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It’s About Thyme

Burnaby nursery It’s About Thyme is a gardening gem, but very few gardeners know about it


Corylus from It’s About Thyme nursery in Burnaby. Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Vancouver Sun

Listen, do you want to know a secret?

Let me tell you about a small, out-of-the-way place that few gardeners know about, where you can find quality plants at bargain prices.

It’s called It’s About Thyme Nursery and it is located on a compact third of an acre at 7509 Meadow Avenue in Burnaby.

Up until a few years ago, it was a place that exclusively supplied plants to landscapers.

At that time, it was called Pacific Nursery and it stocked plants from a variety of Fraser Valley nurseries.

The idea then was that landscapers could save themselves the time of driving out of town to pick up quality plants by just popping into this unique Burnaby location.

Then, three years ago, Ingrid Beattie, who was working at Pacific Nursery, bought the place and turned it into her own nursery – It’s About Thyme, although the place is about a lot more than thyme, the sun-loving herb.

Today, the nursery is an exciting place to find quality trees, shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses, all specifically cherry-picked by Beattie on her weekly trips out to her favourite growers in the valley.

“This is a hobby gone crazy here,” she says. “I have always been a plant lover. And I really enjoy working outdoors and dealing with landscapers. So doing this makes me happy.”

For more than 20 years, Ingrid worked alongside her husband, Stephen, to run their landscaping company, Artisan Landscapes. It was from that experience that Ingrid learned where to find quality plants at great prices.

While she concentrates on the nursery, Stephen runs Artisan and is the person who supplies GardenWorks with all of its bulk materials, soils and mulches.

What kind of quality plants can you find at It’s About Thyme?

Well, you’ll find Physocarpus ‘Coppertina’, which is a little different to the more common purple-leafed ninebark, because it has coppery-orange foliage.

Hakonechloa ‘Fubuki’ is another interesting find, a beautiful Japanese forest grass with the same handsome qualities as its more famous cousin, H. macra ‘Aureole’, but with green and white variegated foliage with a pink tinge.

Beattie is also smitten with a red-leaf form of the twisted hazel, Corylus avellana, called ‘Red Majestic’, which she says is beautiful with its leaves in summer, as well as with its bare branch structure in winter, making it a better choice than the more common plain green variety.

My favourite find at It’s About Thyme was Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’, a short, compact, hard shrub that produces feathery fern-like pink foliage in spring and white flowers in summer.

It is also known as Ural false spirea as it thrives in the wild in the cold of the Ural Mountains in Russia and Kazakhstan, and even as far north as western Siberia.

Beattie has also collected fine specimen trees, such as Acer sango kaku, and other Japanese maples. She uses them as centrepieces, dotted throughout the site, and surrounds them with smaller shrubs and perennials to create attractive displays.

In addition to some unusual plants, the nursery prides itself on stocking a wide range of quality, bulletproof shrubs that will stand the test of time, such as Sarcococca humulis, Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ and Chamaecyparis obtusa nana (dwarf Hinoki cypress).

“When I go looking for plants, I only pick things that I know are hardy enough for gardens here. I am always conscious of picking tried and true winners that I know will work,” says Ingrid.

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