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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Top of to-do list in June is to stop and smell the roses

There is much to look forward to this month: roses, the first lilies, peonies and irises, along with sweet, sun-warmed strawberries and home-grown salads

I won’t soon forget the magical turn in the weather for the Victoria Day long weekend. Sunshine that lasted through the day and dispelled the cold produced in me the feeling of being reborn into light and warmth. Short-sleeved tee-shirt time in the garden, at last.

The sun came out, and so did people. Happy groups of walkers passed by the house all day, revelling in the comfortable, and comforting, weather. On the Friday of the long weekend I gardened all morning with a friend, then stretched out in the sun for a very brief rest before visitors came looking for me in the back garden. A neighbour arrived with muffins. Another brought emptied beverage cartons, the kind I use to make seeding flats.

Looking back. Though a significant portion of the usual spring planting was delayed by cold, rainy weather over the past two months, it was not all doom and gloom.

The kale plants grew large, and produced a prolonged and plentiful harvest of succulent flowerbud stems, enough for me, my friends, and several neighbours. Self-sown patches of miner’s lettuce along edges of vegetable plots have yielded masses of juicy greens.

The lush growth and abundant, long-lasting bloom on spring-flowering shrubs and trees have made the view from my upstairs bedroom window onto the back garden a most satisfying treat.

June. Looking to the month ahead, it will be a catch-up time for many of us. I’m racing to transplant the last of the heat lovers — tomatoes and peppers, squash, marigolds, zinnias and more.

There is much to look forward to this month: roses, the first lilies, peonies and irises, along with sweet, sun-warmed strawberries and home-grown salads. Important things to do this month include stopping often to smell and admire the roses and other flowers. As the weather warms, look for lightly shaded sites for a succession of lettuce plantings. Fill empty containers and garden spots with flower and vegetable transplants from local garden centres. Try growing something new. Plan for a gift or celebration tailored to the special interests of the gardening father of the family on the 19th.


VHS meeting. The Victoria Horticultural Society will meet on Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Garth Homer Centre, 813 Darwin Ave. Jeff Wright, head horticulturist at Royal Roads University, will speak about Woodland Gardening in Victoria. Masks are required in the Garth Homer Centre. Non-member drop-in fee $5.

Floral art. The Mid Island Floral Art Club will feature an Ikebana demonstration and workshop at their meeting on Thursday, June 9, at 2 p.m. in St. Stephen’s Church, 150 Village Way in Qualicum Beach. Guest fee $6.

Summer show. The View Royal Garden Club will hold a Summer Garden Show on Saturday, June 11, 1 to 3 p.m. in Wheeley Hall, behind Esquimalt United Church, 500 Admirals Rd. Exhibits include roses, perennials and annuals, vegetables and fruits, potted plants and herbs. Admission $5 includes refreshments and door prize tickets.

Denman tour. The Denman Island Home and Garden Tour is back, Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Featured among the 13 properties on the tour are the home and garden of writer Des Kennedy and his partner Sandy, as well as a cottage garden with beautiful stone walls and terraces and a “retro-kitchy” home with a bath on the front porch. Tickets at $25 can be purchased at The tour is a fundraiser for the Denman Conservancy, which works to protect rare and fragile ecosystems on the island.

Teeny tour. Victoria Hospice is presenting a return of its Teeny Tiny Garden Tour on Sunday, June 12, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour includes elegant formal gardens as well as country style food gardens, herbs, and captivating blossoms. Tickets at $25 are available at Capital Iron and GardenWorks outlets and at Heirloom Linens in Broadmead Village.

Nanaimo area tour. Altrusa, an international non-profit, is holding their seventh Annual Garden Tour of six gardens in and around Nanaimo on Sunday, June 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. One of the tour sites is a lovely old house in the downtown area with an exuberant garden with many Asian influences and beautiful ceramic pots. The tour is a fundraiser to support women, children and literacy in Nanaimo. Tickets at $20 are at Green Thumb and Little Tree Nurseries, Turley’s Florist and K.C.’s Boutique.

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