Residents of the Burkeville neighbourhood near Vancouver International Airport enjoyed a sunny Saturday afternoon visiting and learning about their neighbours’ gardens.
One of the 10 gardens featured in this year’s Burkeville in Bloom is tended by mother and son duo Berenice and Ashton Pawlik.
“We often garden alone, and so this is a way to include the community in our garden,” Berenice told the Richmond News.
Berenice, who has been gardening for around 17 years, is in charge of the flowers while Ashton takes care of the vegetables.
“There’s something indescribable about gardening. It’s like planting something and it grows and then you get to eat it. It’s really amazing,” said Ashton.
“I couldn’t recommend it enough.”
The shared hobby has allowed Berenice and Ashton to bond outside of household chores, though they do get territorial at times.
“I over-plant and overcrowd and he’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, I planted tomatoes.’ And then he goes and picks them out and thins them out,” said Berenice.
The Pawliks have been cultivating pollinator-friendly plants to encourage more bees to return to the community, as there weren’t enough bees in Burkeville for their fruit trees. That has now changed.
“It’s kind of scary sometimes walking around here, just buzzing all over the place,” said Ashton.
The two had started out as novice gardeners but decided to take part in a sustainable food gardening initiative organized by DirtMagicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There wasn’t too much to do so (we) just kind of took it and ran with it. And it’s been really fun ever since,” said Ashton.
Berenice told the News she ventured into vegetable gardening because she wanted to reduce the family’s carbon footprint. Instead of purchasing two containers of arugula, lettuce greens or salad mix every week, the family has been getting salad ingredients from their own garden.
From refreshingly sweet peas to broccoli, eggplants, peppers and garlic, it’s always harvest time at Ashton’s vegetable patch.
And the community is here to help if they have a big harvest.
“Last year, we had a chair out and we had little ice cream buckets full of these little lettuce heads or whatever we have an overabundance and people just (came)… after work and (drove) by and helped themselves,” said Berenice.
Not far from the Pawliks’ is artist Karen Parker’s garden. Parker, who has been converting her shady garden into a sunny garden after a tree fell down, told the News participating in the event helped motivate her to work on her garden.
Parker’s garden is still in its beginning stages, but she already has some rhododendrons and hydrangeas in bloom. Her current challenge, said Parker, is to find a way to place her plants to prevent weeds from growing.
“And I’m new to gardening, so… every spring it’s like, ‘Oh, what survived?’”
Burkeville has a lot of gardeners
Burkeville in Bloom is organized by residents Lorna Clare and Melanie Coath with the support of the Sea Island Community Association. The signs welcoming visitors to each garden were donated by Bob Schmitz, a neighbour who participated in last year’s event.
Clare told the News she started the event with Coath in 2022 as a way to showcase all the gardeners in Burkeville. Although the community had garden tours in the past during City of Richmond events, it had been a while since something similar was organized.
“And it’s just a way to connect with our neighbours,” she said.
Now in its second year, Clare and Coath made sure to feature a different group of gardens from last year.
“We didn’t want it to become where these are the only gardens that are important to see because that’s absolutely not the truth. So many people in Burkeville love to garden,” said Clare.
She added that the event features a mix of gardens new and old, some dating back decades, as well gardens in all stages.
“We would love to do it every year, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully, yes, we’ll build up that interest,” said Clare.