Splendid fall displays can be created naturally through judicious plant selection and placement.

Creating fall and winter interest in the garden

Sooke Garden Club hosts monthly meeting on Oct. 28

Some traditions are especially cherished. For me, like many other immigrants, sharing Thanksgiving with a “found” extended family is one of those.

For the past 40 years, with relatively few interruptions, we have shared this holiday with one particular family, first in Saskatchewan and now on the West Coast.

As dedicated gardeners, we are unabashedly thankful to be living on our respective islands (they live on Hornby), where working and puttering in the yard can take place year round.

We look forward to checking out the evolution of each other’s garden, discussing our various successes and failures, and inevitably remarking on how something has grown “so much bigger than I thought it would.” There is always much to talk about when it comes to plants!

Thanksgiving is also an important seasonal marker: Most of the harvest-related work now behind us, and we can start planning for next year. It’s therefore an ideal time to walk around the yard and take stock.

At last month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club, we focused on replenishing and reorganizing planted areas in preparation for next spring. Discussion covered cutting back/dividing perennials, pruning shrubs, assessing stressed plants, feeding the soil, and so forth.

This month’s presentation is going in a different but complementary direction by looking more closely at plant options: What can we plant in our garden beds or containers that will add landscape interest in the fall and winter months?

Guest speaker this month is Carmen Varcoe, who is quick to reinforce how fortunate we are to live where we do: “Our growing conditions make it possible to have something in the garden to enjoy whatever the season.”

Using a slide show format, Varcoe will talk about ornamental plants that can be grown here with notable success, from perennials to trees and everything in between, and offer ideas for creating season-round appeal.

Varcoe calls herself a “total plant geek,” having grown and nurtured her own 1.75-acre garden for 34 years. She is a member of various garden clubs and currently chairs the Finnerty Gardens advisory board at the University of Victoria. (Finnerty Gardens incorporates 6.5 acres on the UVic campus and is home to more than 4,000 different trees and shrubs, many of them rhododendrons and azaleas and various companion plants.)

Join us Wednesday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. New members are always welcome. Annual fee: $15; guests: $5. Also on the agenda: pumpkin and squash contest; photo contest judging; fall plant sale.

Questions? Visit our website at sookegardenclub.ca, email sooke.gardenclub@yahoo.ca. or phone Rose at 250-642-5509.

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Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.