On Wednesday, October 28, I sent out our fall fundraising campaign, “Call to Action for HCP Supporters”. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the incredible response and am once again reminded of how fortunate I am to be the General Manager of such a beloved place.

After the first half hour, my eyes widened as we surpassed $1,000! At an hour, my jaw dropped when we surpassed $2,000! This morning as I write this, just a mere 55 hours after our email went out, I am moved to tears as we reach $6,500! I am so very thankful to all of you for your kind support, and also for your amazing comments. Here are a few selections:

“A small bit of help for one of our favourite places. Thank you for all the heart and hard work you put into the gardens. It shows!”

“Thank you for all you do.”

“I wanted to show my support for the beautiful HCP.”

“While I haven’t visited the gardens in ages, I really like knowing that you are there when I can visit. All the best.”

From all of us here at the Gardens at HCP – THANK YOU!

Please stay safe everyone and as always, we thank you so much for your continued support of this most magical and treasured place. If you are able to donate, please click here.


I still can't believe it's November already! When I came into work last weekend, there was ice in the birdbath and below-zero temperatures made me realize all the work left to be done. We are busy making sure all our “tenders” are inside with the heat set to come on when temperatures get chilly.

This time of year, collect as many leaves as possible both to mulch your garden and to stockpile for use next summer. The gardening season is winding down, but as long as you can still work the soil, it’s a great time to plant new additions to your garden, move things around and divide perennials. Lift and clean your dahlia tubers, and store in an area above freezing. Clean out the dying annuals from your containers and replace with cold-season plants like winter pansies, dwarf conifers and spring bulbs. Last chance to plant garlic and cover crops, and remember to look after the birds in your garden by providing additional food and shelter.

Our onsite plant sale area is now closed for the season, but online shopping with scheduled pick up is still available. Click here to shop online!

Next up is wreath making! A holiday wreath hanging on the door is a symbol of welcome. I really enjoy the scents, textures, and of course, the one-of-a-kind creations when you make a wreath by hand. I will have handmade wreaths from the garden available for sale in late November. You can preorder a wreath by email (headgardener@hcp.ca) or drop by and browse our selection.

Cheers to November!


Giles’ Jottings is on hiatus this month but will return.

Interested in a self-guided tour of some wonderful native plants? Check out the new W̱SÁNEĆ Ethnobotany Trail at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific! PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ has partnered with HCP to set up this trail, where beautifully illustrated plant signs by Sarah Jim Studio including SENĆOŦEN, English and Latin names guide you along a forest and meadow trail. Pick up a pamphlet in the HCP office (or download here) for a deeper interpretation of the plants, how to pronounce their names, and learn where they like to grow.

On October 21, Linda (Head Gardener) and I (Deborah) were fortunate enough to be invited to join the Pacific Horticulture College students on a tour of the W̱SÁNEĆ Ethnobotany Trail. The tour was lead by XEṮXÁṮEN Earl Claxton Jr. and I felt transported to another time as we were told stories by this respected SȾÁUTW̱ elder of how the W̱SÁNEĆ have used many different species of plants for food, material, medicinal and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. It was a tour I will never forget.

The W̱SÁNEĆ Ethnobotany Trail honours the incredible gifts of past, present and future knowledge keepers of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nations, and especially: the late Elsie Claxton, Dr. Earl Claxton, Sr., the late Dave Elliott, Sr., Dr. John Elliott, the late Christopher Paul, and the late Violet Williams.

The HCP would like to give our thanks to: Judith Lyn Arney, B.A., M.E.S. Ecosystems Director, and PEPAḴIYE Ashley Cooper, Program Director of the PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ Foundation, for all their hard work to make this happen. Funding for this project was made possible thanks to the Aline and Norman Fowlow Fund, administered by the Victoria Foundation.

Skip the malls and big box stores and let us help you check a few names off your list this holiday season. You can feel good knowing that every gift shop purchase helps support our garden maintenance and operations.

We have restocked our honey and now offer raw or creamed varieties! Both kinds are fresh, unpasteurized, and harvested from our onsite beehives. Pair with a stylish mug or tea towel for the perfect stocking stuffer.

Speaking of stocking stuffers, we also carry hand-poured candles from Victoria Candle Co., vegan soaps from Little Acre Soap in North Saanich, and our ever-popular HCP lip balm! These lip balms are made locally by Whiffcraft Naturals, with rose petals and lavender from our gardens to protect your lips in the cold weather. To keep you warm, we have HCP hoodies (both pullover or zip-up styles) and cozy knit toques.

With many of us spending the holidays away from our loved ones this year, a handwritten card is more important than ever. We have beautiful greeting cards from Morgan Warren, June Hunter, Ann’s Island Photography, and Florabella Fine Art Prints. (Florabella has sadly closed, so stock up while supplies last!) We are also carrying Morgan Warren’s book Nature on the Threshold and her 2021 calendar, which previews new characters from her upcoming third book. Both items are great gifts for any age.

To keep you safe, we are limiting the gift shop to one household (or bubble) at a time, and ask that you wear a mask while inside. Our gift shop is under new management and we are always looking for more locally made garden- and plant-related items, so if you have suggestions, please email Nikki (nwhite@hcp.ca) or tag us on Instagram (@hcpgardens).

Time flies - November is the final month of our Full-Time Level 1 & 2 program! With graduation coming up quickly, students are putting the finishing touches on big projects for Landscape Design and Plant ID. They have also enjoyed some field trips locally and up Island: Dinter Nursery, Westholme Tea Company, Cowichan Green Community, Emandare Vineyard, Butchart Gardens, Victoria Butterfly Gardens, Island View Nursery… just to name a few! A special ‘thank you’ to the Hardy Plant Group for funding the recent field trip up Island. Upcoming classes in the program include Hardscaping, Business Practices and unique Special Topics in Horticulture classes such as Ethnobotany, Mushrooms, Water Stewardship, and Bonsai.

Meanwhile, the Part-Time Level 1 students are completing Grading and Drainage and starting Soils, Botany, and Plant Health soon. PHC is also now accepting applications for the next Part-Time Level 1 program beginning on January 25, 2021. Please contact collegeadmin@hcp.ca for more information.

The college staff are working hard to prepare for the upcoming Level 3 Apprenticeship Training course starting on November 9th, followed closely by the Level 4 Apprenticeship Training course on January 11, 2021. For more information about these program options, please contact collegeadmin@hcp.ca or review https://hcp.ca/level-3-4-apprentice-technical-training/. Please note these programs will be blended delivery, with both online and practical components.

Coming up:

Integrated Pest Management Course (Landscape General Category)

Dates: November 17-18, exam on November 20

Registration: Phone (250) 479-6162

Custom IPM courses are available for groups. Please contact PHC for more information. All courses and exams are delivered with appropriate physical distancing measures for the safety of our staff and students.

Tea Cup Fairy Gardens

The mystique of having fairies in our gardens has us all intrigued! Learn how to incorporate tiny plants and elements of design into these little gardens for indoor use. We will explore the needs of plants and how to care for them in a miniature setting, while providing a magical place for wee garden visitors! Warning: These can be addictive and so fun to make! Parents are welcome to attend. Limited to 8 participants.

Date: Saturday, November 7, 2020

Time: 1:30 - 3:00pm

Age: 5+ years, under 6 must be accompanied by an adult

Fee: HCP Members $20 / Non-Members $25

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

Terrariums For Kids

Do you have a glass container to repurpose? Kids love to create miniature gardens, and terrariums are an easy way to add a plant to their rooms, to a shared family space, or to give as a gift. They take just a bit of care and offer a creative way for children to learn about plants and their needs. Bring along a glass container to upcycle (up to 20cm) and everything else is included. Parents are welcome to attend. Limited to 8 participants.

Date: Saturday, November 22, 2020

Time: 10:30am - 12:00pm

Age: 5+ years, under 7 must be accompanied by an adult

Fee: HCP Members $20 / Non-Members $25

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

Outdoor Fairy Gardens

Using a selection of winter hardy miniatures, we will create an outdoor fairy garden for your deck, balcony or garden. These will provide a fun reason to move your child’s play outdoors in the colder seasons and makes a great destination to check on during the fall/winter! Parents are welcome to attend. Limited to 8 participants.

Date: Saturday, November 22, 2020

Time: 1:30 - 3:00pm

Age: 5+ years, under 7 must be accompanied by an adult

Fee: HCP Members $20 / Non-Members $25

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

Wreath Making With Kids

Join us for a fun wreath-making session and take home a beautiful evergreen creation for your home! With a few how-to tips, and a couple pairs of hands, you will be amazed at how great these turn out. Each one is unique and special! Wondering why you should take the Wreath Making With Kids class and not bring your child to the adult sessions? Our expertise is in providing youth with fun and engaging activities, in a shorter length of time. We also work with smaller frames more suitable to smaller hands. Make this a new family tradition! Limited to 8 participants.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Time: 1:30 - 3:00pm

Age: 6+ years, all ages must have an adult to assist

Fee: $25 per child

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

Pro D Day Camps

Join us for an outdoor garden experience where we will busy ourselves with seasonal gardening activities in our very own Junior Master Gardener plot! There will also be exploration of the many natural systems that keep our gardens growing, arts and crafts and more! Limited to 8 participants.

Date: Friday, November 20, 2020

Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm

Age: 5 - 12 years (school age)

Fee: $40/child

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

Image courtesy of Courtney Clarke Photography

As the festive season approaches, we’re beginning to source greens for wreath making. We’re able to collect some from the Gardens, but we also look to our volunteers, past students, and HCP Members for donations.

Suitable greens include: conifers, such as cedar and juniper; evergreens, such as azara, senecio, and skimmia; and of course berried plants like holly. If you have suitable greens in your garden, please consider donating some to the HCP starting in mid-November. Due to the nature of the workshops, we require a large quantity (at least a 5 gallon bucket) of each type of plant. Smaller quantities are tricky because they run out partway through the class. Ideally, plants should be cut into branches at least 12” in length, but longer is even better! If you are taking down a tree or doing some serious trimming, we will also accept donations of large branches.
Greens can be dropped off at our service gate (Gate #4) on Quayle Road. Call ahead for someone to let you in the gate, or if you’re dropping off after hours, you can just leave the greens near the fence to the side of the gate (please do not block the gate). For very large quantities, pickup may be an option. For a full list of suitable greens or any questions, please contact our Community Education Coordinator (communityed@hcp.ca).

Plant Identification & Culture

Learn so much about plants with instructor 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, once a month. Please bring a mask.

Instructor: Diane Pierce


Saturday, November 21, 2020 (sold out, taking a waiting list)

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Time: 1:00 - 4:00pm

Fee: HCP Members $35.00 ($350 for 12 sessions) / Non-Members $45 ($450 for 12 sessions)

Registration: Online (click here for Nov or here for Dec) or phone (250) 479-6162

Holiday Miniatures & Cards with Richard Wong

Join Richard for this fabulous painting and social event in the Pavilion at The Gardens at HCP. Safely paint, learn and have fun together. Try something different as Richard shows you how to paint lovely watercolour miniatures on Japanese art paper that will double as original greeting cards. This is a great opportunity to learn and practice Richard’s special painting techniques and processes. All levels are welcome, including beginners. A sample image is provided here; Richard will have a number of new images for the class to work with.

Richard Wong is a local professional wildlife artist with international credentials.  His art is popular. His classes are fun. Learn more about Richard at www.richardwongwatercolors.ca. Please bring a mask.

Instructor: Richard Wong

Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Time: 10:30am - 3:30pm (There will be a 30min lunch break; please bring a lunch as Charlotte & The Quail is closed Mon-Wed)

Fee: $85 (includes all supplies)

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

Wreath Making Registration Now Open!

The holidays would not be the same without our wreath making workshops at The Gardens at HCP. Join us in a safe environment to create a beautiful wreath. In this class you will have access to a wide variety of beautiful materials, step by step instruction and a festive environment. Be prepared to get creative and have fun! This year, our classes will be held in the Couvelier Pavilion and participants will be spaced according to physical distancing requirements. Please bring a mask.

Dates: November 25 - December 6, 2020

Time: 10:00am - 12:30pm

Fee: HCP Members $45 / Non-Members $55

Registration: Online or phone (250) 479-6162

We need your help now more than ever to “Keep the Flowers Blooming”!

Generosity takes many forms, whether it’s through volunteer work, in-kind donations or financial contributions. We are doing everything possible to recover as much of our lost spring and summer revenue as possible. I personally would like to thank all of you so very much for your support as we transitioned to our new online system. Thanks to you, we’ve had great success with plant sales, donations, and your membership renewals, all of which are a very important part of our annual budget.

If you are able to donate, please click here.

Once again, thank you!


We have an account at the Return-It Bottle Depot! The next time you’re bringing in your refundables, please advise the cashier at the beginning of the transaction that you would like to donate the amount to The Gardens at HCP.

Please use our name and not the account number you may see on a past receipt, as the account number is different at each Bottle Depot location. The three Victoria locations are 4261 Glanford Ave, 655 Queens Ave, and 3961 Quadra St.

Visit the Return-It website to see which beverage containers are eligible for a refund.

Plants, People and Places: The Roles of Ethnobotany and Ethnoecology in Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights in Canada and Beyond (Nancy J. Turner, ed.)

Distinguished professor emeritus and prolific local author Nancy J. Turner has gathered together essays written by leading voices in environmental and Indigenous studies. This timely book gives us an opportunity to learn about the botanical and ecological knowledge of Indigenous peoples’ from individual plants to Indigenous laws. Section one describes everyday activities around plant use and being out on the land, plus some underlying philosophies and values, including food security. Chapter 7 looks at the history of southern Vancouver Island, and the relationship between landscape and culture. Other essays consider law, policy, education and reconciliation in the context of peoples’ relationships with plants and places. All together, this collection shows a broad spectrum of impacts that caring for plants and their environments can have on societies. Available to borrow from the HCP Library, with appreciation to Volume One Books for the donation.

It’s a new month; don’t forget to check your bright green 'Gardens at HCP' membership card to see if it has expired! Memberships are a great value and include:

Free admission to the Gardens

A free guest pass with each membership

Discounted rates for additional guests

10% off plants and gift shop purchases

Discounted member rates on Community Education Workshops

Discounts at select garden centres throughout Victoria

Free admission, free parking, or other discounts at participating gardens in the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program!

Revenue from annual memberships supports youth programming, horticulture student development, plants and supplies for garden improvements, and volunteer appreciation. You can purchase or renew your membership today online or by calling (250) 479-6162.

Our new database system allows you to manage your membership, donations and workshop registrations online. Current members and most past members have an account already.

When you attempt to log in for the first time, you will need to reset your password. Please note that the password recovery email expires after 48 hours, and may be in your spam folder. Don’t hesitate to phone us if you need any assistance.

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