WAT’S UP – Adam Sawatsky

Topiary triumphs

The next time you say hello to a hedge and don’t hear it say anything in return, you may want to listen a little harder. “They whisper,” says the man standing beside us with laugh, “they don’t yell out.”

His name is Georgio and he first heard a yew tree talk 25 years ago. Before he shows us how that conversation ended, he invites us to see how another one is beginning. He looks up at a still untamed tree in his backyard and points around it. “The tail’s going to be over there. The flipper’s here. And I haven’t decided to put a ball on the end of its nose or not.”  After looking at it and listening to it, Georgio has agreed to help the tree reveal its inner seal.

The videographer starts capturing the sounds and sights of how Georgio does that: hands and garden tools snipping and clipping; moving together as one in a jubilant dance.

When Georgio is done, we don’t see much change. He says we won’t see the seal for about five years. “It’s the voyage. Not the destination.” He shows us a plant that’s a couple years into the process of becoming a peacock, its ‘feathers’ starting to fan out behind it.

And then we walk towards the front yard of his Rockland home. Return to the tree that first caught our attention as we were searching for stories for the end of the six o’clock news – the tree shaped like a duck.

It towers over us. The videographer has to step back a few meters to get it all in. To make sure he can get the duck’s hat in the frame. This first conversation that Georgio started almost a quarter century ago has ended by putting a hat on the hedge. The bonnet is made from an upside-down waste-paper basket, fake flowers and an umbrella with a penguin pattern. It’s tied around the topiary’s neck with a blue ribbon from a mattress pad wrapping.

I ask why it was worth the time and effort to turn the tree into a duck with a hat and Georgio laughs. He laughs often. “I like whimsy, a little bit of fun, joking around.”

And the trees seem to like being transformed. The duck is apparently set to return the favour, by helping to celebrate Georgio’s daughter’s upcoming wedding. It whispered it wanted to wear a veil.

I ask what his daughter will think? Georgie responds with a laugh: “Surprised, unexpected and dad’s at it again!”

Adam Sawatsky is co-host of CTV News Vancouver Island at Five. On weekends, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley led the effort to create a Vancouver Island poetry booklet in recognition of National Poetry Month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library publishes booklet for National Poetry Month

Collection features winners of ‘Poem in your Pocket’ contest

SENCOTEN language revitalizationist and filmmaker Renee Sampson’s short film, Bringing Our Language Back to LIfe, shows online during the Reel 2 Real International Youth Film Festival, April 14-23. (Photo courtesy Wapikoni)
SENCOTEN language featured in short film created on Saanich Peninsula

Renee Sampson film highlights importance of passing on traditional languages to youth

The area surrounding the Chemainus Rotary Club’s bunker door is one of the new surfaces that will feature a mural. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Up to three new murals coming to Chemainus

Project will be coordinated between the Rotary Club and Festival of Murals Society

Most Read