25 February 2009

The Artist-Gardener of Liverpool

Despite the best attempts of Mother Nature to bury this family of her Nova Scotian children in 78,000,0000,876,907,352,086 snowflakes artfully arranged (as James Alexander-Sinclair so sympathetically counted observed), we felt definitely hints of spring in the air today. Of course, that may be because I fled to the balmy south--shore, that is, of Nova Scotia. To Liverpool, to be exact. Not THAT Liverpool. No Beatles here. Maybe a few aging beatniks, but nary a sign of a Paul or a Ringo.

I love Liverpool. Not only is it a whole zone balmier than our wildness (as a rule, though they've had their share of winter this year), but it's also a lovely historic town. It's also home to one of the most interesting of garden centre operators/plantsmen, Ivan Higgins. Ivan runs Cosby's Garden Centre here in town, and it's appropriate that I mention him because it was he I bought my Hamamelis 'Diane' from several years ago.

Ivan is an artist in every sense of the word, not only with plants, but with cement, pencil, pen and ink too. He is known for his lifesize (and beyond) concrete sculptures, which are all around the Garden Centre. They are imaginative, whimsical, hilarious, magical, and they make Cosby's a destination even if you're not as besotted with plants as some of us are.
I popped in a couple of weeks ago to say hello, and Ivan proudly showed me a drawing he has been working on for many hours this winter. It encapsulates his life as a nursery operator and artist beautifully, although you'd have to visit and see the drawing AND the nursery in order to appreciate all its details and nuances for yourself. 

The front of the garden centre is all windows/glasshouse panels, and on a sunny day it's just as nice a place to visit as you could possibly hope to imagine. 

I looked longingly at this handsome aeonium, as mine is feeling very hard-done-by back home, with insufficient sunlight and naughty kitties causing it some distress. 

There weren't a huge number of plants for sale at the nursery the day I visited, it being just before Valentine's Day and still plenty early to be carrying too much other than houseplants. A few flats of rooted cuttings were happy to soak up the sun, however. 

And the big tropicals that stay outside during the summer months are whiling away their winter in the garden centre quite contentedly. Ivan likes to push the zones so he's got a Gunnera (nicknamed Gramma) buried outside under straw and snow, and it's done just fine the past several years. But these plants are far less forgiving so they come indoors until spring remenbers where we are. 

I'll have more to say about Liverpool and surrounding areas in coming weeks, as a project I'm involved with has me visiting here every week. And that's not a bad thing at all. 


  1. I'm glad you were able to escape into this (relatively) warm and wonderful world for a little while, Jodi. The nursery looks like a great place to forget the winter blahs for a while.
    The detail in that drawing is amazing!
    We had a warmer day too, after a frigid start. We're promised warm again tomorrow, and even Friday, before a bit of a cool down again. We'll take it with gratitude! :)

  2. It looks like the kind of place you want to spend time looking around, then find a nice comfy chair, sit in the sunshine and visit for awhile...His concrete work reminds me of a local concrete carver. The concrete is carved or shaped before it dries. Very cool. I hope you do get warmer weather soon. Gail

  3. Liverpool, Lunenburg, Chester, Mahone Bay -- all little bits of Paradise to me. :) Mr. Higgins is exceedingly talented! I'll certainly put this nursery on my list of places to see on my at-least-once-yearly trip to the South Shore. :) I'm glad you were able to enjoy this beautiful day in such a nice way.

  4. Oooh... I love Mr. Higgins' work. Those Cirque... statues, tumbling...very, very cool, Jodi. What a fun place to shop.

  5. Very nice place to shop and visit..
    Sometimes I go and visit the Conservatory. Love the Art Work!

  6. We all need to escape to somewhere a bit warmer at this time of year. You are plagued by snow, I by rain, and lots of it.

    I wouldn't set too much store by James's counting as he gets very confuddled after he's run out of fingers to count on. ;-) The poor man is under the impression that I have 43,000 cats. Well, do I need to say more? ;-)

    Ivan's garden centre is great, what a pity it's ever so slightly too far away for me.

  7. *Gasp!* the Cirque du Ivan sculptures are incredible! Oh, I wish I had talent like that! They are positively breath taking!

  8. I'd love to visit his place. What a treasure trove of ideas. Loved the whimsical things in your first photo.

  9. Most interesting to read your post Jodi as I live on the outskirts of the other Liverpool - the one of the Beatles fame - yeah, yeah, yeah:) The garden centre looks a lovely place to while away sometime on a sunny winter's day. I think that I would be a regular visitor. Look forward to finding out more about the other Liverpool :)

  10. Hi Jodi!

    You know I'm trying to Zone push here in Greenwood, hopefully I will be as those on the SOUTH Shore!

    Tony Chaulk

  11. What a wonderful place to roam and explore. I love garden centers and nurseries. I just made a trip to our local garden center a couple of days ago looking for a certain honeysuckle. I guess we're really spoiled here to have plants outside year-round at our center.


  12. Looks like a great place to escape all that snow outside your door! (Enjoyed the sign from your previous post, LOL.) In my teens I would much rather have visited the "other" Liverpool, but now a garden center with a friendly and helpful owner sounds more appealing.

  13. Fascinating. Gramma is huge! That drawing is rather interesting and how does he have the time while keeping his flock of plants tended? I look forward to more Liverpool and cat stories.

  14. What a delightful place to get to browse. Seeing your pictures makes me want to get out and cruise the nurseries. None around here have such lovlies to look at yet. Sigh~~


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