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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Seeding season wins and setbacks

The indoor and outdoor seeding seasons for most of us bring a blend of disappointment and eager anticipation.

Like most home gardeners I’m sure, I was elated at the arrival of more usable outdoor weather last month. With a bit of gentle warming I was at last able to transplant my seed-grown violas and pansies without the discomfort of frozen fingers. Finally, lettuce transplants almost bursting out of their flats could be moved out into the garden.

Triumphs, setbacks, and great expectations. The indoor and outdoor seeding seasons for most of us bring a blend of disappointment and eager anticipation. Though some seeds may fail to germinate or sprout to produce wimpy plants, there are also spectacular successes. So far, some of my best have been from Renee’s Garden seeds.

  • Garden Babies Butterhead, a miniature lettuce suited for containers, germinated quickly and speedily developed into fat little cushions of green. Can’t wait to tuck into the first fully formed heads.
  • Baby Belle Mini Snack/Salad Peppers look full of promise and will soon be transplanted to pots for the patio.
  • Hummingbird Salvia Firelight has produced sturdy transplants that will also soon be moved to a patio tub.
  • Fancy Pants, the first ivy geranium I’ve grown from seed, produced impeccable transplants that will soon be moved to containers for my “hammock garden.” They will replace the violas that have bloomed in two hammock planters for weeks now. Those violas were seeded last July and moved into the planters in early autumn.


Peninsula meeting. The Peninsula Garden Club will meet on Monday, May 8, at 7 p.m. in the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. Abigail Hyde from Satin Flower Nurseries will speak about Meadowscaping with Native Plants. Drop-in guest fee $5.

Qualicum meeting and plant sale. The Qualicum Beach Garden Club will meet on Tuesday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the QB Civic Centre, 747 Jones St. Bonnie Zand, owner of Bonnie’s Bugs IPM, will talk about Gardening for Native Bees. Learn how gardeners can help to protect our native bees. The club’s annual sale on Saturday, May 13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 525 Yambury Rd. will include vegetable transplants and garden related items.

Dahlia meeting. The Victoria Dahlia Society will meet on Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m. in St. Michael’s Church, 4733 W. Saanich Rd. Connie Young Davis, a prolific dahlia grower, will present Paintbush Pollination — a guide to creating your own dahlia variety.

Cactus show and sale. The Victoria Cactus and Succulent Society is hosting a show and sale on Friday, May 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave. in Colwod.

VHS sale. The Victoria Horticultural Society is hosting a sale of annual flowers, perennials, house plants and more on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Garth Homer Centre, 813 Darwin Ave. Proceeds from the sale will help fund the new rooftop garden at the Centre.

Organic plant sale. The Compost Education Centre is hosting an all-organic plant sale on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Haegert Park, 1202 Yukon St., one block from the CED on North Park St. Local farmers will offer their organically grown vegetable, flower and herb seedlings including heirloom tomatoes, native plants and berry bushes. There will be a parent-child worksop on “Spectaclar Seeds.”

Mother’s Day at Abkhazi Garden. Abkhazi Garden and Teahouse, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, is hosting a Mother’s Day Tea on Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14, with three sittings: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. By reservation only. Call 778-265-6466.

Rhododendron sale. Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society’s annual sale on Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in St. John’s Anglican Church, 486 Jubilee St. in Duncan, will feature hundreds of rhododendrons, perennials and companion plants.

Musical garden tour. Eight springtime gardens will be featured on the Victoria Conservatory of Music Mother’s Day Musical Garden Tour on Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For a list of ticket suppliers or to purchase tickets online, visit

MARS garden tour. The Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society is presenting a Mother’s Day tour of 12 gardens in Qualicum Beach and Parksville on Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find ticket vendors at

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