It’s Plant Swap Time

It’s Plant Swap Time

Above: Lush ‘garden rescue’ perennials, looking for a new home at the James Bay Plant Swap and Sale on May 11, 10-12 at Irving Park. Photo by Kathryn Pankowski

By Kathryn Pankowski

Yes, it’s spring. Which means that it’s time for the Spring Plant Swap and Sale, coming up on Saturday, May 11, 10-12 at Irving Park.

If you’ve been to a swap before, you know it’s a great place to pick up pesticide-free plants that your neighbours have already tested in our cool and breezy James Bay climate, as well as lots of good local growing advice.

There are lots of ways to participate:

  • If you have a few extra plants, starts, or bits of gardening paraphernalia, bring them along and see if you can trade them for something you’d rather have.

  • If you have a lot of extra plants – if you’ve renovated a bed or gone wild on the seed sowing – come down, set up a table and swap or sell. No fee and you keep the proceeds.

  • If you don’t have any plants but want some, come and browse.

  • If you have extra plants but can’t attend the swap, you can donate them to the JBNA Gardening Volunteers. We’ll either use them in neighbourhood gardens or sell them to fund gardening projects. We also offer the ‘leftovers’ free to other community garden projects, so all your plants will find a home and help beautify James Bay. Either drop them off at Irving Park on the day of the sale between 9 and 10 am, or contact me at the email below to make other arrangements.

What will we have this year? Well, I never know for sure until the day, which is part of the fun, but here are some of the highlights of what we have in hand at the time of writing this column:

So far, I know there will be tomato, kale, collard, and chard starts for your vegetable garden, as well as a selection of herbs.

Late last summer, we did a plant rescue from a garden that was about to be bulldozed, so we have a selection of ‘mystery peonies’ and ‘mystery iris’ for those who like to be surprised. The plants are all coming up strongly this spring, but we have no idea what the flowers will be like. We also have honeysuckle from cuttings taken at the same garden.

A selection of hardy perennials – mostly old ‘cottage garden’ favourites so tough that they made it through last winter outside in pots – including day lilies, astilbe, masterwort, bergenia, garden geraniums, bellflowers, garden chrysanthemums, and lots more.

And who knows what else? I certainly don’t. Not yet, anyway.

If you are dividing plants and lack pots to put them in for the swap, get in touch – I have a good supply of pots and trays for starts on hand this year and am willing to share. Because sharing is the whole point of a Spring Plant Swap, isn’t it?

Neighbourhood Gardening News

Now that spring is here, are you thinking you might like to garden a bit, but don’t have land? We’re looking for a few more volunteers to help out with neighbourhood gardening projects, including the Michigan/Menzies Street garden. This garden is expanding again, so we could use another pair of hands to help with weeding, deadheading, and watering at our weekly work parties on Thursday mornings, 10:30-noon. This is a group project, so you don’t need to commit to being there every week – it’s the perfect way to enjoy some gardening when you’re in the mood, without being looked at reproachfully by a bunch of plants (or your fellow volunteers) when you go off on a holiday. Any level of skill and experience is welcome, including absolute beginners. And you get access to a steady supply of fresh herbs and a few other edible treats as a reward.

Tree stewards for the apples and hazelnuts at Charles Redfern (near Pendray and Quebec Streets). What’s a tree steward do? Helps with a few minor jobs, such as weeding and mulching around the trees twice a year. Checks on the trees every few weeks to make sure they are doing well. And then – the big job – helps keep them watered during the dry season, which involves lugging buckets of water across a busy street. Lots of buckets of water. If you feel you need a bit more weight-bearing exercise, and enjoy dodging horses and pedicabs, this is the job for you. We keep a watering schedule and you can sign up for as many or few dates as you want.

If you’re interested in either of these jobs or would like to discuss other volunteer possibilities, get in touch with me at the email below.

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.

Poem: The Simple Penny

2019 JBCP Volunteer appreciation event

2019 JBCP Volunteer appreciation event