Summer Hours
March 1st - October 31st
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

505 Quayle Rd,
Victoria, BC V9E 2J7

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March E-News
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

News from the Gardens
The Doris Page Winter Garden 
The Doris Page Winter Garden is a highlight of many visitors to the Gardens at HCP. Seeing the beauty that can be accomplished gardening year-round in the Pacific Northwest is astounding. The Doris Page Winter Garden 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 for winter gardening in this climate. It continues to be developed and maintained by the volunteers of the DPWG group in conjunction with the Head Gardener at HCP.
The key elements of winter interest are colourful berries, brightly coloured twigs and bark, flowers, fragrance, conifers and branch structure and form. Take your time as you explore this garden, the details are breathtaking. Look for the gazing ball in the maple trunk and the river of Cyclamen coum and smell the fabulous scent of Daphne odora.

This garden is inspiring to walk through on the dreariest of days and is a shining star from January-April. We are so grateful to the Victoria Horticultural Society who continues to provide ongoing financial support as a memorial to Doris Page. 
Membership Renewals 
Check out that bright green Gardens at HCP membership card to see if it has expired!

Memberships are a great value and include:
  • Free Admission all year to the Gardens
  • Two guest passes and any additional guests for a discounted rate
  • 10% off on plants and purchases in the Gift Shop
  • Discounts on Community Education programs
  • Free Admission into the Arts & Music in the Gardens festival
  • 10% discounts at select plant centres throughout Victoria
  • Free admission to participating gardens in the American Horticultural Society 
  • Our monthly E-Newsletter
Membership at the Gardens at HCP supports youth programming, horticulture student development, supplies, plants for garden improvement, and our volunteers.

You can purchase your membership today by stopping in the office, calling 250-479-6162 or clicking here.

Partnership Spotlight - the Victoria Master Gardener Association 
The Gardens at HCP and the Victoria Master Gardener Association have an ongoing partnership that fulfills the mutually compatible mandates of the two organizations. The HCP and the VMGA agree to work as partners and seek opportunities to collaborate on the provision of horticulture education to our community.

VMGA is a volunteer organization whose members share a passion for gardening and the willingness to share this passion with the community.  Established in 2000, their mission is to provide the most up-to-date information on reliable and environmentally responsible horticultural practices for our region.

All members have completed the Master Gardener Basic Training program in Victoria or are Master Gardeners trained elsewhere.  To learn about becoming a Master Gardener follow this link... 

Their members live on southern Vancouver Island, including Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands and up the Malahat to beyond Mill Bay. VMGA is a proud partner and supporter of the  Horticulture Centre of the Pacific , a locally treasured garden and horticulture education centre. Visit  here  for more information.    
To contact the VMGA, email
Question of the Month
by: Linda Petite, Head Gardener
The Gardens at HCP is so lucky to have Linda as our Head Gardener. She has brought wonderful changes to the gardens during her tenure while is constantly sharing and teaching visitors, students, volunteers and staff. Here is a new segment of the Enews where she will share some of that invaluable information.

Question: What veggies can I start now?

Answer: If you are hoping to direct seed, I suggest peas, onion sets, salad greens, kale, chard and potatoes. V eggies that you can start indoors are brassicas, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and swiss chard. Any vegetable sown or transplanted out in March will benefit from a cloche. Prevent heat build-up by venting it during the day and prevent frost damage by closing it at night.   
Hellebore Sunday   
  Thank you to everyone who came to Hellebore Sunday - it was one of our most successful plant sales ever. Plant sales contribute to growing and developing our gardens. 
Giles' Jottings    
Thank you to Assistant Gardener Giles for sharing his jottings from England while he is away at his family home. 
I don't know if you recognize what is pictured in this photo; I took it while visiting in Somerset. One might initially think it was some form of witches' broom or maybe birds' nests.

Witches' brooms are deformities of trees where some damage, usually caused by an insect or a disease, stimulates lots of new shoots to grow from a single point, creating a compact mass of woody growth that may expand to considerable size.
I have also seen eagles' nests that can look very similar (though not here in England). Their accumulations of twigs and sticks develop into a mass several feet across.

But of course the truth is this photo is of trees invaded by mistletoe ( Viscum album). Mistletoe is a parasitic plant whose sticky seeds, deposited in bird droppings, attach themselves to tree branches, germinate and plunge their roots through the bark into the sap-carrying veins within. The plant feeds on this nutritious sap and develops an expanding network of short branches which carry the characteristic smooth oval evergreen leaves and white berries under which we kiss one another at Christmas.

This association with romance apparently dates back to Norse mythology but, whatever its origins, this potentially damaging plant can turn into a valuable money-spinner in winter. It is said to grow on over a hundred different species of trees but in Britain it is probably most commonly found on apple ( Malus), lime ( Tilia) and poplar ( Populus).
An American cousin, Phoradendron leucarpum, lives on deciduous hardwood trees from New Jersey to Texas, especially on oaks ( Quercus) and pecans ( Carya).

Both stems and leaves of the mistletoe are green, showing that it is photosynthesizing and making some of its own food. Yet it still constantly extracts sap from the branch on which it perches and a serious long-term infestation could be sufficient to kill its host. In most cases however its parasitism is less serious, possibly diminishing the nutrient supplies of the tree but, as can be seen in the photo, not apparently greatly reducing the tree's development. All parts of the mistletoe plant are poisonous but Native Americans are known to have used infusions of the berries to treat joint and muscle problems and modern medicine has further found that extracts of mistletoe can be useful in treatments of both cancer and high blood pressure.
Polytunnel Floors
by: Linda Petite
There is a lot that happens behind the scenes. We have three polyhouses that are workspaces for propagation, students, volunteers and more.  What else do you do in the poly houses on a wet winter day but put down a new floor?

Thank you to Mark for taking the lead and all the volunteers for your great team effort. It looks so nice in there, I feel like I need to slip off my muddy boots and put on my slippers. 
Good work all.

'Picture of the Month'

Thank you to Erik Lund for this picture of this beautiful spider and her web for our March 'Picture of the Month' in 2018. Erik is a professional photographer and took this photo on a family outing at HCP. 
Do you have a great shot from your visit to the Gardens at HCP?
Send your submission with a short description to  for an upcoming 'Picture of the Month'.

Pacific Horticulture College
For more information on registration, please call the office 250-479-6162 or email
  With the start of March, PHC students have settled in to their classes in Plant ID, Pruning, Botany and various practical skill experiences. Looking ahead into March, they will also jump into Irrigation classes as well as the S ustainable Food Production class, and working in the Urban Garden and Farm Garden. Stay tuned for some vibrant vegetables! Students are also involved with a major project around the Gathering Place - stripping back the gravel around the hardscaping area and seeding grass. This will provide another lawn area on the grounds, and it will look beautiful in the summer for events!

Interested in taking part-time Level 3 Apprenticeship Training (late spring to late fall) this year? Please email PHC at  or call 250-479-6162 to join our interest list.

For more information please visit the Pacific Horticulture College website

Youth Programs
Upcoming Camps and Workshops 
Junior Master Gardener (JMG) Camps
These popular camps are full of outdoor gardening activities and exploring nature around us. Our very own JMG Garden Plot keeps us busy as we plant, maintain and harvest year around. When we are not in that garden, we are exploring the many paths and plants around us, or busy with a variety of other nature activities and crafts.

JMG Pro - D Day Camps
Date: April 20, 2018                      
Please register at HCP (250-479-6162)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
JMG Spring Break Camp
Dates: March 19-23; March 26-29                             
Please register at Saanich Recreation (250-475-7600) 
Make Your Own Birdhouse Workshop
Our gardens depend on birds to thrive, so let's look at what birds need for nesting and create a safe place for them to raise their young. We will be using wood, hammers and nails to assemble our pre-cut kits. We also need big hands to help handle the tools safely, so parent participation is required.

Date: Saturday, Mar 17, 2018
Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Ages: 5 + years
Fee: $20/child

Starting Vegetables with Seed 
Learn about seeds, how they grow and what they need to become healthy thriving plants. We will be planting up trays of seeds for the JMG gardens as well as take home, so bring along your garden gloves. Don't forget about planning for our native pollinators too! They need flowers to keep them happy and we will include flowers along with our vegetable and herb seeds. Parent participation with children under 6 years of age.

Date: Saturday, Mar 17, 2018
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Ages: 4 + years
Fee: $15/child
Junior Master Gardeners KID'S GARDEN CLUB
Once a month we meet 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. Please pre-register at 250-479-6162 
Club Dates: 
9:45 am - 11:45 am (Saturday's 2018 - Feb 3, Mar 3, Apr 7, May 5, Jun 2, Sept 8, Oct 6, Nov 3, Dec 1)
Cost: $10/2 hr session 
Ages: All ages welcome! Children under 5 need to be with a supervising/participating adult 

Hippity-hoppity! Watch our Facebook page & website for information about an upcoming Easter Event at the Gardens at HCP!

Did you know ...
We host birthdays at HCP and would like to help plan your child's special event. Check out our website for more information or at to book your own celebration.

Upcoming Workshops

Healthy Soils Series: Soil Basics for the Home Gardener  
with Christina Nikolic
Sunday, March 11  
10:00am - 12:00pm 
Th is class can be taken on its own or as part of our Healthy Soils Series.
What kind of soil do you have in your garden? How can you improve your soil health? If figuring out how to care for your soil seems like a complex and daunting task, then this workshop is for you.
Instructor Christina Nikolic of the Organic Gardener's Pantry will teach you how to determine the soil types and how they function. You will learn about organic matter and living organism in the soil and how these impact plant health. You will also be introduced to safe and simple fertilizers and amendments to improve your soil health. The home gardener will leave with the basic knowledge and resources to make the best of the soil conditions in their own gardens.
Classes in this series include:
Soil Basics for the Home Gardener - Sunday - March 11 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Effective Microbes for the Garden - Saturday - April 7 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Compost Tea for the Garden - Sunday - April 29 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Selecting Fertilizers & Mulches for the Organic Garden
- Sunday - May 27 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Individual Classes - HCP Members $35/Non-Members $40
Entire Series (4 Classes) - HCP Members $100/Non-Members $130

To register, call 250 479 6162

Hoop House Workshop  
with Mark Mackenzie-Moore 
Saturday, March 17   
9:00am - 12:00pm 
Looking for a simple, low cost way to increase your garden yield in the shoulder seasons? Join Mark Mackenzie-Moore for a workshop on building your own hoop house. During this workshop, we will discuss different methods and material for hoop house construction -- from smaller open ended systems to medium 8 x 12 structures. We will then put our knowledge into practice by building a hoop house at HCP. This workshop can be taken on its own or in combination with our Hoop House Irrigation Workshop the same day. Please bring a waterproof jacket (in case it rains), notebook, and pencil. No experience necessary.

HCP Members & Non Members:
Per Workshop - $45  
Both Workshops - $75

To register, call 250 479 6162

Build Your Irrigation Workshop  
with Mark Mackenzie-Moore 
Saturday, March 17   
1:00pm - 4:00pm 
Attending our Build Your Own Hoop House workshop or already have a hoop house? Wondering where and how to start irrigating your veggies? Join Mark Mackenzie-Moore for a workshop on micro irrigation techniques and design for your hoop house. We will learn the basics of drip/micro irrigation, followed by hands on practice installing micro/drip irrigation in HCP's newly built hoop house. Please bring a waterproof jacket, notebook, and pencil. No prior experience necessary.

HCP Members & Non Members:  
Per Workshop - $45  
Both Workshops - $75

To register, call 250 479 6162

The Nature of the Native Plant Garden  
with Kristen Miskelly 
Saturday, March 24    
9:00am - 12:00pm 
Native plants in home gardens are not only beautiful, but also a way to help maintain local biodiversity, promote positive human connections, and foster an appreciation of nature. Participants will learn about Victoria's local ecology, including its abundance of unique plant species well-suited to home gardens, and the wildlife that depend on them. Edible, deer resistant, and drought tolerant species will be highlighted.

HCP Members: $45
Non-Members: $60 

To register, call 250 479 6162

Willow Chair Workshop
with Andrew Kent 
Sunday, March 25  
9:00am - 5:00pm 
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 register, call 250 479 6162

Basketry with Gourds 
with Joan Carrigan 
Sunday, March 25  
9:30 am - 4:30 pm  
In this workshop we will be exploring the use of gourds as a base for coiling. Gourds offer an extension range of decorative design possibilities which combine well with basketry techniques. Discussion will cover the preparation of gourds from the cleaning, cutting, painting and drilling. Next, we will coil around the rim of the gourd using pine needles or other local materials on hand.
Please add your name to the interest list if the class is full. If we have enough interest, a second class will run on Saturday, March 24.

HCP Members: $120
Non-Members: $140

To register, call 250 479 6162

The Art of Bonsai - Design & Care Workshop
with Mark Patterson  
Saturday, April 7   
9:00 am - 12:00 pm  
Come learn the art of bonsai with Mark Patterson, President of the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society. This is the first of a three part series. In Part one, Mark will teach you how to apply bonsai techniques to a 1 gallon sized plant which you get to take home with you. You will learn bonsai history, design and care. The class will also cover how to choose potential bonsai stock and how to use plant training to increase aesthetic value and monetary value to your new plant.
Part Two, May 26 will cover Root Cutting.
Part Three, September 29 will cover later season and Winter care.
HCP Members $140/Series or $60/Part 1
Non-Members $160/Series or $70/Part 1
To register, call 250 479 6162

Healthy Soils Series: Effective Microbes for the Garden
with Christina Nikolic   
Saturday, April 7   
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm  
Using probiotics in the garden? If you already like the concept of compost tea, you will love learning about Effective Microorganisms (EM). These cultures have similar health benefits in the garden as yogurt has in the gut. Explore how to make and use a fascinating microbial inoculant. Participants should bring a clean empty 1-liter plastic bottle with lid to take away a sample of their own.
HCP Members $35
Non-Members $40
To register, call 250 479 6162

Advanced Pruning Workshop
with Ryan Senechal   
Sundays, April 8 & 15   
9:00 am - 12:00 pm  
If you are a hands-on gardener hesitant to prune small trees and shrubs for fear of injuring or undesirably altering the appearance, this course with certified arborist Ryan Senechal is designed to give you the skill you need. In 2 sessions , basic pruning techniques will be reviewed and applied to advanced pruning strategies to encourage desirable structure, reduced maintenance & long term plant health. Your confidence and comfort will grow as you observe and practice field examples of pruning successes and common mistakes. This course will be outside, please dress accordingly and bring your secateurs. All other equipment will be supplied. Class size will be limited to ensure individual instruction.
HCP Members $90
Non-Members $110
To register, call 250 479 6162

Getting Started with Backyard Beekeeping Workshop
with Gordon Mackay    
Sunday, April 8    
1:00 - 4:00 pm  
Have you ever wanted to start keeping bees but didn't know where to start? Would you like to see improved fruit production in your garden along with the potential of having your own honey? Learn the basics of beekeeping with Gordon Mackay.

In this workshop we will cover the basics of how to start your first colony. We will look at the various parts of the hive and what is involved in setting up and maintaining your colony in your first year. We will talk about some of the potential challenges and ways to mitigate these. The favourite plants that honey bees are attracted to will also be covered.  
HCP Members $35
Non-Members $45
To register, call 250 479 6162

Meadowscaping for Biodiversity
with Kristen Miskelly     
Saturday, April 28   
9:00 am - 12:00 pm  
Are you a homeowner or land manager interested in creating a native wildflower meadow in place of lawn or field? Join Kristen Miskelly of Saanich Native Plants to learn what you need to know to create a successful meadow, including which native species to use, how to prepare and plant your area, and how to keep it thriving for years to come.

HCP Members $45
Non-Members $60
To register, call 250 479 6162

Twining with Soft Materials
with Joan Carrigan     
Saturday, April 28   
9:30 am - 4:30 pm  
Soft materials such as rush, sedge and flower leaves offer the basket maker a beautiful material for fine twining. We will be weaving a small bowl-shaped basket with a radiating spoke base, variations of twining for the sides and lovely twined border. We have plenty of access to these basket materials found either in our gardens or local ditches and ponds.
Please add your name to the interest list if the class is full. If we have enough interest, a second class will run on Sunday, April 29.

HCP Members $120
Non-Members $140
To register, call 250 479 6162

Healthy Soils Series: Compost Tea for the Garden Workshop
with  Christina Nikolic    
Sunday, April 29th  
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.
HCP Members $35
Non-Members $40
To register, call 250 479 6162

Plant Identification and Culture 2017
with Diane Pierce
 Mar 17, Apr 14 and May 12  
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.

The Bookend
Do you have a yen to grow some plants from seeds, or try some other method of propagating a favourite plant, but aren't quite sure how to get started? Well, do we ever have the perfect book for you!
Although we do have a number of books in our library on the subject of "propagation," the book we are particularly impressed with is called the "The Plant Propagator's Bible." Author Miranda Smith leaves no seed unturned! In fact, we don't just learn about starting plants from seeds but also how to root cuttings, split perennials, layering, and even grafting. There are lots of illustrations to help the novice.
At the back of the book there's an index (as one would expect) but there's also an extensive plant list, a hardiness zone map, a glossary, and an excellent plant directory (from "Abies" to "Wisteria"). The directory suggests best propagation methods in each case plus other information. . . and even potential problems!
This is one of those books that, once you have had a quick look, you are quite likely to dash out and purchase your very own copy - or maybe even get an extra one to get someone else inspired!

Library Hours: 
Wednesday - 9:00 to 12:00
Saturday - 10:00 to 1:00