Brenda Macdonald admires a rhododendron during one of her plant-hunting trips to China.

Brenda Macdonald admires a rhododendron during one of her plant-hunting trips to China.

SOOKE GARDEN CLUB: Hunting for plants in Asia

Gardener Brenda Macdonald bring in her passion for rhodos to Sooke Garden Club

By Loretta Fritz

Brenda Macdonald likes plants. She likes to grow things that look pretty or smell nice. It’s also fairly safe to conclude that she’s a big fan of rhododendrons.

“We had a large and well-established rhododendron garden in the rain forest of North Vancouver but moved to Vancouver Island a little over two years ago,” notes Brenda. “Now we have a large and fledgling rhododendron garden in Shirley.”

This passion for rhodos is a shared one.

Both Brenda and her husband are members of several rhododendron clubs as well as the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Wash.

Under the auspices of the Rhododendron Species Foundation, they have taken part in four plant-hunting trips to Asia – three to China and one to Sikkim, a small mountainous state in northeast India known for its concentrated biodiversity.

Because local-area gardeners find January a great month for travel, the Sooke Garden Club is taking a trip this month to the Himalaya. Well, sort of. It will be a vicarious trip instead of a physical one. There will be no need to sit for hours in airports, worry about vaccinations, clothing and jet lag, or be bunched like bananas in a cargo hold.

This trip will be relaxing and inspiring.

Macdonald will be the tour guide on this welcome mid-winter journey to an area renowned for its beauty as well as its flora and fauna. Prepare to be transported as she shares some of her many experiences.

January also marks the start of the club’s 46th membership year. That means a new 12-month calendar outlining upcoming topics/speakers, parlour shows, contests, garden socials, and other gardening/horticulture-related events for 2017.

Meetings offer members the opportunity to discuss gardening-related issues, to share tips for successful growing, to showcase their successes, and simply to enjoy the camaraderie of others who share an interest in plants. Refreshments are served at the conclusion of each meeting. Annual membership cost is $15.

Please join us on Jan. 25, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. New members are welcome, and there’s no better time to join.

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Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.