Gardening Divas (from left) Eve Wemer. Carol Knott and Rosalind Hewson transformed a strip of dead and dying rhododendrons into garden plots bearing kale

Gardening Divas (from left) Eve Wemer. Carol Knott and Rosalind Hewson transformed a strip of dead and dying rhododendrons into garden plots bearing kale

Green thumbs inspiring others to grow on the Semiahmoo Peninsula

White Rock condo gardeners replace moribund landscaping with vital vegetable, herb and floral plots

Their green thumbs are getting a big thumbs-up from their neighbours.

Residents at a Marine Drive development on White Rock’s East Beach have enriched the local scene for themselves and others by turning a moribund strip of typical condo landscaping into a community garden mixing floral plants, herbs and vegetables.

And it’s an approach that could easily be imitated by other similar developments, said condo owner Rosalind Hewson, a  Washington State University-certified master-gardener who initiated the project with fellow retirees Carol Knott and Eve Weimer and another resident, Lindley Lieuw.

Together, they’ve turned the concrete-enclosed elevated strip, along a walkway at the back of their  Pacific Pointe Condos units bordering Maple Street, into a community-building statement of resourcefulness and pride.

In its second year at Pacific Pointe, the garden is an unqualified success with both residents and pedestrians in the neighborhood, Hewson said.

“Everybody in the condos are for it – there’s a long waiting list to be part of the garden,” she added.

“And people, as they come along, stop and chat and pick the peas and the sweet peas.”

But it was an uphill battle to get the garden established at first, the trio – proudly sporting ‘Gardening Diva’ aprons – said.

“Our first summer we had to struggle to get it approved by the strata board,” said Hewson, who added that the strip was previously occupied by “dead and dying rhododendrons.”

“There was some opposition – people had some concerns that we’d be planting fields of potatoes and corn and people did not want to look out on that.”

But a plan to combine ornamentals and edibles soon put fears to rest, and Hewson’s credentials lent credibility – as well as the fact that, as she said, the gardening partners are “all responsible people.”

“We polled all the people in the building,” Weimer noted, adding that while she was a neophyte at gardening her plot did okay – although she’ll rethink the placement of pumpkins for next year.

“We bribed (the other residents) that they could come and pick the tomatoes and strawberries and peas,” Hewson said, pointing out that Knott’s end plot has produced great crops of peas as well as kale and other edibles.

“What’s nice is to be able to run out and pull herbs and have them fresh,” Knott said.

And while residents have had the immediate benefit of the herbs and vegetables to use in their own salads and cooking recipes (“it’s all organic,” Knott said), there have been other spinoffs in terms of the environment and a general sense of well-being that contact with nature provides.

“We’ve noted that butterflies and bees have been coming around to the sweet peas, especially,” said Hewson.  “I’d think about keeping bees next year, although I don’t know anything about raising them.”

“There is a neighbour nearby who is raising bees,” Knott pointed out.

“We learn from each other and passersby,” Hewson said. “Everyone gets involved.”

The garden has also been a source of fascination – and participation – for children and grandchildren of some residents, who have an opportunity to learn first hand about gardening, they pointed out.

“It brings people together,” Weimer said. “It’s also very therapeutic. If I’m stressed I come out here and start gardening and the healing is immediate.”

In the final analysis, it was easy for the Pacific Pointe’s strata board to make the changes to rules and bylaws to enable a community garden to happen, and Hewson would encourage others to learn by their example – and from their experience in choosing and cultivating plants and crops for such limited spaces.

Hewson said she would welcome inquiries from others who would like to take this approach at their own condo developments.

She can be contacted for advice at 604-560-3501.


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

Just Posted

White Rock council say closure of the city’s pier, promenade and parking lots are not under consideration at this time, but have approved other COVID-19 options for the waterfront including stepped-up RCMP patrols that are already part of detachment planning. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock pier, promenade, parking lot closures off the table – for now

Council members warn decision subject to future provincial health orders

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Sterling Cunningham file photo)
White Rock officials question if tourism relief will come soon enough

For business, budget ‘feels more like a placeholder,’ says chamber head

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
South Surrey, White Rock MLAs call Tuesday’s provincial budget ‘disappointing’

MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Trevor Halford say residents are getting less for more

Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Epilepsy-defence driver found not guilty in crash that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

Canadian money (Black Press Media files)
Surrey, Burnaby residents to pay $141K for their part in U.S.-based Ponzi, pyramid scheme

B.C. Securities Commission says the two raised about US$15M from more than 1,400 investors

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2016. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
BREAKING: Sinixt, First Nation bordering Canada-U.S., can claim Indigenous rights, top court rules

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

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

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Firefighters carry equipment from the scene of Monday’s Willoughby fire. The April 19, 2021 blaze turned the Alexander Square development at the corner of 208th Street and 80th Avenue to rubble. (Rob Wilton/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley Fire: The aftermath of the inferno

The scene remains active as investigators work to determine a cause

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Most Read