Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Thomas Hobbs and Brent Beattie's (new) garden

This was my first private garden visit during the Vancouver Hardy Plant Group Study Weekend back in June. Some of you will recognize the name, Thomas Hobbs. He has two books out in the world: The Jewel Box Garden and Shocking Beauty. His previous garden was much photographed (this blog post covers it) and he and his husband Brent Beattie are the owners of Southlands Nursery, where the Study Weekend event's Saturday night soiree was held (part of this post). 

Garden visitors were guided to park on a large mown patch of lawn, this stunning greenhouse addition was the first thing I saw when I got out of my car...

It's tucked up under the eaves of a large workshop/garage.

Here's the garden description from our event booklet: "Our 20-acre farm in South Langley is a collection of visions—some are entirely from Mother Nature and many are our own experiments. We were very fortunate to find a parcel of land "that had it all," with a picturesque rolling hills landscape, huge 200 year old trees, a river, and a lake which we added." 

"Brent is restoring a stunning old barn where Tom hopes to give classes. Gardens include collections of tree peonies, iris (Tom breeds tall bearded types), many different perennials and vegetables in a deer proof enclosure."

"Tom's "Dreamhouse Greenhouse" is his 17th one. It looks antique but was made just down the road by BC Greenhouse Builders."

It looks antique indeed, it fooled me. Now let's look inside the greenhouse...

I wonder what it looks like in the winter? More of a storage space? Or still a display focused space?

I love the vintage nozzle display.

Back outside now and walking up the incline next to the greenhouse.

Looking back over my shoulder...

And ahead! Wowsa. This is not what I was expecting to come across at the top of the steps.

If you scroll back up to the first and third photos you'll see that wall of evergreens at the far end of the pool, but from the other side—to give you a little perspective on where the pool is located.

Thomas and Brent laid out a couple before photos...

Walking on I discovered this 1970's (?) era home on the property. Peeking in the windows it looked like work was happening here but with what goal I am not sure.

Imagine having this much property that you're responsible for!

Back up near where I started, this is the working structure beyond the greenhouse.


And back outside...

Turning towards the barn...

Peeking around inside...

On to another small structure on the property, Canadian Club Whiskey...

Looking off into the distance...

The house in which the owners are living. Is it new construction? Existing? I'm not sure.

Ugh, Bishop's weed—Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum'—and a look alike, maybe variegated dogwood?

New outbuilding under construction.

Loved this plant, but I have no idea what it is.

I enjoyed seeing the construction technique.

Walking back up towards the house now.

Inside the deer-fence.

The house is larger than it first appears to be.

And that's a wrap on this garden visit!

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All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Best planted tree stump I've ever seen! I have both of Hobbs' books and love them. The greenhouse reminded a lot of the books and it did indeed feel like a fancy, high-end plant store, at least in its summer version. The surrounding area feels very different but then, gardening in a 20-acre space isn't something I can even imagine. It'd be interesting to see it again 3-5 years out.

    1. The stump is a planter! (isn't it fabulous?) Yes I would love to see it again in a few years too...

  2. I’m exhausted just thinking about caring for any one space you pictured. My dreams are definitely not this big.

    1. Agreed, and these fellows are not spring chickens!

  3. That plant near the pond you loved looks a lot like acanthus spinosus to me.

    It's great to see this. I'd heard the house had sold a while back and had wondered what was next for them. It's so great they found this.

    I'd actually like to have this much property because plenty of work room and also being able to decide for myself where garden ends and Nature begins, plus lack(or low impact) of neighbors who prune things that kill shade and/or grow things that kill sunshine and hog water.... I'd like to be able to nurture and restore a little bit of healthy habitat, too. In realty, this is quite unlikely to happen, but that's OK, I also want to do other things that conflict with this vision.

    1. Ah, I think you may be right, thank you for the ID.

      I like the way you phrase "being able to decide for myself where garden ends and nature begins"... I used to think I would have trouble with that but I too think it would be an interesting challenge.

  4. This garden has a very different design style than their previous one. Probably a reflection on their more rural surroundings . Thomas always has the coolest plants and ornaments for the garden like those giant spheres. They remind me of ones that you braced yourself into and rolled around. Would love outbuildings for all the garden stuff- pots, extra plants, tools, etc-instead of cramming them all into one spot. Lots to love. Thanks for the tour. Did you get a chance to tour the actual nursery? So many great things in there.

    1. Yes! The nursery was the location of our Saturday night soiree, it was wonderful!

  5. When talking about a 20-acre farm one expect 'farm' things, so that slick, modern and stunning pool area is absolutely a surprise.
    The 'Canadian Club Whiskey...' structure: love it and immediately coveted the pile of clay tiles on the left. The old barn and trough (?) are very cool. I don't suppose I'd been able to keep the trough empty so I appreciate their restraint (so far).

    1. Ha! Yes, no doubt that trough is destined for marvelous things.

  6. Thanks Loree loved seeing this garden through your eyes. I haven’t been there since shortly after it was as purchased and much was still just a vision. So much has become a reality. A testament to the success of Southlands I suspect. The upkeep must be staggering but what a playground for Thomas and Brent’s creativity!

    1. A playground... for sure! Glad you enjoyed.

  7. They've got good eyes for artistically arranging stone, wood, and metal to give the appearance of something that has been around for hundreds of years. That barn, the little outbuilding, the new structure, all lovely stone and faded wood. The garden feels like it is somewhere further east or perhaps in England.

    1. Funny you say that (further east) as I just returned from a week in Pennsylvania and it would indeed be very at home there.

  8. AnonymousJune 02, 2024

    Thanks, his two books are among my favorites. (from Skyler)


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