Dear Helen: Two large fuchsia bushes that have grown vigorously and bloomed generously for 20 years in my garden are now (end of April) looking dead. What might have happened?
Hardy fuchsias, depending on the variety and their location in a garden, are often late to leaf out. The hardiest among mine began leafing out around two weeks ago. Some others look as though the harsh winter has caused them to act like herbaceous perennials, dying to the ground to regrow from the roots in spring. This commonly happens to some hardy fuchsias after a severe winter.
The timing of the cold weather was unfortunate this year. Temperatures remained mild through January, followed by the sudden shock of hard freezing weather that lasted for weeks. Gardens with minimal snow cover during the cold period will have suffered the most damage.
Clean away the dead stems and watch for fresh growth emerging from the plant crowns. If none appears in the next two or three weeks, you may have to accept that the plants have been winter-killed entirely.
Dear Helen: Do you always buy transplants for the pansies and violas you write about? Are they difficult to grow from seed?
I almost always manage to both grow and purchase transplants. I make indoor seedings early in the year, usually in late January or during February, for spring plants and again around mid-July for early autumn transplanting into containers for the patio. In some years, I don’t get around to the summer seeding, and in both early spring and early fall I always check out local garden centres for a few additional varieties for the patio display.
Pansies and violas are among the easiest plants to grow from seed. Follow directions on the seed packets. Stokes Seeds lists a dazzling number of varieties, including the newest releases.
Nanaimo meeting. The Nanaimo Horticultural Society will meet this evening at 7:30 in the First Unitarian Fellowship Hall, 595 Townsite Rd. Jo Canning will speak about Soil Amendment. Information at 250-758-6783.
Floral art. The Mid Island Floral Art Club will meet on Thursday, May 9, a 2 p.m. in St. Stephen's Church Hall, 150 Village Way in Qualicum Beach. Theme for the afternoon: Have a go at Land Art. Information at 250-752-1858.
Show and sale. The Victoria Cactus and Succulent Society will hold its annual Spring Show and Sale on Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Church of the Advent, 510 Mt. View Rd. in Colwood. View displays of members' prize plants and choose from among a variety of desert plants including many that are hardy outdoors.
Plant sales on Saturday:
• Compost Education Centre, 1216 North Park St. in Victoria, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Organically grown transplants for vegetables, flowers, herbs, heirloom tomatoes, native plants.
• St. Michael and All Angels Church Fundraiser, 4733 West Saanich Rd. in Royal Oak, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Flowering baskets and pots, tomatoes, dahlias, vegetables, annuals and perennials, strawberry pots, rhubarb, shrubs, tools, pots, vases, refreshments, gifts for Mom.
• Gordon Head Garden Club, 4201 Tyndall Ave. (former Gordon Head United church), 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Variety of plants and garden related items. Members on site to advise.
• Garden Babies for Birthright at St. Elizabeth Church, 10030 3rd Ave. in Sidney, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at St. Patrick’s Church, 2060 Haultain in Oak Bay, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Both sales feature deer resistant plants and other kinds of flowering shrubs, perennials, herbs and vegetables.
• Ladysmith Saltair Garden Club, Aggie Hall, corner of Symonds St. and 1st Ave. in Ladysmith, 9 a.m. till sold out. Perennials, annuals, shrubs, house plants, vegetables, used garden equipment, Mother's Day gift tables. Master gardeners on hand to advise.
• Nanaimo Rhododendron Society Show and Sale, Centennial Building in Beban Park, Nanaimo, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Rhododendrons and other plants from local growers and beautiful trusses on display.
• Nanoose Garden Club, Nanoose Library Centre on Northwest Bay Rd., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vegetables, heritage tomatoes, perennials.
• Qualicum Beach Garden Club, 701 Larch Dr. in Qualicum, 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Plants, including vegetable transplants, and garden related items.
Rhododendron sale. The Victoria Rhododendron Society will hold a plant sale that will include unusual and species rhododendrons as well as companion plants on Sunday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4640 Cordova Bay Rd. in Saanich.