At the beginning of October, we posted a visit from Sandy Peters of the BC Council of Garden Clubs. Below is the article she wrote for the November/December Bulletin of the BCCGC.
Riviera of the Sunshine Coast: on the beautiful rocky shores of the Salish Sea, a mild climate, almost non-existent snowfall, sunshine galore and vistas to ocean, sky and mountains, sandy beaches, wooded fishing holes. Truly stunning: Powell River, home to the Powell River Garden Club, 160 warm-hearted members.
The PRGC functions as a dynamic force of gardeners from all walks of life. Having settled on solid rock and sand, these gardeners have had an enormous challenge. As a result, there exists, among the PRGC members, an accelerated problem-solving gardening culture. Part of their credo is: buy “tried and proven” specimens grown locally but also experiment, constantly share ideas, oﬀer advice and ask questions in a very affable social manner. All this in Canadian Plant Hardiness Zones: 7b to 9.
The PRGC has been gifted with many brilliant organizers. One, of whom I first met through an email, Margaret (Past President) quickly arranged a series of garden visits involving afternoon tea, socializing and pictures. Her own garden is a creatively terraced steep slope of sandy soil, charming vignettes, amazing edibles, hostas, flowers, vines and an ancient gorgeous gnarled eucalyptus tree. Asked of the club's success, she explained, “the people form a cohesive unit” which responds to requests from club members as well, as from the Powell River Community at large. Whether it be design advice or hands-on gardening help, one need only put up the call and “people show up . . . “ as they did, to help create the Native Plant Garden at Lang Creek Salmon Hatchery in conjunction with Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Powell River Salmon Society. There I met some of the many people involved: Heidi, Gail, Tommy, Michael, John, Lane, Liz, ad infinitum.
We then ventured out to Gwen's and Doug's, who have successfully created a wonderful “park-like” garden, with room for native plants, reflecting pond, bamboo “roundels,” rotating barrel composters and gazebo. In the works: a giant swing with salvaged timbers from a very old larch. Doug, says he's only responsible for hard labour,” having had to bring in and put in place raised beds of soil before gardening could begin. As you will see from the photos, there is some engineering and artistry going on as well. The view: breath-taking!
Gwen is presently responsible for Garden Visits for the entire club, one off the peninsula and several on, and also a visit to Welcome Harvest Farm on Texada Island, from which the club receives organic fertilizers.
At Gwen's, I was able to ask a few members why PRGC is special to them:
Liz: Everyone works well together, there's a good feel; also, we've relegated club business (the minutes and treasurer's report) to a back table at meetings, thus giving first priority to plant-growing discussion.
Joyce: The energy, it's the best social event even if you don't garden.
Sandra: You don't have to have a garden, use containers. The coming together of different ideas and new techniques, nothing is set in stone.
Michael: The Spring Plant Sale.
Rena: I love the girls and guys of the club, everyone is unique.
Lexie: Garden visits, programs, exercise, wonderful speakers within the club and from outside.
Denise: I wasn't a gardener, but received a free membership from a former employer, and have been a member for 8 years: learning about fruit trees and raised beds.
Carola: The club is welcoming, friendly and involved; excellent speakers.
The next garden, on the beach belonged to Michael and Rob, a captivating collection of rhododendron, clerodendrum poppy, hydrangea aspira, rugosa roses, abelia, evergreen honeysuckle, toad lily and charming garden sculptures.
The following visit, two side by side gardens, on an extreme slope down to the water's edge. Liz and Eric on one side and Rena and Lane on the other. More unbelievable views, gardening feats and rare plants including a choke cherry from Manitoba.
The rest stop on the way back up the vertical incline saved us. Whew!
A cordial and sincere thank-you to all of the wonderful PRGC members who took the time to open their gardens, share their ideas and allow me to take photos.
Check out their blog: powellrivergardenclubblog.blogspot.com