Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘Explore reconciliation’: Native plant sale this weekend could help people and pollinators


For people who struggle to keep their plants alive, this one’s for you!

Native plants will be finding homes in their natural habitats this weekend as the Swan Lake Nature House holds their annual sale this weekend.

These native plants that will be up for grabs have called Greater Victoria home since time immemorial — far before the area was colonized. 

Why bother with native plants

More like, why not?! 

According to Dr. Cara Gibson, Executive Director of Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary (SLCHNS), these plants don’t need as much care as non-native species.

“A native plant is one that is regionally appropriate,” Dr. Gibson told Victoria Buzz. “They’ve been here for many thousands of years.”

“Some of those plants are here over time, from evolution and some have increased in abundance over the years due to cultivation from Indigenous folks.”

“They’ve evolved to grow where they are so they’re adapted to the conditions locally,” Dr. Gibson added. 

Broad Leaved Shooting Star Fawn Lilies (Photo by: Kirsten Grove)

That means for homeowners developing gardens, these plants will require far less maintenance because the plants are already used to the natural amounts of water they get from our weather conditions. 

Having native plants also greatly improves the chances of survival for thousands of species of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

“A lot of ornamental plants don’t have pollen or any food for pollinators,” explained Dr. Gibson. “Like a lawn has basically nothing, it’s just green.” 

“Green lawns have very little to do with helping the local fauna.”

This house in Oak Bay’s owner has meticulously and over time planted an entire lawn’s worth of native plants which does wonders for pollinators in the area:

Oak Bay house that features a front yard bursting at the seams with native plants (Photo By: Louise Goulet)

Dr. Gibson says that restoring native plants is such a simple thing but the benefits for the land and its traditional peoples are boundless.

“I can do less work, I can promote my local landscape and it’s also a way for people to explore reconciliation and connecting to the land,” she said. 

“These are the plants that are meant to grow here that Indigenous Peoples have cultivated, so we can learn how that works and be doing our own work ourselves.”

The Native Plant Sale details

This year’s annual Native Plant Sale put on by the SLCHNS will be the first time the sale has returned as an ‘in-person’ event, as well as incorporating online sales. 

All proceeds from the sale go toward funding the SLCHNS, which is a non-profit organization who act as stewards to the land their nature house occupies and tend to the natural ecosystems there. 

Dr. Gibson says that the plethora of native plants are quick to sell out early as many people attend this event year after year. 

“Come on Saturday,” exclaimed Dr. Gibson. “Some things sell out fast.”

There are plenty of edible plants and ones that are stunning to the eye in the mix of what the sale will have in stock. 

They have plants for every level of lighting too, so whether your garden is in direct sunlight, partial sun or complete shade, they have something that will thrive.

“What I would really encourage people to do is just come and look at the textures and chat with other people and fall in love with your own plant,” said Dr. Gibson.

“For me, plants are more than just, ‘what can this plant do for me,’” she added. “Is it a nice entity to spend time with and what speaks to your heart?”

Dr. Gibson wants people to discover their own relationship with the native plants being sold more than anything else.

Members of SLCHNS will get 10% off all plants being sold as well as 10% off workshops and programming and in the nature house gift shop. People planning on becoming a member can sign up on site or via the SLCHNS website. 

The next event at SLCHNS following this plant sale will be a craft sale in collaboration with the Silver Swans just ahead of Mother’s Day. Dr. Gibson says this event and partnership has massively helped the nature house’s funding and community.

The Silver Swans are known for their quilting and crafting throughout Greater Victoria. 

Native Plant Sale at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary 

  • Where: 3873 Swan Lake Road
  • When: April 22nd and 23rd, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Curtis Blandy

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