Schoen Garden in Vancouver

The sun filters through a canopy of leaves in the garden.

Returning a once-beautiful garden to glory

written and photographed by Gina Williams

When Robin and Janine Richardson purchased their Vancouver home, they had no idea that another special discovery was quietly waiting for them.

The secret finally revealed itself when they began clearing overgrown blackberry brambles and rogue weeds. The property, it turns out, features a famous garden created by the late Helene Schoen and designed by landscape architect Frank Shephard. Schoen was a businesswoman, philanthropist and first female president of the American Rose Society. She began creating the garden at about the same time the home was built in 1939. The property was later registered with the Smithsonian.

The Richardsons, along with their arborist John Ellerton, are restoring Schoen’s garden with passion and dedication, nurturing rare plants like a 12-foot-tall Japanese maple and a mature umbrella pine back to health.

Robin Richardson said he and his wife simply want to protect—and eventually share with the public—what Schoen began all those years ago.

“The beauty of this place is Helene’s vision and we want to honor that.”

Next read about this dramatic barn restoration in Spokane.

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