gardening show including 'The Victory Garden', 'Martha Stewart'
and 'Recreating Eden'. We were even home to 'The Orchid Nazi' on the hit TV show The X Files!

June 23, 2014

Stairway to Heaven

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 6:23 am

A steep slope of weeds and blackberries at my new garden has become a stone stairway of beauty ! It leads up to a revamped swimming pool. I chose to limit the colours to shades of blue and chartreuse green. The stones used for each step are rough and flat, but very thick . This looks (to me, anyway), very ‘English’, as seen in the Cotswolds.I liked these stones because of their whitish colour. So many of our local stones are black. I found them at our local stone yard, Adera Stone. It was quite funny, as it appeared they were priced at .99 cents per ton !  I said I would take them all (5 pallets). The salesperson agreed that was a great bargain….. then he  flicked a perfectly fallen (and perfectly circular) Katsura leaf off of the sign. They were $99.00 a ton. I still bought them. The stone staircase twists and turns a bit, to make the journey more interesting. One rough stone  = one step.
DSCN0238A  spectacular show being put on by Campanula ‘Waterfall’ contrasts with lime green dabs of Sedum ‘Angelina’. The David Austin rose ‘Tea Clipper’ is on the left. It has large ‘antique-looking’ double flowers in a gorgeous soft peach colour. It smells like tea!DSCN0225

This is a fantastic shrub rose, with a great perfume – nice on the way up to the revamped swimming pool at the top of the stairs! Just barely visible at the top is one of a pair of large wooden planters (from Restoration Hardware) containing a small Weeping Silver-Leaf Pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’). I cut about 6′ off the tops off of them when I bought them, and planted basically two foot stumps with roots ! These branched out immediately, and I created short little trees this way. These are hardy substitutes for Olive trees, which don’t make it through our winters. They add a Mediterranean touch to the large pool terrace and require very little care. I underplant them with the fabulous annual Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’. This forms a solid carpet of pure silver foliage that spills over and down the sides of my lovely planters.

DSCN0231Many of the plants I used were nursery rejects/orphans/leftovers. I never thought Delphiniums would work in my mostly flat plant scheme, but I now enjoy the vertical scrim effect they create.

DSCN0216The yellow daisy is a bit too yellow for my taste, but I originally planted it for its grey foliage. It is an Oregon native called Eriophyllum lanatum, and was a gift from Sean Hogan, Portland’s great nurseryman and owner of that city’s Cistus Nursery. I shave it of flowers as soon as it is finished blooming. Just above it in this photo are some stems of Romneya coulteri , the California Tree Poppy. This will become enormous and can ‘have’ this area, I hope. It produces great big white ‘poppies’ with showy yellow centres. The flowers are very fragrant and bloom on 6′ stalks in a big thicket when happy. Happiness for this plant means a HOT sunny slope. PERFECT ! Many people lose this plant and waste lots of money by not giving it what it evolved in…. a bit of California !

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Dianthus ‘Coconut Surprise’ is widely available and utterly charming. Not straggly at all, this perennial cutie is growing in almost pure gravel. I have given it a dose of liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer and voila ! It has also sprouted a few seedlings in the gravel path and they are almost the same, but charmingly single-flowered !

DSCN0226A Dianthus seedling is happy where nature put it- in the middle of the pathway. I will leave it here and tread around it, as I hope visitors will do….

Once up the stairs, there is a large stone patio area inside a pre-existing cedar hedge.  Sixty-five white hydrangeas form a simple border and soften the transition from the vertical to the horizontal. Six-foot wicker benches provide extra seating, and keep this area simple and ‘modern’.P1020355The pool was my dream of what a pool could be. All that was used from the previous, hideous pool that was there before is the 20′ x 40′ hole in the ground ! Now I just have to learn how to swim.

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June 17, 2014

Some enchanted evening……

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 6:26 am

Just the other day (mid-June), I arrived at our Langley farm after the 45 minute drive from the nursery in Vancouver. It was about 7:30 PM, and the light was softening as the sun was getting lower in the western sky. WOW ! The garden outside our fence looked fantastic. In only six years, it has knit together and offers lots of inspiration for foliage-driven planting. I never dreamt it would look so good.

DSCN1257  I rushed into the house, grabbed a camera and started clicking away. The magic moments of special light are fleeting, and you have to act fast. The star of this photo is Stipa gigantea, the amazing grass on the left. This scene stealer is about 10′ across, 6′ tall and thrives on neglect. It sits on a carpet of  ’lamb’s ear’, Stachys byzantina. This old-fashioned perennial is one of my most-used and favourite  ’garden tricks’ plants. It  looks great as a foil to something above or nearby. Berberis ‘Rose Glow’ is the purple shrub that I only recently started to appreciate. Very hardy and disease-free, this thorny beauty adds punch to the scene.

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I used the wonderful ‘Sally Holmes’ shrub rose repeatedly in this garden. I love its ‘country look’ , with single white flowers that have a mother-of-pearl finish on their petals. No fuss, just beauty. And wouldn’t you know it? This was the least popular rose we sold this year. Every other rose sold….and Sally sits there, in perfect bloom . Go figure.

Below is a photo of the entry garden in 2008. I was just starting to plant it, with Corona our wonderful dog supervising.

Farm April 08 and moving plants !! 006

June 10, 2014

Beauty Beauty Beauty, the IRIS are blooming !

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 6:08 am

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WOW –  Here are some of my Iris in bloom out at our farm in Langley, B.C.  I am completely besotted with them. As a lifelong lover of flowers, I think I have found my beauty overdose. The colours and shapes, the fragrance….. they are breathtaking!  In the background at the top left of this photo, you can see rows of seedlings from my own hybridizing last year. I cannot imagine how beautiful these babies will be.DSCN1221This is my favourite of them all. It is called ‘Just Crazy’, and it is incredible ! The colour is a ‘latte brown’, with 6″ flowers that are unlike any other. I got it, and most of my iris, from Mid-America Garden in Oregon. They ship to Canada. Look at  their website and you will collapse ! www.mid-americagarden.com .

DSCN1208DSCN1244DSCN1216The mysterious beauty below is called ‘Paris Fashion’ . It is a smoky grey with lavender blotched ‘falls’.  I can’t think of any other flower that comes in colours like this !DSCN1242

May 25, 2014

A house in the country….

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 7:14 pm

little house old in mud

old little house

Little house old

   This little house in Langley was to become our temporary home while we built a ‘big house’ elsewhere on the property. It is only 1200 square feet, but, as it turns out, that is plenty of room. Brent was our own architect.  Did he miss his calling ? All our renovation plans and his drawings etc were  approved .  Two years ago I created the garden/tableau setting around the house. My goal was a ‘French’ look , casual and low.  The first step was placement of the rocks and loads of soil. I envisioned a ‘Humps and Bumps’ look – as seen in French magazines and strongly influenced by  the late, great French  taste-maker Nicole de Vesian. Langley is very windy and I think colder in winter, so I hoped I had planted hardy plants. The largest globes are Salix purpurea ‘Canyon Blue’, the dwarf Arctic willow.  At the front are mounds of Hebe buxifolia, with assorted boxwoods, thymes,  Stachys lanata (Woolly Lamb’s Ear) and a self-sewn Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ on the left. We felt it was important NOT to use grey gravel – too dreary . Brent found this ‘Peach Shale’ in Alberta and it was easy to get it trucked here. It was still cheaper than paving!!

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May 21, 2014

Tour of Beauty

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 4:19 am

One of the greatest joys in all of gardening is the blooming of the Tree Peonies ! Mid-May seems to be peak season for these ephemeral scene-stealers, so don’t plan on any travel or you will miss them! Now that I have lots of space, I have indulged. I ordered several from Song Sparrow Nursery in the U.S. ( they ship to Canada) and am astonished by their beauty. Tree peonies can be inexpensive or expensive. So can wine, cheese or vacuum cleaners! There is a reason. The rarer ones are bound to cost more ($100.00 or so), but are soooo worth it. They are all grafted , and there is only so much material to propagate from. Rare means rare. The colours of these hybrids defy description.  Here’s some blooms I enjoyed this week out at our farm….. the beauty shown below is called ‘Ezra Pound’

 

DSCN1154A favourite variety of mine is the lovely ‘Nike’. I had a hunch that this would be my favourite, and planted it in a place of honour. This paid off, as it is bigger and has more flowers than any of the others. It s an incredible soft orange/salmon and has a lovely fragrance. I see it as I arrive and as I leave home. DSCN1139 What a colour !! ‘Nike’ is from Song Sparrow Nursery in the U.S. DSCN1144

‘Black Pirate’ is very dark red, even darker in real life. Its flowers hang and nod because they are huge and heavy with petals.
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IDSCN1150I brought this yellow tree peony with us when we moved to the country. It is about 15 years old, and is looking a bit woody/tree -like. Be sure not to prune tree peonies. They are supposed to form a small shrub of woody branches. Pruning hard will only cut off all your flower buds !!  This variety loves the light, dappled shade under some high fir trees.DSCN1171‘Tria’ is a lovely lemon yellow variety with a lovely fragrance. It likes lots of sun to bloom.

DSCN1161This big double yellow is called ‘Artemis’ and has lots of huge blooms on a small bush.

 

February 27, 2014

You CAN fight City Hall !!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 4:42 am

 

 

photoAbout four years ago, our hapless city council decided to close the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth park. I was furious ! So were thousands of other citizens …..and we simply refused to let it happen. Against all odds – we saved it !  Our leader was (and still is) John Coupar, who took this photo today (late Feb. 2014) ! The roof is being replaced, section by section. The same company that originally made the plexiglas ‘bubbles’ in 1968 is remaking them now. All the plants and birds are safe and happy, now we have to ‘rescue’ the awful gift shop in the lobby…..

January 13, 2014

Life, as we knew it……

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 12:00 am

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  Across the street from our nursery, January, 2014 . There is another FOR SALE sign at the top of hill, and one behind me when I took this photo.

The real estate market in Vancouver is truly insane. There cannot be another city, anywhere, with more people ‘cashing out’ and leaving their gardens behind. It is not a good thing, because nearly every transaction results in a massacre of not only the house, but the garden and every tree possible. It is unbelievable. Neil Young sang about ‘The needle and the damage done – every junkie’s like a setting sun’. Here, every FOR SALE sign is like a setting sun. Bye bye garden, bye bye customers. The new house will be sold and ‘landscaped’ , and very often left unoccupied. How? Why? Can you guess?  If you do not live in Vancouver, you probably cannot guess. It all comes to getting cash out of China. It is that simple. What were once ‘Marcus Welby M.D.’/'Donna Reed’ neighbourhoods are now terrifying strips of copper domes, glass blocks, etched glass and Tudor lanterns. Gated, paved, with security cameras and nobody home. Hundreds of millions of dollars have landed here. Trillions of dollars have left China. You would think this is a good thing; marvelous in fact . Maybe, if you are selling lighting fixtures. For the nursery industry, and horticulture in general in my area, it is an obliterating tsunami that pays it way. As an example, a friend of mine listed their modest house on a 66′ lot at an optimistic 1.9 million . In any other city, it would have been 300,000.00, but Vancouver is different. She had eight offers before the listing actually listed, and accepted 2.8 million, all cash , no subjects. There were two offers exactly like this.  Today, the house sits empty, the much-loved garden abandoned . Just like mine.

 Below : The new Vancouver look.  Note the chandelier ?

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December 28, 2013

Impressionism is Alive and Well at Our Farm

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 9:59 pm

Brent took these photos the other day, just before dusk. These are exactly as it was, no ‘photo shop’ – just an amazing foggy dream ! When there is less to see, you see way more……

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‘WITCHIE-POO PARK’ is an amazing part of our property. Wind-shattered elm trees create a haunting landscape….. a small stream gurgles at the bottom of the slope. You couldn’t pay me to go there at night. 

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A solitary Spruce tree decorates our main meadow. There is no way to tell in this picture, but this tree is at least seventy-five feet tall, and there is a six foot teak garden bench sitting under it…..barely visible in the fog.

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Brent finds it ‘cathartic’ to mow acres and acres of grass…. I love the smell ! The hills were already there, but ‘an artist with a caterpillar’, the late Ed Anderlini, sculpted and smoothed out acres of mess into this vision.

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Rolling hills are so important to create vistas and visions. Lucky,lucky.lucky!

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We used a peach-tan gravel for the driveway, and a split-rail fence guides the eye around the bend. I have planted a few scrambling vines on it at random spots. The purple-leaf grape (Vitus vinifera ‘Purpurea’) has always been one of my favourite plants and has room here to do its thing.

DSCN1029A very large Oak tree was probably planted by the original homesteaders at this farm. I added a grove of Katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in front of it. Some of these  new trees are more than twenty feet tall and were ‘pre-trained’ with a clear trunk. Others were never pruned and retain all their lower branches. These trees are renowned for their fall colour and the lovely scent  (which I cannot smell at all) of their dying leaves. Brent didn’t know about this feature, and wondered how our closest neighbour could be baking so many apple pies day after day !

December 20, 2013

Remembering 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 6:06 am

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This year was exceptional in many ways. In February, I got to be a guest judge at the Seattle (Northwest) Flower and Garden Show. The next day, Brent joined me on a trip to Middleburg, Virginia. Here I was a guest speaker , with my great Irish garden friend Helen Dillon, at a snazzy plant symposium. Middleburg is a charming, unspoilt stone village of tasteful saddlery shops and The American Dream come to life. Horses are the raison d’etre here, but gardening comes second. Some homes have their own private air strips.
Fabulous weather at home meant great plant growth and lots of bloom. My iris collection continues to blow my mind with colours I never dreamed existed. I feel an addiction in my already addicted veins bubbling wildy !
Our farm , now in year five, is starting to look  more established. We hosted a few huge garden tours this  past summer. The Hardy Plant Group(s) from Oregon,Washington and B.C. were very enthusiastic and excited to see our new garden.Dozens of cars parked on our front pasture (in the rain), and it looked like Woodstock! Many  of this group had been to our old garden/Spanish home in Vancouver over the years, and they loved roaming the 20 acre new project.  Next came the Perennial Plant Symposium and hundreds more plant crazy visitors. I spoke twice at this conference and chummed around with lots of old friends from all over North America. Then, the Pacific Daylily Convention dropped by. These people made the other groups look comatose !! They loved my daylily seedlings and I gave away some exciting seedlings to other daylily growers.
The nursery was crazy busy and fun as always. We heard all about people’s impatiens mysteriously dying, and could only sympathize as this is happening globally.We completely restored our 110 year old commercial greenhouse – something I thought would never happen. But, our local B.C. Greenhouse Builders did a fabulous job of using and matching the original parts to create a safe and more energy efficient structure. My history with B.C. Greenhouse Builders goes way back. They have known me since I was 15 years old. I somehow persuaded my mother to get me a ‘real greenhouse’ back in 1969. She could not afford it whatsoever, but Henry, the owner of the company (who I still know!) allowed her to make monthly payments. I think it was about 75.00 a month, for one year.Since then, I have had 16 greenhouses from them ! I own the record of having had the most greenhouses from them, period. Now the company is run by his charming sons . In the autumn, Brent and I went to England for a gardeny visit with friends.  It was fabulous, and a big relief for me to actually fly on a plane again. I became full of dread, not of crashing, but of screaming babies and loud,coughing,blabbering co-passengers. It turned out to be  an unfounded fear and we had a great trip there and back. Those beds make flying a lot nicer !
I think it has taken me five years to get over my reaction to the copper theft,squatters,white trash,midnight phone calls from the RCMP,trying to have a French Bulldog puppy,moving from our lovely Spanish home, and finding that a dream was waiting to come true after all !
Thank You, Welbutrin .

Thank You, Cipralex.

Thank You, Brent !

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October 26, 2013

An Autumn to Remember !

Filed under: Uncategorized — yodiehead @ 11:11 pm

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After our unusually dry summer ( 90 days in a row with not a drop of rain), the fall colours this year are the best I have ever seen. And, it has been quite dry lately as well, so the show is lasting   very well . Out at our farm in Langley, B.C., the 70 Acer rubrum trees I planted in 2008 are hitting their stride ! WOW – they are incredible all over the city and I am so glad I chose them for the  drive in to the property……The ‘split rail’  fence is made from recycled telephone poles, and the whole drive looks much better now with the under-grounding of all our hydro, cable and telephone wires now completed !

 

 

The spectacular weather means always keeping a camera nearby . Our three year old lake plays mind games at times…..

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