‘It’s lovely’: Teacup tree in James Bay gets national attention

'It's lovely': Teacup tree in James Bay gets national attention
Photo: Ethan Morneau/CHEK News
People from across Canada say they've heard about the teacup tree on Clarence Street, just off Niagara Street in James Bay.

Blossoms are in bloom across Victoria and in James Bay, there’s one special tree on Clarence Street that has people flocking to see it.

A plum outside Rory Palmer and Nairn Wilson’s home is one of many lining the street, but for over a decade has a little something extra — dozens and dozens of teacups hanging from its branches, a unique display with a sentimental backstory.

“About 13 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. It was a really hard fight,” recalled Palmer. “She wanted something to make her feel a little bit happier, and she came up with this.”

According to Palmer, the antique china and pink petals are a perfect combo.

“We still constantly see people coming by and stopping, and one lady said she and her friend come down from Nanaimo just to see it,” he said. “They’re are quite a few people doing stuff like that.”

But just in CHEK News’ short visit, numerous people from out of province strolled by saying they heard about the tree and had to see it for themselves.

“We’re here for the month of April from New Brunswick. Never seen anything like it before, it’s really unique,” said one passerby.

“We just got off the cruise ship and we’re walking around. It’s very interesting with the cherry blossom trees and somebody said, ‘Oh, just go check out the cup tree,'” added another.

One woman visiting from Hubbards, N.S., was amazed.

“Oh, it’s lovely. I think it means sharing a lot of moments, causing people to stop and take a moment,” she said, before snapping some photos with her camera.

SEE MAP: Petal power: Victoria’s iconic cherry blossoms are back in bloom

The cups are kept up year round, though Victoria’s stormy weather doesn’t always play in favour — oftentimes, the porcelain breaks, but the couple’s not short on supplies.

“Lately, people have been giving them to me,” said Palmer. “I used to go to church sales. At one church, the lady in charge of the dishes would put away a box for me and I’d come by every four, five months.”

The tree also pays homage to his late grandmother Eleanor Palmer, a local teacher and tea-time aficionado who passed away in 1985. Today, her grandson remembers her fearless personality.

“In the ’30s, she’d take cruises to Australia, the Philippines. Hong Kong was another one, Japan. Single women didn’t do things like that in those days, but my grandmother did,” recalled Palmer.

“In those days, your grannies, well mine especially, had a tea cart with fine china and they had their friends over, little cakes, the whole nine yards.”

Palmer and his wife see the joy in their spectacular tribute every single day and hope it sticks around forever.

“The first time somebody sees it, they’re walking by and stop and then they look at it and start laughing and giggling. It’s nice to know that you’ve made someone’s day that way,” exclaimed Palmer.

“It makes them happy. It puts a smile on their face.”

Those admiring the tree are encouraged to visit its official website and donate to ArtsReach, a local non-profit created to provide high-quality visual and performing arts training to kids.

“Turns out that Lynn who runs ArtsReach was a student of my grandmother, and my grandmother inspired her enough to become a teacher,” added Palmer.

A picture of many teacup's hanging from a tree in James Bay. A blue Teacup hangs from a tree in James Bay.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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