Volunteers (left to right) Michael Beljankski, Rone Sinclair, and Jayme Hames work in the sun-filled gardens. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Volunteers (left to right) Michael Beljankski, Rone Sinclair, and Jayme Hames work in the sun-filled gardens. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Gardens at Horticulture Centre of the Pacific celebrate 40 blooming years

Staff, volunteers invite the public for open houseopen house

The Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP) mark 40 years with a two-day celebration with a public open house on Nov. 8 and 9.

The Gardens opened in 1979 when several community members envisioned a place to each people to garden professionally. They approached Mel Couvelier, then mayor of Saanich and namesake of the HCP pavilion, about turning the patch of Crown land into a demonstration garden and college.

Couvelier was happy for it to become a “centre for excellence in horticulture,” Linda Petite, head gardener.

On Nov. 7, 1979, the B.C. government issued a certification of incorporation and the HCP became an official non-profit.

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The 40th anniversary celebration will include guided tours of the gardens and historical displays created by volunteers, and a Then and Now slide show in the pavilion from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Scrapbooks, photo albums and news clippings from over the years will also be on display for attendees to see what the garden was like when it first opened, Petite explained.

The guided tours will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day and will be lead by the Victoria Master Gardeners. Space is limited so advanced registration by phone or email is required. Guests are welcome to tour the gardens on their own at anytime through out the day.

“It will be a celebration of accomplishments and what has become of the gardens over the years,” Petite said proudly.

When it first opened, the garden was run entirely by volunteers, some of whom still help out and will be in attendance on Friday and Saturday. Petite noted it will be a good opportunity to speak to people – some in their nineties – who remember the garden in it’s early stages.

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The HCP staff and volunteers are looking forward to the next 40 years for keeping up with gardening trends, teaching and sharing.

“The sky’s the limit, ” said Petite.

Admission is by donation and all proceeds will go towards maintenance and supplies to keep the garden up and running.

Anyone interested in the guided tours can contact reception at 250-479-6162 or by email at reception@hcp.ca to register.


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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com