About Shephards' Garden

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Beginning in 1991, when the four acre, river front, property was purchased we have converted the original miniature horse corals to garden plots and flower beds. As the garden has evolved, it has taken on a multi seasonal theme, built around the bulbs and perennials that make up the display. Annuals are used to fill in the spaces where several thousand bulbs have died down after a spectacular spring display that starts in February and continues on to the beginning of June. Although we get most of our visitors in the summer, we always wish we could show more people around the daffodil and tulip display in April and May!

The perennial display begins in late May and early June at the height of the rhododendron and azalea bloom. The peonies, tree peonies and Wisteria lead off the display along with globe flowers, primulas and some of the early alliums. This is the time when it seems that the beds are so lush that it is impossible to cram in another plant. At the end of June, into July and August the annuals start to bloom and the lilies and delphiniums come into their own. Visitors get a chance to sample berries on the vines as they wander through the fruit garden behind the barn. 

This is the time that we have most of our visitors; it is also a time when we get a lot of good advice from people who have their own gardens and who visit to learn more about the plants that thrive, (or do not thrive) on the North Island. The giant Gunneras shade the water lilies in the pond at the entrance. We always gain ideas that help us to improve our gardens and we try to send some ideas and, occasionally, a few sample plants or cuttings away with our visitors. This is also the time when we rely on our son Joe, to keep the lawns cut and in good shape. 

Late August and fall is the time of penstemmons, rudbeckias, asters, montbretias, dahlias, and the oriental lilies that fill the yard with scent. The leaves on the Japanese Maples start to turn and the eagles congregate in the trees along the river watching for migrating salmon. The annuals have their last spurt of bloom. The "fall crocuses" appear suddenly. Now we look for places to plant more bulbs. We always get a few visitors in the Fall, as the vacationers who like to travel when the main summer visitors are back home putting the kids into school.

Most of our visitors take time to walk down our trail to the river, through a forest of second growth trees to a couple of old growth firs and cedars that were here when George Vancouver visited the Namgis band in the late eighteenth century. The trail is lines with ferns and the beginning of our shaded rhododendron garden. There are five species of migrating salmon that go up the river toward the lakes and, occasionally, visitors can see jumping fish and the seals that are chasing them. 

Drop us an e-mail or give us a ring if you are planning to visit, or just drop in as you pass Port McNeill on the Island highway. Follow the signs on Nimpkish Heights drive! Admission is by donation. The dogs, whose job is to keep the deer and bears out of the garden, are friendly.

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