Return to Free Spirit to see old friends, buy new plants


    It’s been ages since I last saw my friends Lambert and Marjanne Vrijmoed, owners of Free Spirit Nursery on 32nd Avenue in Langley.

    I’m not sure why we haven’t seen more of each other over the past few years. I guess other things have been pressing in and we were away when they were here and they were away when we were here.  Sometimes, life goes like that.

    Marjanne and Lambert Vrijmoed, owners of Free Spirit Nursery in Langley.

    Yesterday, I visited them at the nursery and I took along a few friends to show them what a superb garden-nursery it is. Lambert and Marjanne have excellent taste in plants and have a wonderful eye for garden composition.

    Free Spirit is the example of what all home-based nurseries should be and even more of an example of what mainstream garden centres could be.

    London plane trees planted on an angle and espaliered to create shade for the parking lot at Free Spirit Nursery

    Every time I visit Free Spirit, I see something new and exciting.  The Vrijmoeds are immensely creative and imaginative.

    I suspect some of their ideas come from their friendship with famous Dutch designer and iconic landscaper Piet Oudolf, but perhaps that is unfair to the Vrijmoeds for their own resourcefulness and inventiveness. I just think they have a link and they probably inspire one another.

    London plane branches cut and stuffed into large pot.

    This time at the nursery I noticed large pots filled with cut branches from their London plane trees.

    These trees have been superbly planted on an angle and pleached and espaliered to create shade for the parking lot.

    One of the side alleys at the nursery.

    From one angle, the nursery looks like a garden without divisions, just a rolling tapestry of flower colour and foliage texture. But when you get closer you discover there are many side alleys and smaller compartmentalized areas, some with seats and others with large pots filled with water or specialty plants.

    Decorative pot filled with water.

    Our afternoon visit was filled with catch-up stories as we strolled and paused to look at some amazing plant combinations or lush border of blue salvia backed by towering thalictrum or to examine new structural additions to the nursery.

    I am always astonished by how much physical work Lambert and Marjanne do. In one place, they have a huge pile of 12-by-12 inch timbers, which Lambert tells me he and three friends carried in, a beam at a time, after he had dug footings himself for a new structure.

    Bench with customized patio bench table with holes cut for plants

    My friends were equally impressed and felt very privileged to be guided around, particularly on what was the nursery’s last day of business before closing for summer.

    I told Lambert about spots in my garden that I need to find new plants for. He made suggestions. I bought whatever he pointed out. I ended up with trays full of hardy fuchsia Little Giant, some Kalimeris incisa Blue Star,  silver-leaf Hieracium lanatum and some dwarf anemone Wild Swan. My friends also bought some new plants for their gardens including some podophyllum Spotty Dotty and some Knautia macedonica and other things.

    Curving hedges sweep across the nursery in a gentle wave pattern

    After a lovely time together, we left and promised not to leave it so long between get togethers. I already have plans for a soiree in a few weeks when they can look at where I planted the new plants. Hope they like what they see.

    Kalimeris incisa Blue Star
    Hieracium lanatum
    Fuchsia Little Giant


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