Ivania Gozzola and her daughters and daughter-in-law Tina Benedet, Tami Comuzzi and Ida Gozzola started coming to The Secret Garden over 13 years ago. Ida first found the place and went in for lunch. She told the women in her family about it and Ivania suggested they all go back for high tea and since that first year they have come back every August.
“This became our regular once a year birthday party to celebrate us as moms,” said Tina. “Throughout the years we’ve never ever missed a year.” There was something about stopping to reconnect for an afternoon as mothers without someone yelling ‘Mom’ every couple of minutes that became special for them. “We could talk!”
When their babies were really little they would bring them in a car seat or stroller, but now, “We don’t ever bring our girls or our boys; this is just our quiet time for ourselves,” said Tina. At the end of each tea they will each pick out a “loot bag” of tea to bring home with them. Creamy Earl Grey is a family favourite. As far as the treats? “We covet the lemon tarts and anything chocolate,” said Tina.
Pressed for a favourite tea memory in all those 13 years, Tina said, “Probably the very first one was when we first discovered [the Secret Garden]. It was so little and so quaint that we weren’t expecting anything.” After each August tea the women will pop into the local shops in Kerrisdale. “We’ve made that a beautiful tradition for the four of us and we hope our daughters do it when they grow up. They’re very close.”
Ada Slivinski manages PR, social media and special events for the Garden! She was a regular customer before joining us in 2016. Her talented team at Jam PR includes photographer Juli Talerico, who takes all of our gorgeous High Tea photos, and Alex Estanislao, who manages social media. We couldn’t do all of this without them!
Tiffany Picard has been managing the Secret Garden website and newsletter since 2014. Over the years our newsletter community has grown to nearly 12,000 readers. We love being able to keep in touch and share a little of the Secret Garden spirit with each of you!
Recently Janet Meares celebrated her 75th birthday in her happy place, The Secret Garden! Janet was one of the Garden’s very first customers over 20 years ago, and her grandson used to play baseball with Kathy’s son. Thank you Janet for all the happy memories at the Garden!
Meet Emma, one of our wonderful servers and team leads! Emma is from the UK, and studying to be a nurse here in Canada. One of her favourite Secret Garden teas is Nan’s Irish Breakfast.
If you’re interested in joining the Secret Garden team, click here to apply.
Shirley Smith and Kathy Wyder
Shirley Smith is a long-time friend of the Secret Garden. She is very skilled at sewing, fixing pillows at our old shop and making a green stuffed kitty cat that kids have enjoyed at the Garden for over 20 years!
You can still admire Shirley’s work at our store. Her kitty tea cozy and three plush cats watch over our shop every day!
Visit The Secret Garden Tea Company
Long-time customer Wendy Jarvis and her quilting group, at the old Secret Garden shop
Wendy Jarvis has been coming to The Secret Garden for close to twenty years. She first stumbled upon our place when out for a walk in Kerrisdale with her mother-in-law who was visiting from Toronto and they stopped in for soup and she said she remembers the lovely lunch and connection they had that day.
Over the years, The Garden became her quiet place, where she sought solitude and a few moments away from the busy life of raising her five kids and all the “bungee drives” as she called them – driving the kids to and from school and all of their various extracurriculars.
“It was kind of like a little refuge I found. I considered Secret Garden kind of like my little away time,” she said. She would come and read the paper, write letters or just sit with a cup of tea.
During a home renovation, The Garden became her office and she was here every day for a week. Now, she comes in for a pot of tea and an omelette or scone to reward herself for getting a bunch of errands done.
It’s also a regular gathering spot for her quilting group and they just celebrated one of the members’ 80th birthday here at The Garden.
“For me tea is a ritual,” she says, “the tea cozy, the china, the sugar bowl.”
Wendy says she’s met some great friends through The Garden over the years, other “frequent flyers” as she calls them, and we know we look forward to seeing her every time she comes in as well!
Do you have a Secret Garden story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!
Secret Garden customer Pam Grossman recently celebrated her 60th birthday over High Tea! She shared:
“We all lead such busy lives, thus in celebration of my 60th birthday, I thought the perfect way to slow down, relax, and truly warm one’s soul was to spend time with friends & family while enjoying tea and treats at The Secret Garden. What a wonderful, memorable way to spend a cold crisp Saturday afternoon!”
Happy birthday, Pam!
Do you have a Secret Garden story and photo you’d like to share?
Send us a note; we’d love to hear from you!
Vancouver Artist Karlie Rosin recently collaborated with The Secret Garden to create a beautiful flower and teacup display for our 22nd Anniversary event. On her blog, Karlie shared some lovely artwork and a review of her High Tea experience:
“There’s something so whimsical about The Secret Garden in Kerrisdale, Vancouver. I love going there because I feel instantly transported into a different world – one that is seemingly full of mystery, inspiration, great smells and tastes! Everyone is so nice over there- the customer service is truly phenomenal and the food & tea there is delicious!
There’s something special about being with great company, eating delicious food, and sipping on succulent tea. We had layers and layers of great tasting creations. I love seeing artistic passion being translated into many different fields- and you can tell that they are passionate about theirs!”
Read Karlie’s full review on her blog
We asked readers to share their favourite teatime memories on Instagram. Here are a few of the heartfelt stories you shared!
“Secret Garden Tea time with my high school besties are the highlight of my month. We’ve shared so many laughs, (happy) tears and cheese scones that I miss it the second we leave! ❤”
“The first time my girlfriends and I discovered High Tea was in high school 15 years ago. The place to go was of course Secret Garden! We felt so grown up drinking tea in actual tea cups with classical music playing in the background. I always order the lemon tarts, it’s my absolute favorite!”
“What stands out the most is High Tea with my daughter and my Mom, aka Nanny. We celebrated the completion of Preschool over high tea and apple juice! Nanny knows how much her grand-daughter loves her tea parties.”
Do you have a tea story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!