A cherry tree on Clarence Street in James Bay is decorated with tea cups in memory of Eleanor Palmer. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

PHOTOS: The story behind Victoria’s teacup tree

A cherry blossom tree in James Bay holds a special story behind its unique ornaments

The cherry blossoms are finally in bloom as spring takes over the city, but one tree in James Bay is sprouting – or rather, spouting – something else altogether.

A public tree on Clarence Street has dozens of teacups fastened to its branches, as well as the odd teapot or two.

They vary from fine porcelain cups painted with dainty floral decoratives, down to an owl mug that seems especially suited to being in a tree.

ALSO READ: ‘We are not cutting down cherry trees,’ Victoria city councillor says

While the cups might be mistaken for a quirky anomaly, their origin is something much more meaningful.

In 2009, Rory Palmer strung up a teacup as a tribute to his late grandmother, Eleanor Palmer.

“She was a feisty young women when she moved to Victoria from New Denver in about 1920. She was a well-loved teacher at Central School,” said Nairn Wilson, Rory Palmer’s wife. “She taught boys who weren’t [a] success in the ‘regular’ class room. She worked well past her retirement.”

Eleanor Palmer’s other passion was travel, and in the 1930s she started a tour company that she ran on her summer breaks.

(Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

The tours travelled throughout Asia, including Japan, China and the Philippines, where Palmer found an emboldened passion for tea. Her tours were wildly popular, with celebrities joining her in the summer.

A pamphlet produced for Eleanor Palmer’s upcoming 1933 tour in Asia. (File submitted/ Nairn Wilson)

“Her most famous guest was Orson Welles,” Wilson said.

Since 2009, neighbours and passersby caught on to the trend, and now many dozens of cups are all duly fastened with white zap-straps to the branches.

The tree stands right outside Wilson and Palmer’s front door, so that every day they can see a reminder as special as the woman it represents.

“When my husband thinks [of] his granny, it is having a cup of tea, her other passion,” Wilson said.

Just Posted

Saanich says it will take months to fix a sink hole that appeared during ‘Snowmaggedon’

Roads closed in the area after the sink hole first opened in early February

Derelict trimaran removed from Oak Bay waters

Boat has been aground near Oak Bay Marina for over five months

Confusing parking lot blamed for cars tipping into flowerbeds at Peninsula Canadian Tire

Tow and repairs cost thousands, engineer says drivers’ responsibility, Canadian Tire stay quiet

PHOTOS: Car Free YYJ entertains the masses in Victoria

Third annual fair where cars are banned goes off without a hitch

Saanich councillor ‘chose pragmatism over politics’ in opposing EDPA replacement

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau acknowledged her opposition shocked many of her supporters

WATCH: Barbers battle it out in Victoria

‘Barber Battle’ saw stylists and barbers from across North America go head-to-head

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Most Read