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Weather slows early gardening season but boom expected across Greater Victoria

Warmer weather will bring the green thumbs out of hibernation, businesses predict
Russell Nursery in North Saanich is celebrating its 30th year in business. Co-owner Laurel Rassenti is preparing for blossoming gardeners when the weather gets a little warmer. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)

Gardening season has had a slow start in Greater Victoria, but nurseries and garden centres are bracing for a stampede of green-thumbed shoppers come warmer weather.

Gorden Nickel, owner of Wildwood Outdoor Living Centre in Saanich, said they have been accumulating a big selection of plants.

“This year the weather is sort of playing against us – not necessarily being bad for the plants but maybe not so great for the gardeners – and people are putting off buying plants right now until the weather starts to break.”

When the weather breaks, Laurel Rassenti, co-owner of Russell Nursery in North Saanich – which is celebrating its 30th this year – is expecting a big rush.

“We’re a little nervous that once it warms up in May, it might get everybody who’s been staying home – and out of their garden because of the cool weather – all going to come out at once. It might get really bonkers then,” said Rassenti.

Nickel noted some delays in shipments due to supply chain issues of hard goods for seed starting had been seen earlier in the pandemic but they are now well-stocked for this year. Both Nickel and Rassenti said the colder weather so far this year hasn’t impacted access to plants at all.

Growing food at home boomed during the pandemic. Dalhousie University’s agri-food lab released a report in October 2020 which found that almost one in five Canadians and more than half of British Columbians started growing food during the pandemic.

Nickel said he’s started stocking more fruit trees so people can grow in their garden, as well as things such as herbs which can be grown even on a patio.

“I think people are realizing how easy it is and it just tastes better, quite frankly, you know, when you grow it yourself.”

The turbulent weather of last summer, with the heat dome bringing extreme high temperatures and droughts, may make some gardeners nervous, said Rassenti, but she said there are ways to prepare your gardens.

“It’s just more about knowledge, I think about making smarter choices, especially for people who might have had more issues within their own garden.”

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