A time to celebrate, we gathered with Brenda, Lauren and Dayna of Tanglebank Gardens and Brambles Bistro. Meeting on the morning of their first annual Christmas Brunch, we joined the trio as they welcomed the holidays, while enjoying their favourite Brambles dishes. Full of laughter and holiday cheer, we then spent our time outside exploring the Tanglebank Gardens and in their charming gift shop, discovering their winter finds.
TFV: What’s the story behind the name Tanglebank Gardens & Brambles Bistro ? TB: The name Tanglebank stems back from the original farm that began in 1920 in Saskatchewan. It is named for the tangled bank of Saskatoon berries that grew wild on Arnolds Grandfather’s farm. Tanglebank is a fourth generation farm with the fifth generation now growing up gardening and learning to make barista style coffee at the ages of 9 and 7. Audrey and Gianna. The farm moved to Abbotsford in the 40’s where Arnold’s grandfather then farmed dairy and pigs. They moved to the current location on Downes Rd in the late 70’s, where Arnold’s mom Linda raised poultry. In 1996, Arnold and Brenda started Tanglebank in its current form as a Garden Nursery.
TFV: How have you seen Tanglebank Gardens grow over the past 22 years and what have you learned? TB: Over the years we have seen many changes in the horticulture industry as lifestyles and interests change. Tanglebank opened its doors as the nursery you see today in 1996, as a specialty perennial nursery. The gardens grew out of the desire to show our guests how the plants grew and how to use them in the garden. As time went by, we added the gift store in the old gardening shed. As our children grew, so did our desire to incorporate their passions into the business and in 2012 we opened Brambles Bistro on site where our second daughter, Kayla the chef in the family show cased her talent. Lauren her older sister and her would sit around the table and collaborate on what Lauren the horticulturalist in the family would grow for the kitchen. Since then, Chef Kayla has moved to Alberta and is raising her family of 4 and Chef Dayna has taken over. I have learned that life is constantly growing and changing and we need to constantly be looking for ways to bring in the next generation and their interests / passions to keep it alive and relevant.
TFV: Who joined us for the shoot, and what are their roles at Tanglebank Gardens & Brambles Bistro? TB: Arnold is missing from the photo shoot. Brenda Falk is the Owner, Garden Designer and Horticulturalist, Lauren Willms is the Horticulturist and grower of amazing fruits, veg and garden plants. Also responsible for the amazing retail displays both in the garden and the gift store, Chef Dayna Rogers overseas the menu creation and the day to day.
TFV: What Christmas decorations/products are you proud to carry? TB: At Tanglebank we love Christmas and our gift store carries wonderful German collectibles that reflect our German heritage, (there is also a little, English, Scottish, and Mediterranean in there). Inge Glas are beautiful hand painted, mouth blown glass ornaments that are formed from the largest collection of antique glass moulds some dating back as early as 1850 when the first Christmas ornaments were created. As well we carry authentic handmade Nutcrackers by Christian Ulbricht.
TFV: During our time together you mentioned how you make your own ketchup, what inspired this? TB: We believe that everything in our bistro should be made fresh with love. We do not use pre purchased dressings and sauces here and everything is made with fresh herbs from our gardens. In the summer, even the tomatoes come from our greenhouse. We try to grow as many fruits and vegetables to add to cooking . We even grow oranges for the marmalade, lavender for the French Toast and Lavender Lattes, Roses for the Rose Petal Cordials in summer.
TFV: Brenda, what inspired you to expand Tanglebank Gardens and open up Brambles Bistro? TB: Our Children. Having four children that all wanted to be involved in the gardens, we were always looking for ways to make it fun for them. This meant allowing them to showcase their creativity and talents to keep them interested. Kayla, our second born, loved and was fascinated with the very large vegetable garden that we had when she was growing up. That and a fascination with Victoria magazine where food was romanticized, lead her on her food journey. Lauren’s constant fascination with the outdoors and growing plants ( She was always creating a new garden somewhere on the farm with the help of Dad or Grandma Linda) lead to the new vegetable gardens, orchard and the bee hives where our bees make wonderful honey with wildflowers, lavender, blackberry and blueberry found here.
Gardens are meant to be shared and Brambles was a great way to share our families passion with one another, as well as our guests. Tanglebank is about generations celebrating life together, We have the wonderful joy of celebrating and hosting celebrations including engagement parties, baby showers, wedding showers, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, graduations, work parties, and even end of life celebrations of life and anything else you can think of to celebrate.
TFV: Dayna, what’s your favourite dish to make? TB: That’s easy. The Huevos Rancheros. Its packed full of wonderful garden fresh veggies, fresh herbs from the garden and a wonderful secret ingredient. It tastes fantastic and is full of flavour and good for you too.
TFV: Lauren, what is your favourite season at the nursery? TB: Spring. After a long winter it is always heavenly to see that burst of new life. Fresh shades of green everywhere and flowers beginning to colour the landscape.
TFV: How are you both able to collaborate with Brambles Bistro and the food they use? TB: A favourite pastime of ours is to sit in front of the fireplace while enjoying lattes and perusing over seed catalogues to discuss what new varieties to try this year, as well as pouring over cookbooks together for inspiration.,
Wreath Making or Gingerbread House Building? Wreath making. You can’t beat the fresh scent of the woods as you snip and wrap fresh greens onto a bed of the finest softest moss.
Peppermint or Cinnamon? Peppermint. Nothing beats a warm pepperminty hot chocolate with fresh made peppermint marshmallows.
Freshly Bought or a Freshly Chopped Christmas Tree? Freshly bought of course. Growing a garden is what we do.
Winter or Spring? Spring. Although we love the rest that winter brings, spring brings new life and new hope for the future where we can start to create all the dreams we’ve been dreaming all winter.
TFV: How have you seen the community of Abbotsford change and grow over the years? TB: Abbotsford has gone from a small community in the middle of farm land to a grown up small city. It is exciting to watch it become a place where people don’t just pass through, but actually seek out to visit. With so much going on, agri-tourism, wineries, breweries and a blossoming downtown core; Abbotsford is a place people should definitely check out. Just this past summer we had a couple visiting from Texas. They were excited to tell us that We were on their bucket list. Now that’s exciting.
TFV: We heard you’re involved with the Mount Lehman Sojourns and what events can we expect from them as we approach Christmas? TB: The Mount Lehman Neighbourhood is a beautiful and scenic part of the Abbotsford scene. With wineries, breweries, gardens and Christmas stores this neighbourhood is one to watch out for. Lots of things for the family and Friends throughout the seasons.
TFV: What is your favourite Christmas activity to do here in the Fraser valley? TB: Why the Mount Lehman Sojourn of course, with a visit to all my favourite breweries, and wineries, a stop at Glendas Christmas Cottage and to finish it off lunch at Brambles ( In the summer it would include a visit to Tuscan Farm Gardens) and to round it off with a stay at Brookside Inn.
Beautiful wreaths, delicate ornaments and plenty of gifts to choose from. Tanglebank is the perfect space to explore, after savouring every bite of your meal from Brambles Bistro. Open year round, we can’t wait to return and see what experience the spring season offers.