Planty to Go Around

By Kathryn Pankowski

Pull out your calendars, please, right now, and mark Saturday, May 6. That’s the date of the James Bay Plant Swap and Sale, held this year from 10 to 12 at the south end of James Bay Community School (by Jesse’s Café). Right by the hopscotch courts. So if anyone, for incomprehensible reasons, gets tired of looking at plants, I’m sure we can branch out into a bit of an athletic competition.

The JBNA Gardening Committee started the neighbourhood plant swap and sale last year, and about 150 people turned out for the first one. It’s an informal event and totally free, so be sure to drop by on your Saturday morning walk. Even if you’re not in the market for plants, we like company.

The basic idea behind the event is to get all those stacks of plastic pots and unused (but still good) garden tools out of people’s sheds and basements, and into the hands of people who will use them, as well as providing a place to sell and trade excess plants and starts. You know how it goes: you thought that older zucchini seed might not germinate very well, so you sowed lots “to be safe” – and it turned out to have a much greater will to live than anticipated. This is the right place to find a good home for eight superfluous squashes – maybe even trade them for some tomato varieties you’ve never tried.

This is also the place for James Bay gardeners, especially the newer ones, to get plants that are known to grow well in our neighbourhood, often so much cooler and breezier in the summer than other parts of Victoria. You’ll also be able to meet your gardening neighbours and get advice and information directly from people who are familiar with our own little microclimates.

Last year, there were lots of interesting tomato starts and some giant hostas, much bigger than you’d ever find in a garden centre. This year, who knows? That’s part of the fun. But I can guarantee veg starts, a couple of interesting lavender plants, some herbs, and two mystery hebes that seem to have spontaneously generated in my garden and are too cute to compost.

Have plants, tools, or pots to sell or trade? Just bring them on the day. We’ll give you a spot of ground and, if you arrive by car, help with the unloading and watch your plants while you park. You set your prices or make your trades and keep the proceeds. You’ll need to bring along any equipment you want, such as a table or chair. If you’re bringing lots and lots of plants, please drop me an email (address below) so we can be sure to have people ready to give you a hand.

Have a pile of pots to pass on but are going to be out of town on May 6? Have a few extra starts but don’t want to devote your whole Saturday morning finding them a new home? You can donate items to the JBNA Gardening Committee to sell at their own table. Either drop them off 9:30 – 10:30 at the sale, or email me to arrange a drop off or pick up beforehand. All proceeds from the Gardening Committee table go towards funding neighbourhood gardening projects; any ‘leftover’ plants are donated to neighbourhood public gardens.

Neighbourhood Garden News

James Bay is going to have more food trees for public picking! Le Coteau Nursery recently decided to celebrate Canada’s 150 by giving away 150 fruit trees and berry bushes to not-for-profits across the CRD. The JBNA Gardening Committee quickly sent in an application for seven trees and, despite some pretty stiff competition, were chosen as one of the beneficiaries. Thanks, Le Coteau, CR-FAIR, and the Good Food Network for making this happen. We look forward to planting our new trees in the fall.


Kathryn Pankowski is the James Bay Neighbourhood Association Neighbourhood Gardening Advocate: she can be reached at The JBNA would like to acknowledge the financial support of the City of Victoria for this initiative.



Places to go….things to do