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


505 Quayle Rd,
Victoria, BC V9E 2J7

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March 2019 E-News
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

News from the Gardens
Rhododendron Talk 
The Gardens at HCP presents :
Rhododendron Author Ole Jonny Larsen telling about: 
" Plant Hunting: Experiences of an Amateur"
Saturday March 16th 2019
Doors open at 5:30 pm
Programs starts at 6:00pm (end at 7:00pm)
Tickets are regular $40 or $30 for members of the The Gardens at HCP and  The Victoria Rhododendron Society. HCP/VRS members will need to confirm their membership at the door.
This event is expected to sell out quickly, so please register in advance! Tickets can be purchased by credit card over the phone at (250) 479-6162 or in person at The Gardens at HCP by debit, credit, cheque or cash.
Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle
Linda Petite, Head Gardener 
A group of HCP volunteers and I headed off on the Clipper on Wednesday, February 20th.
The garden show is a blend of spectacular display gardens, over 100 how-to presentations by top experts, DIY workshops, shopping and more!
Every year the Great Plant Picks (GPP) committee is there handing out posters and tempting us with the must-have plants for our gardens! The GPP is an educational awards program committed to building a comprehensive palette of outstanding plants for Pacific Northwest (PNW) gardens. Awards are based on the combined expertise of 40 horticulturists from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Take a look at their website and see if you agree with the 2019 list. 
A good time was had by all, and we are already looking forward to next year's show. ��
Pacific Horticulture College Landscape Design Student Project 2019 
Each year, PHC students work with members of The Horticulture Centre of the Pacific and the public who are willing to offer their properties as landscape design student projects.
If your property is chosen, two to four PHC students will be assigned to your property to consult, design and present their individual designs to the property owners. Please note that the project does not include the actual installation of a design in your garden.
The Landscape Design Instructor will review all applications and will contact the short-listed properties to set up an appointment to visit the property first hand around the end of June or beginning of July 2019.
Please read through the following points carefully to see if your property fits our criteria:
  • Your property is within the Greater Victoria Area (excluding Sooke and Metchosin)
  • We are looking for average sized properties with the need for a backyard (and possible) side yard design. The size and the complexity of the property need to be suitable for a student project.
  • You are available for consultation during late August - November. The successful design process requires communication between client and designer and your absence would make this impossible.
  • You are willing to make a $400 donation to the PHC Student Bursary Fund (a tax receipt will be issued for this donation).
Thank you for your time and consideration! If you are interested in applying for this project, please fill out this Landscape Design Application 2019 and email or drop it off at Pacific Horticulture College/HCP by June 14, 2019.
Searching for Youth Program Volunteers  
Would you like to share your passion for gardening with school children and youth? We are recruiting members to join our new  spring school tours team. Groups are coming out beginning early March and we could really use your help for April, May and June visits. Tours are usually held on Tuesday and Thursday each week, but it is not essential to be available for every tour. There will be an Orientation for volunteers Tuesday, March 12. The program is developed in advance and reviewed before the session for program delivery. Please contact Cheri for more details.
If you are interested please send an email to our volunteer coordinator, Cheri Le Brun - We would love to welcome you as a volunteer.
2019 Spring Plant Sale - Save the Dates!  
Earth Day in the Gardens  
What better place to celebrate the planet we call home than in a garden?

Meet and interact with earth-minded community groups, nonprofit organizations, green businesses and more at this "enviro expo for all things eco!" Admission is free and includes access to our nine acres of demonstration gardens to inspire you, as well as interactive children's activities to engage the next generation of environmental stewards.

Parking is complimentary but limited; please carpool or use alternative transportation if possible! If the lot is full, we ask that you respect our residential neighbours by using the overflow angle parking along Quayle Rd.

Interested in having a booth for your organization? We'd love to have you! Please email with "Earth Day" in the subject line and some information about what you'd like to showcase.
Happy 94th Trevor Jones! 
It is generally understood that having a hobby such as gardening is a good way to stay healthy all one's life and to live to a good age. Well, HCP volunteer, Trevor Jones, is probably a prime example of someone who fits that concept.
Although he had enjoyed gardening as a hobby, it wasn't until he was desperately needed for his skill with figures that he began to volunteer regularly at HCP. Eventually, that department was taken over by a very competent bookkeeper so that he was free to join "the boys" outside in the gardens.
We're not sure that he ever got around to actually "gardening" except to dig for a drainpipe or to plant a post. He was certainly seen at one time balancing on a tall ladder whilst helping to install the arches down the centre of the garden. He was also once seen standing on a stack of boxes (on the deck of a truck) to fix a roof on the storage sheds. Later, he was assigned to shoring up timbers under the Cottage (currently the Library). He has also at times assisted the electrician (an engineer) and the carpenter (a REAL carpenter!).
Having reached his 94th birthday this month, he is now in semi retirement but continues to be a great example of the skills that can be learned, the good friends acquired, and the health maintained by putting in a few hours every week at "the Hort."
Giles' Jottings    
So within moments of writing last month's jottings all those early signs of spring were buried beneath two feet of snow. Work in the gardens was brought to a halt and for a week we could only struggle with keeping enough parking clear to allow staff to come in to maintain a minimum service. As the snow slowly melted we were then subjected to three days of fierce winds which brought down more branches.
 However we have been fortunate to have a very willing new group of students and on two successive Tuesdays they worked wholeheartedly to get the gardens back to a semblance of normality, clearing considerable quantities of branches and debris and shovelling enough snow from paths to allow visitors to return.

Today the ground is still frozen but it is interesting to see how rapidly plants can recover. Woody plants are in many ways more vulnerable than herbaceous ones; once broken, boughs can only be cut away. Yet, despite being flattened, most herbaceous plants need only to re-establish water pressure in their cells to perk back up and appear hardly affected by their fortnight's burial. Snowdrops and cyclamen, hellebores and aconites, all are looking strong again. It has to be said though that Phormiums seem to be a plant unusually hard hit.

And now that the snow has receded, more spring flowers are daring to push up out of the soil. In the Winter Garden especially there are vivid blues and purples in the form of Iris reticulata 'Harmony' and Crocus vernus 'Remembrance' and across the path in the paeony beds pale yellow primroses are also beginning to bloom.

Bottle Depot 
One more way to support The Gardens! We have an account at the Bottle Depot!
Our account name is: The Gardens at HCP
How to donate on this account :
The Gardens at HCP
Please advise the cashiers at the beginning of the transaction that you would like to donate the bottles onto our account. Please note: Your friends / family / co-workers etc who will be donating to this account must only reference this account by account name and not by any account numbers that may be found on some of the account transaction receipts. Each depot will have a different account number for your account. 
You can donate at any of the Bottle Depot Branches: 4261 Glanford Ave, 655 Queens Ave, 3961 Quadra St
Membership Reminder 
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
  • 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.    
'Picture of the Month'
This month's 'Picture of the Month' comes from Layla Munger. She says "It was so good to visit the gardens and see new buds, spring flowers and bees! I have been paying more attention to the different bark designs but was in for a surprise when I looked at this when I got home.
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
Despite the snow days, PHC students spent the month of February diving into classes in Botany, Pruning, Communication and Supervision, Plant ID and Practical Skills. They spent an afternoon learning about the technique of bonsai, as well as an introduction to small engine mechanics. We appreciate the students' help with snow removal and storm clean-up in the gardens!
Additionally, PHC is offering Part-Time Level 1 Apprenticeship training starting in August 2019. This program allows you to pursue Horticulture training while also working full-time. For more information on this program, please see our website.  
Coming up:
Part-Time Level 1 Apprenticeship Training  
  • August 7, 2019 to December 18, 2019
  • Application deadline is July 22, 2019
Pesticide Applicator License Course (Landscape General Category)
  • March 20 and 27, exam on the 29
  •  Call HCP to Register
For more information on our programs, please contact Pacific Horticulture College at or call  250-479-6162 .
Youth Programs
Upcoming Workshops
Call to Register for Programs: 250-479-6162
Kid's Garden Club
Once a month we meet for seasonal gardening activities in our very own Junior Master Gardener 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: 9:30 am - 11:30 am (Saturdays 2019 - March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1, Sept 7, Oct 5, Nov 2, Dec 7)
Cost: $10/2 hr session
Ages: All ages welcome! Children under 5 need to be with a supervising/participating adult
Dates: February 15, April 12, May 10 2019
Times: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Cost: $38/child
Ages: 5 ½ years - 12 years
Registration: register at HCP office (250-479-6162)
These gardens are fun to create ... even parents enjoy mak ing them and here is a chance to participate with your child in a mini garden making session! We will make these take-home gardens for indoor/outdoor use, using some natural materials gathered from the garden. Adults are welcome to stay or drop off.
Date:   Saturday April 6, 2019       
Time :   1:00 - 2:30 pm
Ages :   5+ years
Fee: $15/child
Registration: register at HCP office (250-479-6162) 
For further information, please contact: 
Call to register: 250-479-6162
Upcoming Workshops
Grow Your Own Cut Flowers    
with Eiddwen Thomas 
There are lots of great reasons for having your own cutting garden including the reward, the scent, the beauty, nurturing our environment, bringing loveliness into our homes, giving joy to others, growing for a special occasion, participating in the local flower movement, being outdoors and getting some great exercise. This three hour course is for the recreational grower. It will include useful information and handouts on how to start and maintain a cutting garden over the growing season. We will discuss soil preparation, seed starting and care of seedlings, planting out, watering, dividing and growing dahlias, a list of top 10 things to grow including sweet peas, an overview of things we can cut in the early spring, mid, late spring and summer as well as how to ensure the best vase life. Eiddwen Thomas, Cartref Gardens is a farmer/florist in North Saanich. She has grown flowers commercially for 16 years on less than an acre and is passionate about growing for cutting.

Saturday, March 23 
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
HCP Members $55
Non Members $60
To register call: 250-479-6162 
Advanced Pruning Workshop   
with Ryan Senechal  
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. 

Sundays, March 24 & 31st 
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
HCP Members $90
Non Members $110
To register call: 250-479-6162 
Willow Hoop Rib Basket    
with Joan Carrigan 
This is a variation of an oval rib basket which has 2 built-in side handles often called a potato basket. We will be using willow for the hoop and a combination of dyed reed and seagrass for the weaving. This is a lovely storage and display basket perfect for the kitchen or holding craft supplies. Our basketry workshops are popular. Should the class be sold out when you call, please put your name on the waiting list as we may run a second class with enough interest.
Tools to Bring: sturdy scissors (like kitchen scissors), an old towel, spray bottle.

Sunday, March 24
9:30 am - 4:30 pm
HCP Members $120
Non Members $140
To register call: 250-479-6162 
Willow Chair Workshop
with Andrew Kent
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.
Saturday, March 30th 
9:00 am - 5 pm
HCP Members $250
Non Members $275
To register call: 250-479-6162 
The Art of Bonsai - Design & Care Workshop (Part 1) 
with Mark Paterson 
Come learn the art of bonsai with Mark Paterson, 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. 

Saturday April 6th
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Part Two - May 26th: Root Cutting.
Part Three - September 29th: Late 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
Meadowscaping for Biodiversity 
with Kristin Miskelly 
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.

Sunday, April 7th
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
HCP Members $45
Non Members $60
To register, call 250 479 6162
Willow Bark Triple Wall Basket  
with Joan Carrigan 
Willow bark is a lovely material for plaiting and twining baskets. This construction method which produces a triple layer of material creates a beautiful basket and offers interesting design possibilities. It is sure to be treasured. Our basketry workshops are popular. Should the class be sold out when you call, please put your name on the waiting list as we may run a second class with enough interest. Tools to Bring: Scissors, ruler, an old towel, spray bottle.

Sunday, April 7th
9:30 pm - 4:30 pm
HCP Members $120
Non Members $140
To register, call 250 479 6162
Getting Started with Backyard Beekeeping   
with Gordon Mackay 
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.

Sunday, April 14th
9:00 pm - 12:00 pm
HCP Members $25
Non Members $35
To register, call 250 479 6162
Plant Identification and Culture 2019
with Diane Pierce
  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.
 March 16, April 13 and May 25 
1:00 - 4:00 pm
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
N owadays we reap great benefits from the efforts of those brave people who journeyed to distant lands in search of new plants. However, now that we have such a variety of plant material to choose from, it behooves us to take a bit of trouble to find out just what the best growing conditions might be for each plant that happens to appeal to us.
One of the first things to be considered is where the plant came from, but that doesn't necessarily give us all the information we might need. For instance, even though a particular plant may have been first discovered south of the equator, we can't assume it was growing in a hot and humid jungle. It's possible it was growing three thousand feet up the side of a mountain! That might indicate to us that it likes cooler conditions and perhaps grows perfectly well in poor soil so long as it has good drainage. (Heavy clay and poor drainage would definitely need some amending if we were to grow it successfully on the Saanich Peninsula!)
Much enlightenment along these lines can be gained from "The Looking-Glass Garden - Plants and gardens of the southern hemisphere" by Peter Thompson. Just travelling with him to Chile, New Zealand, etc. is a pleasure even if we aren't "into" plants!
Should you have become interested in some plants that just happen to have originated in the southern hemisphere, you might want to go to one of the books we have in the library that tells us exactly the best conditions for a host of plants - even suggesting plants specifically for problem places (such "Perfect Plants for Problem Places" by Gay Search).
After becoming very competent horticulturists (even if a bit over confident at times!), we might want to venture into plantings that make our gardens stand apart from the neighbours'. Now that would require having a look into "Grow Something Different - Success with unusual plants" by Nick Wray.
So there you have it - three suggestions out of a collection of dozens of similar books you might use for inspiration and information in order to avoid exasperation . . . or even total defoliation!
The Gardens at HCP library is open:
9 am - 1 pm on Wednesdays
10 am - 1 pm on Saturdays
For more information please contact 
In case you missed last month's Bookend, you can find it here.