More than eight years ago when Evelyn Faulkner sold her chicken ranch in Aldergrove after 20 years, she wanted a property where she could continue gardening.
But life was not easy.
"Being a single mother, I had a lot of stress in my life," she said.
Just over six years ago she cleared her lot at her Brookswood home and started a process that continues to this day - her Japanese-inspired garden.
"I've always gardened," the 61-year-old said. "I've always loved gardening."
Her one-acre garden features wooden bridges, a stone bridge, a 70-foot creek, natural stone and wood, two living roofs, and buildings assembled in Japanese style - with no nails.
"It was never intended to be this big," Faulkner chuckled.
Born and raised in this community, she loves the outdoors and finds the garden have proven therapeutic for her and others.
"The Japanese garden is calming," she said. "I like peace. I like quiet."
She's a member of the Langley Garden Club and the Vancouver Vintage Car Club, which has held two strawberry tea fundraisers there. The garden club has toured and she's used the garden for other private events, including the B.C. Landscaping and Nursery Association tour in September.
The garden was profiled in a Japanese landscaping magazine and the Burnaby-based landscape designer had 49 calls in within the first week wanting to learn more about the garden.
"People just keep asking to see it," Faulkner said.
She's now sharing the garden with the public, opening it for Christmas tours on certain days this month to raise money for Ronald McDonald House.
"This is my first public event," Faulkner said.
She knew she wanted the tour to have a philanthropic element.
"I just love what they do," she said of Ronald McDonald House.
Since 1983, Ronald McDonald House BC has been a home-away-from-home for almost 11,000 B.C. and Yukon families with seriously ill children. For families who must travel to Vancouver for their child's treatment, the house keeps sick children, parents, and siblings together when they need each other the most.
"I just have a huge love for children," Faulkner said. "I was blessed to have three healthy children, and I have five healthy grandchildren."
Faulkner looks forward to touring Christmas lights around the community.
"I always look in the paper [for the addresses] and tour to see what people do," she said.
So she's hoping the public will enjoy touring her display during the holidays. The site has been decorated with warm white LEDs and cool whites, antique bronze and ice blue decorations, to keep with the calming Japanese theme. She can't begin to guess how many lights have been used.
"How many stores did we buy out," she joked.
The gas fire pit will be on during the self-guided tours that will feature holiday music and there is a public washroom but no food is allowed. Any children must stay with their parents/guardians.
There will be information pamphlets available on Ronald McDonald House and the gardens, which will be available in the future for events. Faulkner wants to hold corporate and other private events, and more charity events in her unique backyard.
Future plans could include hosting events for caregivers and related to respite.
The public will admitted to the garden only on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29, and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on those dates.
Entry is through the big gate on the west side of the property at 21004 43rd Ave.
More information is available at 604-534-5902 or www.thymeon43rd.com.
People are advised to wear walking shoes, be ready for uneven ground, and dress warmly. Strings of lights block off areas where the public cannot go.
@ Copyright 2013