Cowichan Lake garden enthusiasts swoon over chemical-free plants

An enthusiastic group of avid gardeners attended the April meeting of the Lake Bloomer’s Garden Club on a cool Tuesday evening, earlier this month.

Dianne Nichol

Dianne Nichol

An enthusiastic group of avid gardeners attended the April meeting of the Lake Bloomer’s Garden Club on a cool Tuesday evening, earlier this month.

Newly signed member Helen Lacoste and guest Paige Whitfield were welcomed by President Pauline Balmer.

Members delved into delicious refreshments provided by the Snowdrop team headed by Sylvia Roach and a short business meeting followed.

Sylvia then introduced Gordon MacKay from Alba Plants, who presented a splendid Power Point presentation of not only plants, but photos of Scotland, other gardens in Canada, and rock gardens in areas on the island.

Gordon came to Canada over 20 years ago from Scotland and has worked in the horticultural industry since 1986.  He is now running his own company, Alba Plants, which he states grow “Gems for the Rock Garden.”

Alba Plants runs out of a Cowichan Bay address, but there is no farm gate or retail outlet.  Gordon sells primarily by reputation, plant sales, internet and garden clubs.  His company uses no chemical applications, practices organic techniques, is sustainable and uses no peat moss (a slow growing natural soil supplement). Bags of steer manure or bark much takes its place in his garden.

“By using peat moss we are taking away a habitat,” he said.

He also teaches how to create a crevice garden (spectacular rock gardens) right from bare land. The company produces 85 per cent of its own produce either by seeding out or cuttings and propagations.

Gordon also spends a good deal of time providing horticulture therapy to clients at Providence Farm.

His wife and two sons accompanied him to the meeting and helped bring in several unusual rock garden plants that the members purchased after the presentation.

Gordon and his family had visited the Honeymoon Bay Wildflower Reserve prior to the meeting, but plan on coming back in a few weeks to see the lilies.

They were very impressed with the variety of plants that grow in that wonderful ecological reserve; a true gem in our community.

During the April Lake Bloomers Garden Club meeting, the Lake Days parade entry was also discussed, as well as raising chickens in one’s backyard as part of the 100 mile diet.

The Garden Club’s next meeting, and last at the Catholic Church until October, will be Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m., and will be hosted by the Carnations.

Guest speakers will be Brooke and Rayanne from Marigold Nurseries, who will plant some hanging baskets and, hopefully bring some plants to sell.

With notes by Sylvia Roach