Winter Hours
November 1st - March 30
10:00 am - 3 pm

505 Quayle Rd,
Victoria, BC V9E 2J7

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November E-News
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

News from the Gardens
Wreath Making & Holiday Classes 
   The end of the year is a wonderful time in the Gardens - although many of the plants throughout the garden are dormant at first glance, there is a magic of walking through the quiet, peaceful garden and seeing bursts of life. But what really makes this a special time is friends, family and strangers coming together to create!
Our most popular program is wreath making. Linda Petite (Gardens at HCP Head Gardener) and Finlay Nicolson (Pacific Horticulture College Instructor) will show you how to create beautiful, decorative Christmas wreaths. The wreaths will contain an assortment of evergreens, berries, cones and bows. These wreaths will last and look great on your front door throughout the festive season! This is a great workshop for friends or family members to take as a group.   Linda will lead classes on Saturdays and Finlay on Sundays. Participants should bring garden gloves and secateurs/shears to class. These workshops fill up quickly so sign up soon. If you are looking to create something different, scroll down to the 'Community Education' section of this newsletter for some more, unique programs.
Linda says: " Every year when we offer our wreath-making classes, I am always so amazed at how unique and different each participant's wreath is. Take a stroll around your garden and be inspired by the possibilities of fragrant conifers, colored stems, berries, seed heads, cones, moss and even flowers. Nature's finest decorations are just outside your door, so go outside and collect something from your own garden to use in your holiday décor." We have a recent blog post about ideas to use what is in your garden to make your decor more environmentally friendly.  
Looking for a Christmas party idea for staff, family or friends and don't want to clean up? Come to the Gardens at HCP for a Wreath Making Party! $500 for a weeknight booking or $300 for a weekday afternoon booking plus $40 per person to make the wreath. We supply tables, chairs, linens, as well as everything you need for the wreath making class including instructors. You will just need to bring your food and drink (you are responsible for obtaining a liquor license if you want to serve).
And for those of you who aren't able to make their own wreaths we will have handmade wreaths available in late November to pick up at the Gift Shop. 

Call 250-479-6162 to register for a workshop or e-mail to find out more about hosting a Wreath Making Party. 

Trumpeter Swans 
If you haven't noticed that the trumpeter swans are back on Viaduct Flats you must be too focused on your gardening work. In the 1980's, when I was keeping a fairly detailed log of activity in the HCP Conservation Park, I remember recording November 4th as their first day of return for many years. The first time I noticed them on the Flats this year was on October 24, and I think the early arrival is the result of our exceptionally dry fall. They are almost always gone by April Fool's Day.

About a quarter of the 23,000 North American trumpeter swans overwinter on Vancouver Island, and in most winters this includes about a half dozen that have settled into lodging on the Flats. By the 1930s, the total North American population of trumpeters was down to about 100 individuals, and their restoration is a significant success story. We would be happy to hear from any of the birders who visit our Viewing Platform regularly to learn how many have settled in this year as overnight visitors.
Hoke Holcomb
Ethnobotany Trail Lead Steward
Holiday Shopping at the Gardens at HCP  
There's always something new at the Gardens at HCP's gift shop, and what better time to see that than right now, before your holiday headache becomes a full-blown merriment migraine!
Open every day from 10:00am to 3:00pm until December 17th, you can find gifts for everyone on your list in a tranquil environment while shopping locally and supporting a non-profit organization. 

We're excited to be launching giftable memberships this holiday season! Now available in our office, you can purchase a membership for a friend or family member and they'll receive a beautiful card with your handwritten message and a voucher with detailed instructions on how to redeem their membership card(s) the next time they visit. Watch for more details about this on our website blog soon.
Winter Hours 
Don't forget Winter Hours at the Gardens at HCP are now in effect, 10 AM - 3 PM. Call the office during extreme weather to confirm opening times.

'Picture of the Month'
Thank you to Penny Pitcher for our first 'Picture of the Month'.
"Finally, finally, I managed a visit to HCP.  It has been on my 'To Do' list since the day we moved here five years ago.  What an amazingly beautiful place - truly.  I love all of the pathways leading off from the main entrance to all manner of types of gardens.  I am trying to learn the names of flowers and so appreciated the labels.  HCP has just a really really nice atmosphere.  Next time I plan to have my husband drive me there and I will spend the days crawling around taking photos.  It was difficult trying to decide which one to attach to this letter - believe me, I have more!"
Do you have a great shot from your visit to the Gardens at HCP?
Send your submission with a short description to  
Pacific Horticulture College
For more information on registration, please call the office 250-479-6162 or email
In the weeks leading up to the end of the 2017 program, PHC students have been busy with garden installations, final landscape design projects and honing their skills for post-graduation. The "new" Permaculture Garden, located down by the orchard near the lower field, is looking beautiful with a new planting, mulch and a small bridge over the streambed - stop by for a visit. Hard to believe that the students graduate on November 17 th!

Following the completion of the Level 1 and 2 program, a full time Level 3 program begins on November 20th. We look forward to welcoming the Level 3 class!

In addition, PHC is hosting a Red Seal Exam Preparation Workshop on November 25th for those interested in writing their Red Seal exam.

Meanwhile, the college staff are busy gathering applications and interviewing future students for the 2018 program.

For more information or to register about any of the above programs, please contact PHC at or call 
Youth Programs
Fall Programs 
PRO-D Day Camp at HCP
This day camp balances outdoor and indoor activities for a fun garden experience. DO you know a young gardener who really enjoys digging in the soil and growing things? Keep your child exploring the natural environment through our seasonal garden activities in the Junior Master Gardener Plot. We grow food all year round and enjoy harvesting and tending these gardens while observing the many contributors to the garden. At our November camp we will be harvesting celery, kale and chard; complete our garden winterizing and make some art to display in the garden for winter interest. We will also be focusing on our overwintering birds, their migration and winter habitat needs and creating feeders for them.
**The next Pro-D-Day Camp will be held Friday, November 24 from 9-4. Please register at 250-479-6162.
Making a Terrarium Garden Workshop
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes. Get creative as you learn about the needs of little plants for indoors, and what better place to place them, but in an up-cycled glass container. Bring along a glass bowl, vase, jar or other container and see what you can create for your room �� . (Containers should measure no larger than 20 cm in size).  
Date: Sunday, November 5, 2017
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Ages: 5 + years
Fee: $15/child
Wreath Making for Kids Workshop
Come out and create a beautiful wreath for your home or gift giving this holiday season. Bring an adult along to give you a hand! Check out our selection of greenery and natural materials to make it unique! Please bring along your own gloves and hand pruners for your own convenience.
Date: Saturday, December 2, 2017
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Ages: 7 + years
Fee: $15/child (attending adult is included)
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.

Spotlight on Volunteers

To Apply to be a Garden or Office Volunteer e-mail Cheri at 
Volunteer Highlights 
There i s a magical little garden at the HCP known as the JMG Garden. You will find this garden next to the Farm Garden and close to where the Folly is located on the Lower Field. The JMG Garden has mostly edible plants and is used as a teaching garden for families, children and school groups. The JMG Garden Club do their monthly gardening activities here, and it is a space where children can actively garden.
We touched base with a couple of the volunteers and learned a little more about the people who create and maintain this special place. Paula McCormick is the Lead Steward. Paula wears several hats as she is also the School and Youth Programs Coordinator at the HCP. Outside of the HCP, Paula is a coordinator for the Grow-A-Row program for Sooke Regional Food Chi. To read more about the program visit Paula is also a Master Gardener and assists with hospitality at many of their events. When Paula is not in the garden, she is enjoying time with her family and her two Bernese Mountain x Golden Retrievers.
Sandy Joinson also volunteers in the garden. Sandy is a retired nurse with an instinct for nurturing things, including nurturing children's passion for growing things. She enjoys being outdoors and loves all aspects of gardening - even weeding! Sandy also volunteers at children and family events at the HCP and helped at the Harvest Festival this October. Outside of the garden, Sandy loves spending time with her four grandchildren and hiking. She is also a member of the Rhodo Society. 
Next time you are at the HCP, stop by and see the delicious edibles that little hands have helped to grow along with our volunteers. If you are interested in registering your child for the JMG Garden Club or other activities, visit our website for more information: 
Upcoming Workshops

Pop-Up Mushroom Workshop  
with Shannon Berch 
Tuesday, November 7th
1:30 PM 
Enjoy a walk with mushroom expert, Shannon Berch. Shannon has a PhD in Mycology and is the founding member of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society and the Truffle Association of BC. All proceeds to the Ethnobotany Trail at the HCP.
$30 per participant   
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Handmade Herbal Gifts 
with Lily Fawn 
Sunday, December 3 
10:00 am - 12:00 pm 
Just in time for the holidays this herbal workshop is designed seasonally. Treat your friends and family this Christmas to a more personal and rewarding experience by preparing homemade gifts. All natural, healthy and made with love. Learn hands on how each gift is made and receive a booklet with easy to follow instructions and recipes. P ractical demonstrations and hands-on participation. You even get to take home a sample of your creations! Holiday Spice Tea and Treats complimentary during class time. Please add your name to the interest list if the class is full as we will run an afternoon class as well if there is enough interest.
HCP Members: $60
Non-Members: $65
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Festive Table Centrepiece Workshop
with Patty Brown 
Saturday, December 16  
10:00 am - 12:00 pm 
Garden and floral designer Patty Brown will teach you how to create an exquisite holiday centerpiece using fresh greens and natural materials that will become the focus of conversation not just decoration. You will learn about the tools, supplies and floral products required to create your own arrangement in this hands on workshop. Take home a one of a kind centerpiece that will last for weeks with minimal care. Bring secateurs (hand pruners). All other materials supplied.
If the class has filled up, please put your name on the interest list as we may run a second class if there is enough interest.
   HCP Members: $25
Non-Members: $30
To sign up, call 250-479-6162 or come into the office.

Plant Identification and Culture 2017
with Diane Pierce
Nov 18 and Dec 2 
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
If plants could talk, they would have some great stories to tell us about their family "trees." Since they aren't able to talk (yet!), one thing we can do is read what some conscientious individuals have learned and are able to tell us through the books they have written. . . you know, those things we used to use for entertainment and information.
John Fisher was a writer who did a lot of research. His "The Origins of Garden Plants" is full of items of interest. Being a diplomatic correspondent, Fisher was able to travel extensively in a number of foreign countries. This gave him an opportunity to combine his interest in flowers with business.  
So, thanks to Fisher, we learn that the Rose of Sharon  ( Hypericum calycinum) was introduced to England by a George Wheler who, while taking a break from Oxford in the early 1600's, joined a party headed for Constantinople.. . . and that's where he came upon the Hypericum calycinum. (He was later knighted for the discovery. Plant people got recognition in those days!)
If you should need to get a conversation started one day, you might want to tell the story of how the Handkerchief (or Ghost) Tree got brought from China to England in 1911. Should there be a really serious gap in the conversation, you could go into the story of John Tradescant (also back in the 1600's). It could take some time to tell of the seven months he spent on the Mediterranean aboard a ship sent to suppress the slave trade. During that time he must have done some hiking on shore as he picked up Gladiolus bulbs, a Tamarix anglica (native of Portugal and Spain), Rock roses, and an evergreen Viburnum tinus. And that is just a part of the list!
Another book along these same lines is "Plants that Changed our Gardens" by Mea Allan. It contains a chapter about Peter Barr who hybridized daffodils and a chapter about the Tradescent family. And the chapter about David Douglas is a "must read" for all British Columbians!
With these suggestions for starters, you should have enough reading material to make the winter days pass quickly.
Library Hours: 
Wednesday - 9:00 to 12:00
Saturday - 10:00 to 1:00
Note: The HCP Library will be closed as usual over the holiday period and through January. Get stocked up with reading material before the holidays!