November 1st - March 31st 
the Gardens will be open
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

505 Quayle Rd,
Victoria, BC V9E 2J7

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February E-News
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

News from the Gardens
Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown
February 23 to 26

The Gardens at HCP is taking part in the 2017 Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown event presented by Attractions Victoria.

Last year, this event drew many local tourists to the Gardens for the first time and they were pleasantly surprised to find this secret garden so close to home! Many have returned since and others have shown their support by taking out memberships, signing up for Community Education courses, and attending our plant sales or Arts & Music Festival.

A $15 VIP card will give you access to more than 50 of Victoria's best attractions and activities. Some offer free admission, such as the Gardens at HCP, while others offer discounted rates. What a great way to have a winter getaway and explore new or favourite venues at an affordable cost. For more information about the attractions or the VIP offers, click here.

HCP members can always visit the Gardens at HCP at any time during the year, however, this may be a great time to bring a neighbour or a relative who hasn't been here before. 

Hope to see you here!

Saanich Seedy Saturday was a Huge Success!

Halliburton Farm's Saanich Seedy Saturday was an enjoyable and full day, well-attended by over 500 visitors to the HCP. The variety of vendors provided a great mix of produce, jewellery, art work, plants, and yes, seeds! 

Lori Weidenhammer's two presentations on attracting bumblebees to your garden were both full to the rafters. Additional copies of her book "Victory Gardens for Bees" are still available in the HCP giftshop. 
Thank you Halliburton Farms and the Municipality of Saanich. We look forward to working with you again next year.
Victoria Hardy Plant Group Study Weekend
The Hardy Plant Group is thrilled to be hosting the Hardy Plant Study Weekend here in Victoria next summer, June 23-25, 2017.

What is a Hardy Plant Study Weekend?    It is a three- to four-day conference that rotates among the Hardy Plant Groups in the Pacific Northwest, including the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon in Portland, Northwest Perennial Alliance in Seattle, and the Hardy Plant Groups of Vancouver and Victoria.  

All gardeners are invited to join us for total immersion in the wonderful world of gardening. It's your chance to indulge your passion for everything gardening. We will be offering the opportunity to see and hear international and national speakers, tour local gardens open especially for this event, and shop for plants, garden art, and beautiful books. We are also planning a Saturday evening fete at The Gardens at HCP.

The theme for the 2017 Hardy Plant Study Weekend is Flourish: Celebrating People, Plants and Progress.  It will be held at the popular Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.

The Study Weekends are very popular. Most conferences sell out in less than a month after registration opens.  For more information, click here.                    

Save the Date: Hellebore Sunday at HCP is March 12
Our annual Hellebore Sunday is on March 12 and as usual we will be selling a variety of hellebores and their companion plants. The event runs from 12:00 to 3:00. Mark your calendar. More information in the next e-News.                  

Brian Minter Presentation on March 6
HCP's friend Brian Minter will be presenting "Celebrating New Trends in Gardening" on Monday, March 6 hosted by the Gordon Head Garden Club. 

Time: 1:30 pm
Location: Salvation Army Citadel, 4030 Douglas Street, Victoria
Cost: $20
Tickets: Purchase at Dig This or Garden Works or by contacting Sharon Jack (250.708.0713) or Delcie McLellan (250.370.0389).         

Winter Gardening
by: Linda Petite, Head Gardener
The Doris Page Winter Garden (DPWG) is designed to highlight the potential for winter gardening by showcasing plants with winter interest.  Beautiful blooms, delightful fragrances, colorful twigs and bark, striking foliage, and noteworthy structure provide year-round interest.

The DPWG was established in 1985 with funds from the Victoria Horticultural Society.  It is named in honour of Doris Page, who spent decades demonstrating the potential of winter gardens in this climate. The VHS provides annual funding for the garden and a group of our dedicated Wednesday volunteers maintain it.

Doris Page introduced Hellebores to the Victoria area and these plants have always played a key role in this garden.

Come take a stroll through the garden and inhale the fragrances to shake off the winter blues!!

Welcome Megan & Jo, Thank You Dana
by: Anne Kadwell, General Manager

Change helps us grow!
You will see some new faces on the team this coming year. Dana Gage,  our Events/Office Manager, has moved out of town with her family to a wonderful acreage where she can practice some of the many horticultural skills she learned while employed at the HCP. We thank Dana for all her hard work, her ability to stay organized and calm with the many hats she wore, and for leading the Gardens at HCP to winning Vancouver Island's Best Outdoor Wedding Venue in 2016.

We have 2 new part-time employees and soon there will be a t hir d  in March!  Jo Volek, a past volunteer, is our new Office Manager. Jo brings fresh new  leadership to the office with a wealth of know ledge in process man ageme nt and experience working with a diverse group of people. Coming from a teaching background, she brings many transferable skills to the HCP hub.

Megan Stacey , our new Event Manager, just moved back to the Island from Van couver. She is outgoing with a depth of knowledge and experience in sales, events, and hospitality . If you have a moment, ask her about her expe rience at the Walt Disney Company. 

Reggie Illy, our College Administrator, will be leaving in March to cultivate her horticulture caree r. She will not be far away as she will continue to volunteer here at the HCP. 
Looking forward to another fun, exciting year ahead. Remember when you have a moment to pop in to say hi to our new team members!

Giles' Jottings
Giles is on a 6-month sabbatical at his family farm in the UK. His jottings will bring us to a garden far away.

Now, as February begins, the days are beginning to lengthen and it is still light at  5pm . But the weather continues wintry. We are enduring hard frosts overnight and the newly emerging snowdrops ( Galanthus nivalis ) look rather frozen in the early mornings.

On the days when the temperature gets above zero, the clouds come down hiding the mountains from view and the steady rain turns every stream into a torrent.

The sheep are all down in the lowland fields, eating off the remaining grass and preparing for lambing.

An attractive feature of this time of year however is the rusty orange-brown of the bracken. From an original Norse word ( the Vikings were some of the earliest settlers in this region ), bracken is the common name for the widespreading fern, Pteridium aquilinum. Unlike most ferns, bracken dies back in winter leaving vivid red-brown fronds that offer a highlight of the winter landscape. As a very prolific moorland plant, it occupies a wide band between the green fields of the valleys and the bare rocky mountain tops, painting a rich red swath across the hills.

However, its role in traditional culture may be drawing to a close. Valued in the past, it was gathered for animal bedding, used for tanning leather and brewing beer, and the new spring growth eaten as fiddleheads. Modern attitudes view it quite differently. Now it is considered a pernicious invasive, crowding out other moorland plants, grasses, heathers ( Calluna, Erica, D abo ecia ) and low -growing bilberries ( Vaccinium myrtillus ). It i s toxic t o cattle and sheep, a possible carcinogen and harbours sheep ticks that spread Lyme Dise ase. Farmers and landowners are encouraged to  eliminate it by regular cutting and crushing of 
the stems and year by year its presenc e is being reduced.  It should not be 
forgotten  though that it is the preferred food source of many species of
butterflies and moths and it will be a sad winter day when the orange hillsides are gone.

Highlight on Volunteers -  Propagation Group
by: Cheri le Brun
Some of our visitors may be curious about where the plants we love to view in the Gardens or buy at the HCP plant sales come from. Once again we can thank our dedicated volunteers for propagating most of them. Thousands of new plants are propagated annually by our volunteer Propagation group.  

Every Wednesday these volunteers work behind the scenes in our polyhouses planting seeds and cuttings, lovingly tending them and finally potting them up when they are large enough. The polyhouses are a busy place with plants in various growth stages being moved from heated areas to tables and finally outdoors to harden off. 

The volunteer Lead Steward, Delphia Scratchley, was one of the founders of the group in 2006 and has volunteered with the HCP since 1999. When the group first started, they worked in the small greenhouse near the main entrance which burned down in 2011. Delphia was a teacher before she retired and I was surprised to discover that four other members of the group - Alimay, Carole, Mel and Adele - were all teachers too. 

The two newest members of the group are Nina and Faith who started volunteering in January this year. Nina is a graduate from the Pacific Horticulture College at the HCP and Faith is an Organic Master Gardener. 

We look forward to discovering some new varieties this group has propagated for us at the plant sales this year. 
Well, the Whatzit? fooled a few people last month! One thought the leaves looked like Salal, another  guessed Verbena, and some people didn't send in a guess at all because they were flummoxed! However, Maureen and Carolyn guessed it was a Viburnum of some sort, though only Glen and Linda said that it was a V. tinus - the correct answer.
By the way, one of the correct answers came from a person who recognized those V. tinus leaves all too well, having prepared many cuttings for rooting last fall.  Volunteers in HCP's "propagation department" have an opportunity to meet plants at eye level and become well acquainted with them during the course of their development.

See if you can tell us whatzit below?  Send your answer to  enews@hcp.ca

Pacific Horticulture College
For more information on registration please call the office 250-479-6162 or e-mail collegeadmin@hcp.ca.
Welcome to Our New 2017 Class!

Welcome to our new students in the full-time Landscape Horticulture program.  We have a full class of 18 students and have noticed their coffee consumption has gone up considerably since they arrived!   They've done a great job in the Gardens so far cleaning up the front entrance  beds ... and then the snow came and covered it all up. Other than that, w e're off to a good start!


Upcoming college courses and events:
Pesticide Applicator Course and Exam (Landscape General Category):

Course: Saturday &  Sunday, April 22 &  23,  9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Exam:  Monday, April 246:00 - 9:00 pm

Cost is $400 including books, $280 without books.

Please note that there will be a limited number of seats because we only have a small classroom available for these days.

There is also the option to sign up for the exam only. The ost is $110 per person.

Youth Programs

To Register: Call 250 479 6162 or email youthprograms@hcp.ca

Upcoming Programs

Once a month the JMG Kids Garden Club meets for seasonal gardening activities in our very own JMG Garden Plot! Our growing season starts early and there is always lots to do!! When the weather is not quite ideal, we can work indoors to start seeds, learn to propagate plants, plan our home gardens, build trellising, and lots more. When the weather cooperates, we spend every minute creating garden beds, amending soil, mulching, planting, weeding, staking, and watering! These are great skills to get your garden enthusiast growing their own food at home. There are lots of take homes, from seeds to plants and harvests whenever available.

CLUB DATES: Saturdays from 9:45 am - 11:45 am on March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, Sept 9, Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 2
COST: $10/2 hr session or $65/set of 8 sessions
AGES: All ages welcome! Children under 5 need to be with a supervising/participating adult 

Call 250-479-6162 to register or e-mail youthprograms@hcp.ca if you have any questions.


Have you thought about starting your own vegetable garden, but don't know where to begin? Would you like to see how easy it is to create your own growing space, plant and maintain it? Would you like to get your whole family involved? Enjoy eating fresh & local produce without the hidden chemicals. This family gardening program is a great way to learn and practice the basics over a period of weeks while you develop your own home garden. There will be ongoing support including a site visit from a Master Gardener. This 8 hour (2 hrs x 4 session program) will combine some classroom time with lots of hands-on fun! Handouts will accompany the sessions for quick reference. For more information on each of the four Growing Together sessions, click here.

FEE: $100/family unit (up to 2 adults and 3 children)  
DATES: Saturdays: April 8, April 22, May 6, and May 13  
TIME: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Call 250-479-6162 to register or e-mail youthprograms@hcp.ca if you have any questions.


This year we will focus on growing our own food in our gardening camps, including exploration of resident beneficial/pests, soils, organic gardening practices, growing food, and harvesting. We will create a garden, weed, plant, seed, harvest, and sample from the garden. There will be lots of growing things to take home and cultivate for later harvesting. This program is designed for kids who LOVE to be outdoors, are curious about their environment and want to grow their own food. There will also be garden crafts to make for our gardens on site and to take home!

          WEEK #1 March 20 - 24 (9:00 - 4:00 pm)                $180/5 full days
          WEEK #2 March 27 - 31 ( 9:00 - 4:00 pm)                $180/5 full days

Registration is through  Saanich Parks & Recreation .


Starting with Seeds is a kid-friendly seed starting workshop in 2 parts! The first shows a few different ways to germinate seeds. The second gives a chance to plant the germinated seeds into containers. There will be lots of seedlings to take home and grow for transplanting into your home garden or containers. The plants will be a mix of easy-to-grow flowers and vegetables that are compatible.

Saturday, March 3  (Part 1) 1:00 to 3:00 pm            
Saturday, March 11  (Part 2) 1:00 to 3:00 pm

Fee: $35/child (materials provided)                                     
Ages: 3+ (under 5 with an adult) to 12 years

Call 250-479-6162 to register or e-mail youthprograms@hcp.ca if you have any questions.


Whether indoor or out, miniature gardens are the cutest. Join us for a fun session creating a tiny garden to take home. This can be an indoor or outdoor garden, you choose. There will be a selection of plants and containers to choose from. 

Saturday, March 18     1:00 - 3:00 pm

Fee: $25/child (materials provided)                                     
Ages: 3 to 12 years (under 5 with an adult)

Call 250-479-6162 to register or e-mail youthprograms@hcp.ca if you have any questions.

Upcoming Workshops

To Register: Call 250 479 6162 or email communityed@hcp.ca

Pruning Ornamental Plants
with Patty Brown
Wednesday February 20, 6:30 - 9:00 pm
Friday, February 22, 6:30 - 9:00 pm
Saturday, February 25th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

An understanding of how and why plants respond to pruning will help you get the results you want with any plant in your garden. Patty Brown, Pacific Horticultural College instructor will take you through the steps, theory and techniques of pruning. The workshop consists of two lectures and one hands on session to practice what you've learnt.

Members $95 
Non-Members $115.00 
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

The Backyard Orchard Workshop
with Ryan Senechal
Saturdays, March 4 & 11
9:00 am - 12:00 pm 
This workshop is for those serious about cultivating fruit and nuts in an urban space. Ryan Senechal will cover: selection of cultivars, planting, staking & training, soil, nutrients & watering, pruning, plant health & cultural controls, grafting & propagation. The focus will be on apple, cherry, pear, plum, peach, kiwi, Carpathian walnut, butternut, hazelnut, fig, blueberry & raspberry.

Members $90
Non-Members $110

To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Compost Tea for the Garden Workshop
with Christina Nikolic
Sunday, March 5th
10:00 am - 12:00 pm 
First, what is compost tea, and why is everyone raving about it? Compost tea is the controlled extraction of microorganisms and nutrients from a small amount of high-quality compost and additional nutrient sources into water. The tea can be sprayed on the soil and plants in order to inoculate the landscape with these beneficial microorganisms. Learn about the benefits of compost tea and how to brew it with Christina Nikolic from the Organic Gardeners Pantry. Each participant will take home some compost tea to use in their own gardens. 

Members: $25
Non-Members: $30

To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Willow Chair Workshop
with Andrew Kent
Sunday, March 12
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Join artisan Andrew Kent from The Willow Way for this full day workshop. In one day, with Andrew Kent's expert instruction, you can make and take home your own Bent Willow Rustic Chair. This is a great introduction to rustic building. Learn how to make a square frame from pieces of alder & work with different sizes of willow to create your chair. All tools will be provided.
HCP Members $250
Non Members $275
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Grow Your Own Cut Flower Garden
with Eidwenn Thomas
Sunday, March 26
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Learn the secrets of growing your own flowers for cutting and arranging with floral designer, Eiddwen Thomas. Eiddwen is the owner of Cartref Gardens, a commercial cut flower farm in North Saanich. Growing your own flowers can be a very rewarding and creative experience. You can select which flowers you want to grow according to your own style and taste. Having your own flower garden will ensure fresh quality for the very best of flowers for your home, special events or for gifting. Growing your flowers organically can also provide benefits to the local environment. This class is part of a seasonal series and can be taken on its own. Participants in the Spring class will learn what to do in April/May for their own cutting garden. This session will include what plants can be grown in the Spring for cutting, starting your own seeds, locating the site for your cutting garden and preparing the soil. 

HCP Members $45
Non Members $60
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Cedar and Willow Bark Cat's Head Basket
with Joan Carrigan

Sunday, March 26
9:30 am - 5:00 pm
This basket is woven with cedar bark spokes and willow bark and is woven in a continuous twill pattern. We will shape the basket in the style of the Cat's Head basket associated with the Shaker tradition. These baskets start with a square base and are woven in a unique way to achieve a rounded shape. The rim of this basket is a decorative variation using yellow cedar bark three strand twining.

HCP Members $120
Non Members $140
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Plant Identification and Culture 2017
with Diane Pierce
February 18th & March 18th
1:00 - 4:00 pm 
Learn all about plants with Diane Pierce, expert gardener, designer and writer. Diane will introduce you to 25 new plants in each session. You will learn Latin and common names, plant descriptions, cultural requirements, general maintenance and landscape uses. This is an ongoing course and can be joined at any time, all year long, one Saturday a month.
Members $35.00 per session
or $350 for 12 sessions
Non-Members $45.00 per session
or $450 for 12 sessions
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

To Register for classes call 250 479 6162 or email communityed@hcp.ca

The Bookend
This is the time of year when the first hints of spring fire up the imaginations of both experienced and would-be gardeners. But after examining a seed catalogue or two, or perhaps having read a Helen Chesnut  column, it may begin to dawn on beginners that there's a lot to be learned before dreams can come to fruition.  Obviously, one way to go is to strike up a conversation with a neighbour who seems to know a thing or two about the subject.  Some people like to encourage beginners and willingly give of their time and knowledge; others would prefer to be left alone so they can get on with all the chores of a busy season!
So the preferred solution is to check your HCP library as we do just happen to have a number of books on the subject of seeds that we might suggest. Two that come to mind are  The New Seed Starters Handbook, by Nancy Bubel, and Seeds: the ultimate guide to growing successfully from seed, by Jekka McVicar.  Of course, you can always go out and buy an armload of books but, as with everything, those with the best information and layouts do tend to cost a bit. Obviously, by starting with a large financial outlay, one can soon use up the savings of having grown your own veggies!