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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

What do you call a Bogey in golf?

A Humphrey of course! I’ve never heard this expression before. We were playing today with Curtis and Ken again, our newest golf buddies from Qualicum Beach Golf Course and we were on the 5th green when I made a bogey and Curtis turns to me and say “You made a Humphrey!” Hilarious!

Curtis in the foreground and Ken on the tee.

It was a bit chilly on the first tee this morning at 9:20am. The group in front of us had one brave soul wearing shorts!

What’s wrong with this picture? One guy in a toque and everyone else bundled up, yet this one guy is wearing shorts!

We left Fanny Bay at 8:19am to drive to Qualicum Beach and it was +1C. By the time we got down to Qualicum Beach it was +4C, but because it was windy, the breeze coming off the Strait of Georgia was making us quite cold. I couldn’t feel my fingers on the first hole. After the cold first hole, things quickly warmed up and we were very comfortable walking in the glorious sunshine!

Right after the 7th hole, I was able to take my jacket off as the temperature had gotten up to +7C.

The nice thing about golfing with locals is we are learning what are some of their favourite places to eat and shop! We found out about a couple of nice restaurant spots - a pizza spot in Parksville and a Thai food restaurant on the way to Port Alberni, just past Coombs. And because we are “in” now, we are playing again on Sunday with Ken & Curtis. We had a tee time for Sunday morning, but I cancelled it to be able to play with our fun golf buddies again!

We finished up golf in just under 2 hours. The course is in such fantastic shape for February and it is really nice to be getting out to golf as much as we are this time of year! And we really like playing 9 holes. There is so much else to do in the day, instead of spending the whole day golfing!

We knew that Milner Gardens & Woodland which was only a 4 minute drive south towards Parksville on the Coastal Hwy. The Gardens were opening today for the season, so after golf we decided we would go and visit.

Welcome Interpretive Centre at Milner Gardens & Woodland. We paid our $6 admission each and found out that the Gardens are staffed by 500 volunteers, as well as 5 paid staff members. Ray and Rina Milner of Edmonton, Alberta bought the 70 acres of natural beauty perched on a bluff overlooking the Strait of Georgia in 1937 as a summer home. Both Ray & Rina took an active role in developing the early stages of the garden. They planted the Orchard and several of the existing trees. Rina died in 1952 and in 1954 Ray married Veronica from County Limerick, Ireland. Veronica admired the gardening expertise of Sir Fredrick Moore and his ’wild garden’ style. With the help of renowned rhododendron growers Ted & Mary Grieg, Ray and Veronica created an exquisite Canadian adaptation of a ‘wild garden’ nestled in the forest. The house, woods, orchard and rhododendron grove and lawn are in harmony with one another, and with nature. Many seeds and specimens found in the garden were gathered on the Milner’s extensive overseas travels.

Happy soul carrying the camera bag...again!

Entrance to Milner Gardens

The Greig‘s were instrumental in bringing so many species of rhododendrons to the Milner Gardens. We were told the rhododendrons will be in bloom around Mother’s Day in May, so we will miss the blooms unfortunately. There was one specimen of rhododendron in bloom today. It sure is wonderful to see such colour at this time of year!

Beautiful rhododendrons in bloom.

These rhododendrons looked like they would be blooming soon.

Rhododendron blooms

More rhododendron blooms. There were so many varieties from small to huge, it would be so beautiful to see them in bloom!

There were lots of neat paths in the gardens to explore.

There were some lovely water features in the garden.

Rustic water features in the garden with the moss on the stones.

After touring through the rhododendron gardens we came upon the Milner’s home which had a beautiful grand lawn overlooking the Strait of Georgia and the Coastal Mountains over on the B.C. mainland.

Richard checking out the map of the view. Such a stunning property!

Beautiful views over to the mainland of B.C.

Snowdrops! We won’t have these in bloom until maybe late April back home in Fort Erie. I remember last year how excited I was to find these early bloomers in the forest in Waverly forest, at the end of our street.

Eranthis hyemalis or ‘winter aconite” which blooms in very early spring. It’s still not spring here, but these beauties are blooming!

I could only find one lonely crocus in bloom today, but I’m sure the others will be blooming soon.

English primroses.

After touring around the gardens we were hungry and we had heard that the tea shop in the actual old Milner home served a takeout lunch. We went in to see what we could get for lunch.

Smokie soup with sausage and potatoes for Richard.

Tomato navy bean for me.

Freshly made, warm cheese herb tea biscuits. Soup and a tea biscuit was $6.95.

While we waited for our lunch, we saw there was a table of delicious homemade jams from the grounds at Milner Gardens. We had to buy a couple of jams to try since they looked so good!

Jams at $5.95 and home made! Unusual too...

We had an amazing picnic lunch on a little wooden bench sitting outside the Milner home, overlooking this statue of Pan.

Statue of Pan.

We learned that on May 5, 1986 Charles and Diana visited the gardens for lunch.

And Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip stayed in the house from October 9-11, 1987 before attending the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver. We asked where the bedrooms were and were told that they stayed in separate bedrooms on both ends of the main floor of the home.

Ancient Coastal Douglas Fir tree which we were told is over 400 years old!

We had heard that we could purchase plants from cuttings at Milner Gardens to take home if we wanted,

While at the garden centre area I had a little technical trouble! I was stuck on the prickly branch. Richard had to come to my rescue!

Cuttings done by the volunteers. They have been very busy getting ready for the opening today. Some of the cuttings were not ready for purchase yet. We decided we would buy a couple of plants to keep at the front of Newman and we would have a great story to tell when we planted them back home in Fort Erie!

Black Mondo grass. We have lots of grasses at our home in Fort Erie, but we had never seen this black grass before. Apparently it has lavender-white flowers in summer, followed by blue fruit and does well in full sun in zones 6-10. We are in zone 6b in Fort Erie, so we think this will look very nice in our garden, and we can split it as it spreads.

We also bought a small rhododendron called Unique. We had wanted to re-design our front yard landscaping so this plant will be a start to that process!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Milner Gardens & Woodland. Such a ‘dreamy’ place! I think we will go back there again to see what else is blooming, while we are still here. It’s so cheerful to see the spring flowers in February! The service was so amazing at the gardens too! They even offered to drive our box of plants to the Visitors Centre at the entrance, so Richard wouldn’t have to carry the plants all the way up the hill to the entrance.

Next up for us today was to go and get some seafood education at the French Creek Seafood Retail Store, as well as buy some salmon for dinner!

French Creek Seafood Retail Store. The store is on the far right of the picture.

Fresh seafood just waiting for us to buy some! Open 7 days a week too!

Oysters, mussels, clams, halibut, salmon, crab cakes! A seafood lovers dream!

We bought a cedar plank tonight for the BBQ salmon we plan to make.

Regular prices

Today’s specials.

Kelly explaining to us the various grades of salmon. She said we had to buy sockeye for dinner as it was the best to eat. The grade of the salmon descends from the top. We could never figure out which salmon was the best to we know thanks to Kelly.

Kelly holding up the sockeye salmon we bought for $7.06 for dinner! What a bargain!!

We also bought a piece of chum salmon that had been candied. Oh my goodness was it delicious! We are definitely going back to buy some more of this delicious delicacy!!

French Creek harbour. This is definitely a working fisherman’s harbour.

I loved the colour on the fishing ropes on this ship!

We headed home up the Coastal Hwy. and while sleepy Richard drove, I looked at the amazing magazine that I had picked up at the French Creek Seafood store.

What a great magazine to find out about all things gourmet and local on Vancouver Island. We had not realized Courtenay has a Saturday Farmer’s market until I read this magazine, so tomorrow we are going to go and check that out! I love the knife on the cover of this magazine too. We found out these knives are sold in Tofino, so that is something else we must check out in March, when we are in Tofino!

What a great busy week! The days sure fly by here on the Island. We are enjoying every minute of Island life. Dr Bonnie Henry decided today that because of the variants and the lack of vaccines, that B.C. indefinitely will remain under the current Covid restrictions, which means no socializing inside. Perhaps by the end of February B.C. may once again introduce the concept of “safe six”, but not now. We are ok with these rules if this keeps the virus from spreading. Stay safe everyone!

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