Salt Fall/Winter 2014 - page 8

Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri
Carolyn Camilleri
Jeffrey Bosdet
Jennifer Kuhtz
Janice Hildybrant, Jo-Ann Loro
Kerry Slavens
Athena McKenzie
David Alexander, Cinda Chavich,
Andrew Findlay, Laura Langston,
David Lennam, Shannon Moneo,
Danielle Pope, Greg Pratt,
Alex Van Tol
Jeffrey Bosdet, James Brown,
Lennox Chambers, Simon
DesRochers, Derek Ford,
Galyn Franklin, Joshua Lawrence,
Jo-Ann Loro, Gary McKinstry
All Canada Photos p. 31, 39;
iStock p.19; Stocksy cover;
ThinkStock p.14, 16, 18, 19, 22,
65; Wikimedia Commons p.30
Vicki Clark, Cynthia Hanischuk,
Charlsey Sperl
Jennifer Kuhtz
Bev Madden-Knight
to contact salt
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Taking in the sunrise at one of the
many oceanside communities
Photo by StephenW. Morris/Stocksy
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One of the most surprising
discoveries I
made about myself after I moved to the Island is that I
am a gardener. I don’t mean just popping a few plants
in the ground and calling it done — I mean really
getting out there and
. I didn’t plan on it; I
moved here for the scenery and the weather and had
no aspirations to grow anything.
I had been here a few years already when I got
the “calling.” It wasn’t in the spring or summer when
the garden centres are bustling. It was early January.
I went to the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific to pick up some information for an article
I was writing and decided to take a little walk. Now, I had been to all the “big” gardens by
then — Butchart Gardens, Hatley Castle, Finnerty Gardens, Government House, Beacon
Hill Park — and, of course, I loved them all, but I had never been to HCP.
HCP has what they call “demonstration gardens.” There are 34 of them now, intended
to demonstrate landscaping techniques suitable for this region. One of them is the Doris
Page Winter Garden. There, under the Douglas firs, complete with identifying signage,
were Pulmonaria saccharata and cyclamen, witch hazel and Sarcococca, dozens of plants
and shrubs that thrive here in the winter. It was the hellebores that won me over. I wanted
to grow those.
Back up to the HCP bookstore I went and I bought what would become my gardening
bible: Carolyn Herriot’s
A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening
. And I got started right away.
As it turned out, winter is a wonderful time for gardening. It changes the meaning of
“evergreen” from pines and firs to rhododendron, azalea, ceanothus, viburnam, skimmia,
daphne, laurel, and camellia. Winter-hardy vegetables like kale, chard, broccoli, broad
beans, and, under a frame, lettuce re-define the “growing season.” The soft, damp soil is
easy to dig, making this the ideal time to dig new flowerbeds, rearrange perennials, and
plant trees. Even compost is easier to deal with. And the lawn? It’s so green and you don’t
have to cut it as often. Some of my happiest hours are spent puttering in a garden — even
in the rain.
Best advice I ever got about winter gardening? Get a good pair of rubber boots and a
flashlight for evening search-and-destroy missions if the plants are getting nibbled.
But to get to my point, you never know what you will discover about yourself on the
Island. You could be a kayaker — goodness knows that’s a common addiction here. Maybe
salmon fishing will be your thing. A visit to an artist’s studio could inspire your own artistic
inclinations, or perhaps all the fresh local foods will unleash your culinary skills. Or you
could be a gardener, too.
Sure, the Island is a paradise of beautiful scenery and mild weather, but it is also a place
that inspires new discoveries — about yourself.
editor’s note
by carolyn camilleri
Carolyn Camilleri
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