Tag Archives: Victoria

February Garden Activities

iris reticulata, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s easy to LOVE February!  The crocus bloom is a Valentines gift I treasure  🙂


  • It really feels like the beginning of a new season for me.  I like to start fresh, so now’s the time to tidy up the garden shed.  Gather up all the tools.   Scrub off any debris or soil. Wipe wooden handles with some oil to strengthen & lengthen their lives.   Sharpen & oil pruners, shears and hedge clippers making sure they’re rust-free.
Crocus in lawn 2013, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins


  • Summer blooming Clematis (Jackmanii, Earnest Markham, and Tangutica), the ones that flower on wood grown this year, should be cut almost to the ground, down to 4 to 6 buds.
  • For a tidier spring look, shear epimediums before they send up their delicate flower shoots… St. John’s Wort (groundcover) can also be sheered to 2 inches.
  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs like Buddleja davidii, Spiraea japonica, Hypericum forrestii and hardy Fuchsia. They benefit from cutting down hard in mid-late February.  Go crazy & copse the Red Twigged Dogwood.
  • Hydrangea is another summer-flowering shrub to prune now that the buds are showing… but be a little more delicate than a ‘copse’.
  • Tree peony flower in the spring, but by now we can see the buds swelling & know which branches died off through winter, so prune away.
  • When I’m feeling very tidy I’ll also cut back the evergreen sword ferns that are now at their most ragged.  They’ll soon be sporting fresh new growth & it’s kinda fun to watch it unfurl.
  • DON’T PRUNE spring-flowering shrubs like Forsythia, Clematis montana, Spiraea x arguta, Buddleja globosa, Viburnum tinus, and Ceanothus burkwoodi now. They flower on stems produced after last spring’s flowering, which have ripened over the summer.
primula, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins


  • distribute a handful of lime & bone meal beneath Clematis,  Lilac, Hydrangea, Flowering Red Currant, Peony, Mock Orange, Sedum, Spirea & Aubretia
  • sprinkle tomato food onto areas where spring bulbs grow
Yucca in the winter garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins


  • Check any plantings under large overhangs for soil moisture. These areas can get very dry over winter. They don’t need a lot of water but enough to survive
 hellebore and crocus garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins


If they’re outgrowing their space, most late-blooming, hardy perennials can be lifted and divided now.

  • Cut the tops back to a couple of inches.
  • Lift the whole plant out with a fork.
  • Look for a natural line across the plant and cut it with a sharp knife right through.
  • Continue this until you have divided the plant up to suit your needs.
  • Replant the pieces in groups of 3-5 to make an impact in ornamental borders from repeating colour schemes.
  • Pot up spares immediately.
  • Water well.
crocus cluster gardem Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins


  • Looking over the front yard, we seem to have a few blades of grass growing in our moss patch. Moss control can be applied in February, but remember it requires 2 full days without rain.  (Good luck with that  🙂
    The recommended type of moss control is a product that has fertilizer + ferrous sulfate (iron). Something with NPK numbers of 9-3-6 greens the lawn for about 30 days after the moss has been killed. Dolomite lime should be applied about 2 weeks after the moss kill.
  • If the lawn isn’t too wet & grass is growing, give it an early cut.
 bergenia - elephant ears pig squeak garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Veg & Berry Patch

  • Start early plantings providing the soil isn’t saturated. Sweet Peas, Broad Beans, Spinach, Radishes, Green Onions, Chives, Clarkia, Poppies, and Flax will all germinate in the cool weather
  • Start Asian Greens and Radishes under row covers.
  • Buy seed Potatoes now and store the tubers in a light, cool (10°C), frost-free spot and leave them to sprout. This is known as chitting. Egg cartons make good chitting trays. Make sure you put the tubers with the ‘eye’ end ( where the sprouts will grow from) upwards.
  • Dig in over-wintered green manures such as Winter Rye.
  • Top dress’ over-wintered crops, such as autumn planted Onions, Broad Beans, and Spring Cabbage, to give spring growth a boost. Use a good rich garden compost or organic fertilizer.
  • To help the soil warm up more quickly, pull back any organic mulches, then cover with clear or black plastic. Put these in place a couple of weeks before sowing.
Donkey Tail Spurge garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Greenhouse & Cold Frames

  • Tidy up & sterilize thoroughly (even glass) before starting new plants. Remove all traces of last year’s problems rather than putting new plants at risk.
  • Prep seed starting supplies.: trays, pots, starter mix, heat mats, grow lights
  • Start:  Pansies, Lobelia, Begonias, and Pelargonium can be started in the greenhouse.
  • It’s also time to start Artichokes, Onions, Leeks, and Parsley indoors.
mahonia in February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Watch for ‘damping off’ disease in seedlings in the greenhouse or indoors. This fungus causes the stems to collapse and the seedlings to fall over.

  • Avoid over-crowding seeds & sprouts. It’s better to have a tray of fewer, healthy plants than to lose many to this disease
  • Water often, but sparingly
  • Ensure that seedlings get enough light to prevent them from becoming ‘leggy’.
  • Turn seed trays daily to ensure even growth.
camellia, february, at the legislature, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Seasonal Color

hardy cyclamen coum, persian violet, eastern sowbread, round-leaf cyclamen, C. coum, Cyclamen orbiculatum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

© SVSeekins, 2014

Early Camellia

Camellia is one of my favourite broadleaf evergreens.  It blooms early, then works hard as background support the other 3 seasons. Several birds make themselves at home in the camellia in our courtyard  – – AND the shrub is deer resistant!   That’s my kind of plant.     🙂

camelia in december, at LD downtown
photo by SVSeekins

A few years ago, I spotted a hedge of camellia in downtown Victoria, beside London Drugs. They were almost finished blooming in mid-December!   I have no idea how early they’d started… November?  October??

Who’d have expected blooms in autumn?

Camellia japonica apple blossom, Joy Sander, Camellia sasanqua,, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Not long after that, KC gifted me with a fall-blooming camellia.  It starts blooming before Christmas and has even more flowers through January!

Yeah, Baby!

Once I knew it was possible to have blooms so early in the year, I kept an eye out for even more samples around town:

It was delightful to find another variety of camellia starting to bloom in mid-February sunshine near the BC Legislature.

Just a month later, in March,  I notice these camellia blooming in a yard not far from the YM-YWCA downtown.

A block or so away from our place is a camellia that flowers through April.

Then there is the camellia in our courtyard typically begins blooming in April & is in full blossom in May.

Autumn… winter… spring…

Who knew there are so many cultivars with differing blooming schedules?

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2014

Haultain Common – sharing common ground with common folk

Welcome to Haultain Common garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

They’d hoped it wouldn’t cause concern that they were expanding their garden empire. It was only removing the fence delineating their yard from the street. It was only replacing some weedy grass with dry habitat native plants . Wasn’t it beautifying the neighborhood, safeguarding water resources, and educating the community about our natural environment?

native plantings along Asquith sidewalk  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Happily, the neighbors welcomed the expanded forest glade. Passers by often complimented Rainey Hopewell and Margot Johnson as they tended the public area beside their home on Asquith street, not far from the downtown core of Victoria, BC.

borage Haultain Common herb  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The dynamic couple encouraged neighborhood involvement. The boulevard grew into an active native plant urban demonstration garden with volunteers, workshops, and planting parties..

Building on that success, expansion spread to include the boulevard on the Haultain street edge of their corner lot. This time the intention was to bring to mind issues of local food security. The community pitched in, developing the common area into a shared food garden,

calendula Haultain Common herb 2  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now known as Haultain Common, the boulevard between the sidewalk and curb was first sheet mulched. Over a west coast winter the mulch smothered the grass and weeds below it, developing into nutrient rich, composted soil. By spring it was ready for planting.

Haultain Common veggie patch  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

To start, they chose vegetables that often volunteer in a compost pile: tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins & squash. They share with whomever chooses to join in: parents & kids learning to grow food, seasoned gardeners exploring permaculture, and even urbanites tasting their first home-grown tomato. All are welcome to share in the harvest.

Haultain Common  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Some neighbors donate plants, and even more contribute leaves or compostables on a regular basis, gaining a sense of ownership & belonging in the common and in the community.

Haultain Common, Asquith at Haultain,  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Over the past several years Haultain Common has grown in profile as well. It’s not unusual to see a university class exploring the garden one day, and a Day Care tour on another. It’s been so well received that a local irrigation company & a landscape company donated the equipment & installation of a watering system for the Common.

Boulevard gardens have cropped up on other properties along Haultain street. They’re also  growing in other neighborhoods around the city. To Margot and Rainey, its been an experience in growth in so many ways.

© SVSeekins, 2011