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

Esquimalt café cooks up connections for all abilities

A Kinder Cup focuses on positivity, inclusivity and connection

Free bike exchange program available to Greater Victoria kids

The Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford offers free bikes for young learners

Central Saanich sparks up new opening burning bylaw

New bylaw offers ‘balanced approach’ between status quo and tougher provincial regulations

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

PHOTOS: Hundreds gather in downtown Victoria for Extinction Rebellion climate protest

The rally is the kickoff to the Global Climate Strike Week of Action

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base

B.C. First Nation signs agreement to return its land on Vancouver Island

The land on the east coast of Vancouver Island will be returned to the We Wai Kai Nation

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Most Read