In the Garden column: Can you keep a Paulik Park secret?

Little-known park in Richmond took decades to build and now serves as a natural oasis in a growing urban jungle

Ahhh! Paulik Neighbourhood Park — Richmond’s very own secret garden in the centre of Richmond.  

This six-acre city-owned park was once owned and inhabited by two families as far back as the 1930s — the Ohlers and the Pauliks.  

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The Ohler family sold botanical plants and frogs. The Paulik family planted a forest and perennial garden beds using the arts and crafts design popular in the 1930s.  

Arts and crafts landscape design incorporated the look of “wild gardens” with informal borders.  

The use of rocks or plants (for example, boxwood hedges) to delineate borders was predominate in this style of gardening, along with incorporating long, lush focal view points within the gardens.  

Matriarch Irene Paulik was the chief architect of the Paulik Park perennial gardens, covering 1.5 acres on their property. 

Rock and plant borders are abundant within the park. Long, magnificent views of sumptuous gardens are prevalent in the park from all angles.  

As soon as the Lion’s Gate bridge opened in 1938, the Paulik family visited the North Shore and brought home coniferous tree seedlings of all types, creating a forest on their property!  

They also brought back sequoia seedlings and planted them in their gardens.

After Irene and her husband passed away, their son, Ed Paulik, continued to live on the property and maintained the gardens.  

He delighted in adding massive rocks he collected from his many adventures into the interior of British Columbia, which can be seen today. 

The City of Richmond purchased the property a number of years ago with Ed continuing to maintain the gardens. 

When Ed passed away, the family home was demolished and the gardens were adopted by Richmond Garden Club in 2008.

Today, volunteers from the Richmond Garden Club and the community at large continue to maintain 36 perennial garden beds in the park.  

The joy that we, the volunteers, experience is palpable — anyone strolling through the park enjoy finding us up to their elbows in dirt.  

Lots of friendly conversations, even with people who speak other languages, are struck between the gardeners and the visitors.  

Children of all ages love hanging out with us; friendly dogs always need to stop by and ask for a pat or two.  

We even have a neighbourhood cat who loves to come in and see what we are all up to!

Imagine the feelings of peace we have while being surrounded by lush green plants, vivid coloured flowers and perfume scents from plants around us!  

First time visitors to the park have trouble leaving. They can be found wandering through all the nooks and crannies of the gardens finding something new and astounding at every turn.

Long time faithful visitors spend many days a week strolling through the gardens enjoying the quiet and the ever-changing landscape. People often say to us with their finger on their lips, “Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. I call this my secret garden!” 

A strong sense of ownership has been created within our community with all the interactions between the volunteers and visitors to the park.

We invite you to come and visit us and share the joy of this gem in the middle of our urban jungle. Paulik Neighbourhood Park is located north of Blundell Road between Heather and Ash Streets.

But don’t tell anyone!

Lynda Pasacreta is the current president of the Richmond Garden Club. If you would like to join the club or volunteer in the gardens at Paulik Park, email the club RichmondGardenClub@gmail.com. Richmond Garden Club has been supporting urban gardening since 1957.

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