Flourish, Hardy Plant Study Weekend, Victoria, B.C. June 23-26

I’m finally getting around to blogging about the stunning and overwhelming study weekend in Sidney/Victoria a few weeks ago. Held over 3 days (four if you stayed and did the public gardens in Victoria) with 7 speakers, 19 gardens and 6 plant vendors.  Where to begin?  The speakers were all excellent. A special shout out to James Alexander-Sinclair and Joe Swift who were informative, inspiring, witty, with that dry humour that only the British seem to be able to get away with. Their dual presentation on Saturday had us rolling in the aisles and reminded me of the BBC TV series Top Gear hosted by the similarity wonky, witty and dry Jeremy, James and Richard.  Very impressive was Rebecca Macklin’s session.  Rebecca directs biodiversity through the Brooklyn Bridge Park project.  Her talk was called “Post Hurricane Sandy: Lessons in Management and Vegetation Performance” which in hindsite may have done her a bit of a disservice. Her session was the least well attended.  I considered passing it up because I really wasn’t too terribly interested in the topic (although pretty important for us coastal folks!). Her standing ovation however was a testament to the brilliance of her talk and the knowledge and passion she brings to her job.  She was inspiring in her knowledge of pollination ecology, wildlife habitats, tree and plant biology and soil science. She’s a delightful science nerd!  One of my biggest takeaways was on the topic of turf. Yes, turf!!  (big yawn). I think originally in her career she agreed with that yawn, until she discovered that people actually come to public parks FOR the turf!  Playing, rolling, frisbee, sunning…the turf is what draws people. The plants and trees are a glorious bonus when they get there!!  The first half of her talk was a fascinating discussion of native plants, building gardens from scratch on industrial lands, successes and failures…the second half of her talk did touch on the lessons learned from Sandy.  Good to know for us coastal communities.

And then there were the gardens!!  It will be impossible to do any of the magnificent gardens we saw in those 3 days any kind of tribute or justice.  But I will try to post a few (!) pics of gardens, plants, views, etc. that caught my eye enough to click and/or piqued my interest for my garden’s future.  So, without any further ado….here goes some HIGHLIGHTS of the study weekend…for me. I will try to identify gardens as best I can. Apologies for any gardens or plants mislabeled.

Viv Davis & Ian Tresidder’s suburban oasis in Saanich impressed me with its ferns…this is Walking Fern aka Asplenium rhizophyllum poking through immaculate Hostas.
I saw this in a couple of gardens. A native apparently…Adiantum pedatum subsp. subpumiltum.  Gorgeous!
The garden of Janice Currie, Saanich. A new garden (!) and clearly Janice is a plant geek/collector.  I was especially in thrall of her shade gardens.  I ran into her at Far Reaches Farm display and she convinced me to buy a Amicia zygomeris!!  More later.
Quercus dentata pinnatifida aka Cut leaf Daimyo Oak
Aralia ‘Sun King’ thriving golden in the shade.  Need to get me some of these!
Syneilesis??  Or….a Helebore maybe….
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’. Got me one of these already. I managed to score a Podophyllum delavayi at the Market Place from Far Reaches Farm. ❤️
Shout out to Fiddlestick Pottery whose fiddlesticks were showing up in many gardens and luckily selling their wares on site. I got me three of them!!
I don’t know what this is, but I like it!  Aha!  Eucomis ‘Freckles’. Thanks Plant Ident!
Lots of alpine troughs.
Janice’s amazing crevice garden.
Mary Payne’s lovely Saanichton suburban Asian inspired garden. Her green ‘carpets’ were serenely inspirational.
Alliums and allium shadows in Bonita Elliot’s North Saanich garden.
Succulent pots.
Oh dear.  I may be confused as to which garden this is. So sorry!  I loved this Mediterranean courtyard.
And a green roofed shed beside the courtyard.
I seem to have a new found love of the architecture of alliums!
Buddleia globosa – gorgeous dried blooms
Buddleia globosa against sky.
I loved this courtyard.
More tree against sky shots
Pretty!  Add rocks to a discarded nest. I got me one of these now!!

That’s about it for Day 1 and part of Day 2!  The rest of Day 2 and 3 needs their own post!!



Author: joannewesterby

Although I lived in Ontario for 25 years, Vancouver Island has always been home to me. 15 years ago we bought a "little house on the prairie" in Brant County, just outside Hamilton, Ancaster and Brantford, Ontario. Over the years, with a lot of sweat, determination, luck, skill, frustration, elation and endurance we turned that 2 acre clay field into an amazing oasis...as chronicled in Through Leaves. When we recently retired we immediately came back 'home' to the Coast. We have settled in beautiful central Vancouver Island at the edge of Nanaimo on 1/2 acre with a mature shrub garden adjacent to a ravine that winds its way up to Westwood Lake and eventually Mount Benson. Although the garden is mature and gorgeous...it is very overgrown, too homogenous for my liking and needs my personal stamp! I am dizzy with the possibilities!!!

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