VanDusen Gardens with Jake

Jake Sornsin is one of our Product Development Merchandisers at Classic Accessories.  He takes great responsibility in proposing and researching new product ideas to take into development.  Ultimately, it is a lot of research into category trends and popular items in the market that need to be protected. Jake has an eye for detail when defining the scope of  projects before kicking it over to the Design team to create the idea and move it forward in our development process. Hefollows the project through the development cycle with the Design Team, our Packaging Art Team, and the Quality Control Team. And ensure that our objectives for the item are coming at the correct price for the consumer. Jake took his love of the outdoors to beautiful Vancouver, BC and shares a fun “walk through the park” with us at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens last weekend.

While not as famous as the Butchart Gardens we found the trip equally as beautiful and much easier to access because there is no need for a ferry.

VanDusen is a former golf course converted into a botanical garden in 1970. The 55 acres was converted into one of the most diverse collections of plant life in the world. The highlights of the trip were as follows:

This is my girlfriend, Georgina, and I at a lily pond at the start of our day. This section of the park features plants from the Eastern United States. We are big fans of the lily pads. We waited around but didn’t see any frogs, maybe next time.

I love totem poles because it’s such a creative, beautiful way to tell a story. The Gitksan people carved these totem poles. The one on the left tells the origin of the mosquitoes. The top is the chief of the blood-sucking mosquito people. Below him is the young woman who killed the Chief and saved her baby and husband (bottom). The pole on the right describes the origin of the Black Bear Crest of the Orca Clan. A man was transformed into a bear and lived among the bears (bottom, bear holding human face). When he returned to his people, a kind old healer helped him become human again (top, man holding the healer). The black bears remained friends with the man and would help him if he was in trouble, so he and his descendants took the bear as their crest. (I got this info from a plaque at the gardens).


The Butchart Gardens may be more traditional and feature more of a cohesive story but at VanDusen it is all about putting as much variety into the space as possible. This section of the park was like walking in a dreamlike prairie. It feels like a visual overload but I loved it. We tried to take Christmas card pictures here but it started to rain and it distorted the pictures and not in a good way.


This was my favorite tree at the park. It is a type of conifer found in Argentina and Chile called the Monkey Puzzle tree. These are its leaves, which are scale-like. The tree is incredible; it is considered a living fossil because they can live to be over 1300 years old! It got its name from one of the first Englishman who saw it who proclaimed that the tree would puzzle a monkey to climb. It is the national tree of Chile but is endangered because of loss of habitat, a rise in invasive species, and over harvesting of its seeds which are like larger pine nuts. Word of caution, these trees have very sharp leaves on them, great for pictures, not so kind to fingers!

Georgina’s mom has those orange flowers (center) in a garden at home. In her garden they grow more like a bush on the ground. We saw some of those as well but thought that this one was much more interesting growing as a tree. The willow in the background makes for a great backdrop.


This is a type of Japanese cedar. There is an section of them near a pretty pond full of lily pads.  I took this picture from just inside the leaves on one side and marveled at the intricacy of this tree.jake_7a

Here is an Elizabethan maze that is on the grounds taken from an observational terrace. Georgina’s mom went in ahead of us and we tried to go and scare her. She ended up getting out pretty quick and we were so busy trying to scare her that it took us a good 10 minutes to get out! This maze was no joke. Jake recommends visiting the Gardens any time of year! Plan your trip today to see the amazing Fall colors that are just around the corner! You’ll be glad you did.



VanDusen Gardens with Jake

Theresa’s Favorite Spot

Theresa Relyea is the Content Specialist of our E-Commerce Team here at Classic Accessories. She wouldn’t be the first to tell you, but I will – the girl has a green thumb I am jealous of! I asked her to tell me a little bit about her garden and she told me about her favorite spot:

My favorite spot in my garden is this corner. It’s a shady one that can get rather dark here in Washington. That’s why I planted the bleeding hearts in the corner, to fill that area with bright greenery and brilliant pink blooms.

It fills the area at the base of my plum tree and welcomes birds of all sorts with my feeders and baths. One of my favorite things to do on my patio is watch the humming birds. This fountain is their favorite place to sit in the pedals and drink from the water falls. It’s the perfect size for them.

I just had this peony pop up from transplanting a rose bush into this corner. It’s one of those rogue plants that makes gardening so much fun. It goes great with the bleeding hearts. There is no other place I would rather have my morning coffee than this little spot in my own outdoors.

Here are some more tips on bringing hummingbirds to your patio with flowers, shurbs and trees from Debbie Hine-Lea of

I have found that this is the best recipe for making your own nectar–I feel the birds prefer it over the various instant mixes.

  • 1 Part Sugar
  • 4 Parts Water
  • Boil 1-2 Minutes
  • Cool & Store In Refrigerator

Never use honey or artificial sweeteners!
Honey ferments easily, and can cause sores in a hummers mouth.
Artificial sweeteners have no food value.
DO NOT use red food coloring in your solution, as this could be harmful to your hummers. Most feeders have red on them and that should be enough.

Here are lists of Flowers, Shrubs and Trees you can plant in your garden to attract hummingbirds:


1 Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis
2 Lantana Lantana camara
3 Columbine Aguilegia spp.
4 Fuchsias Fuchsia spp.
5 Impatiens Impatiens spp.
6 Coral-Bells Heuchera sanguinea
7 Hollyhocks Althea spp.
8 Penstemen Penstemen spp.
9 Petunia Petunia spp.
10 Flowering Tobacco Nicotania alata
11 Geranium Pelargonium spp.
12 Begonia Begonia spp.


1 Azaleas Rhododendron spp.
2 Butterfly Bush Buddleia davidii
3 Flowering Quince Chaenomeles japonica
4 Honeysuckle Lonicera spp.
5 Weigela Weigela spp.


1 Flowering Crab Malus spp.
2 Tulip Poplar Liriodendron Tulipifera
3 Locust Robinia
4 Eucalyptus Eucalyptus spp.
5 Vines Honeysuckle Lonicera heckrottii
6 Morning Glory Ipomea ssp.
7 Trumpet Creeper Campsis radicans
8 Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens

**The Hummingbird Book by Donald and Lillian Stokes. Published by Little, Brown and Company. (ISBN 0-316-81715-5)  by Debbie Hine-Lea


Theresa’s Favorite Spot