PoCo Garden Club Plant Sale 2018

Yet again, the PoCo Garden Club plant sale was awesome!

Check for photos of the actual Saturday April 28 sale on Facebook.

This was my first time being involved and I was part of the “set-up” team.  What an amazing group of volunteers in this club!  Set-up started at 3pm and continued for MANY hours. (It was still buzzing with activity when I had to leave at 6:30pm).

People streamed in with flats of plants, cartloads of huge pots, and even pick-up trucks filled with “plant digs” of bushes and trees!  Quite a few plants digs had been done in the month preceding, and even “non-club members” phoned in with donations for the sale too. Half the proceeds are donated to the University of the Fraser Valley, Horticultural Dept. (Check out some of their much appreciated purchases on an earlier blog.)

Plants were arranged according to type and sun/shade requirements.  We tried to make sure that each plant had a tag with both the common name and the scientific nomenclature.  Of course each new flat of plants meant that we had to shuffle everything around so that our customers would be able to easily view and pick out their treasures.  We even had rows of pots UNDER the tables!  Plant experts in the club were called upon to help classify “mystery plants” and another team put in the price tags.  Everyone brought cardboard boxes for customers to use.  The laughter and camaraderie was infectious!

Another big part of the plant sale was the Baking Department!  Nothing but home baked goods were allowed, and there were many choices to be enjoyed.  A Raffle table was also set up with beautifully wrapped goodies and gifts.

If you missed the sale this year, then you had better mark your calendar for next time!  Better yet… JOIN THE CLUB!







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Clematis for All Seasons

The “Clematis for all Seasons” presentation was a delight for the eyes and chock full of good information on this beautiful plant!  Fred Wein is certainly an expert on that topic… read the biography at the end!







Clearview Horticultural Products, Aldergrove, has been in production since 1970. Although Clematis is the focal plant, they certainly grow many other flowers.  They are, however, the largest Clematis sellers in North America… perhaps in the world!



This Garden Shop certainly seems worth a visit! It’s open from April to Autumn.

Check out the Clearview websites for some valuable information.

www.classicclimbers.com   and    www.homeofclematis.net

Mr. Wein gave us some valuable information on growing Clematis, but I think you’d be well advised to buy the Clearview modestly priced book ($13.95) if you are a serious Clematis lover.  The International Clematis Society gives it a very favorable review!  http://clematisinternational.com/books2013.html


Now… here is some information that I took away from this excellent presentation.  Obviously, this is no substitute for a good book or internet website! LOL!

Sleep, creep, leap… that’s a good 3 year timeline to consider if you are buying Clematis. You might have to wait a couple years before it shows its full potential! 

Did you know that there are three main types of Clematis?   Group A are early bloomers that bloom on last year’s wood. (Prune them after blooming.) Group B has a massive Spring bloom and then another bloom in Fall.  Group B1 blooms in May.  There are double flowers on old wood and single flowers on new softer wood.  Group C has a Summer bloom (July, August).  You need to prune them every year or all the blooms will end up way up top, where you can’t enjoy them!  Cut them right down when they are dormant in the winter.  December – January is the best.

For both Group A and B, give a little bone meal in the Spring but then stop or you’ll get large growth but not lots of flowers.  You can give lots of fertilizer after blooming.  For Group C, feed them until you see buds.

Tomato fertilizer is good. It is basically the same as Clematis food, but cheaper!  You can use 14-14-14 as well. Bone meal is really good twice a year.  Dolomite lime is good.  Coconut shells (ground up) can be a good soil alternative if you add some peat and fertilizer.

Mildew used to be a bigger problem in the past.  Mildew germinates in 14 hours so water in the mornings and try to keep the leaves dry.  Spider mites can be a problem in some varieties, especially in hot weather.  Funguses can get in when there is a damaged stem.  Cut the infected portions out and destroy them.

Mr. Wein agreed with one of our members that “Hot head, cool feet” does have some merit.

Planting your Clematis against your house is really not a good idea.  There is usually poor soil, and not enough water.  You could, however, sink a pipe 2 ft. to pour water down.

You can grow Clematis in pots but use good soil and repot every few years.  “Long John” pots are 8 inches wide but 2 feet deep!  They are great, but a little hard to find.

Here are some photos of some wonderful Clematis flowers.  I was especially excited to see the very special “Vancouver” varieties!

Clematis Group A

Clematis Group B1

Clematis Group B2

Clematis Group C

Mr. Wein kindly donated 3 of his beautiful Clematis to our Raffle Table!
Thank you, Mr. Wein!  (Wish I had won that night!)




Fred Wein (speaker bio by Shelagh J.)

You might say that growing clematis has been in Fred’s family for close to a hundred years.

Fred is one of the founding owners of Clearview Horticultural Products in Aldergrove. He, along with his stepfather Charlie Baron and both their wives, started Clearview back in 1970. But Charlie and his father had been growing clematis in Ontario for over 50 years before that.

In 1975 Fred and his wife bought out the Barons, but it continues to be a family business. His son Fred Jr came into the business in 1983 with a degree in horticulture, and his other son Rob followed in 1989 with a degree in commerce.

It’s partly due to this new blood that Clearview has grown to where it is today. Although the garden shop is still at the original location in Aldergrove, the family business now has four locations and a staff that, at the peak of the season, exceeds one hundred.

Two of Fred’s grandsons have recently joined the business, with Rob Jr bringing a degree in horticulture, while Dustin has a background in business. Rob Jr’s interest in entomology has helped propel Clearview toward sustainable production, and Dustin does an excellent job at keeping the finances in check.

With so many hands helping out now, Fred has been able to spend more time indulging his passion for clematis breeding.



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Brian Minter Country Garden

What could be more fun than a “field trip” to a Garden Shop…especially one with such an expert Gardener as Brian Minter?

Brian shared some of his gardening tips with his eager audience.  Making thoughtful planting decisions was recommended, as well as arranging your plantings with an “artistic eye”.  Colour combinations, staggered plantings, and whimsical garden decorations were only some of his suggestions.

Brian also showed us some of his new favourites for 2018!

The Garden Shop is a delight to browse around… especially when the weather is so inclement this Spring!  These are just a few photos.








It was a fantastic way to start off our visit to the University of the Fraser Valley.  (The café was a welcome spot for a tasty lunch too!)  Needless to mention, many of us purchased some garden”goodies” to take home.

We highly recommend that you visit Brian Minter’s Garden Shop!  Check out the PoCo Garden Club on FaceBook for some really spectacular photography by Gordana!

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University of the Fraser Valley 2018

Our invitation to visit the Fraser Valley University, Agriculture/Horticulture Dept. was a special treat.

Tom Baumann, Associate Professor Agriculture Dept., was full of good humour as well as professional expertise!

The most recent PoCo Garden club donation was dedicated to an Aquaponics system and we were thrilled to learn about it and then actually see the initial setup. This type of research is so very important to sustainability!  Sustainability is essential for the providing future food sources for our growing populations while still addressing environmental protection.






What is Aquaponics? It is a combination of Aquaculture (the raising of fish and other aquatic animals in a tank) and Hydroponics (growing plants in water instead of soil).

With all parts of the system perfectly balanced (there’s where the research comes in!) it becomes a self-sustaining system! A simplified explanation is: Fish produce waste –> Microbes convert waste to fertilizer –> Plants filter water and absorb nutrients –> Clean water is returned to the fish    End result: humans can consume both fish and plants for food!

Here are some photos of the Aquaponics system. It’s still in progress, so we didn’t get to see any fish.  The conditions have to be just right before they are introduced.

It was exciting to see signs posted around the facility that credited our PoCo Garden Club for providing the funding for pieces of equipment!

Greenhouse Benching was purchased by the PoCo Garden Club.

The Fertilizer Injector System was also purchased by the PoCo Garden Club.








The students have amazing giant greenhouses in which to conduct their studies and research.








They have been growing papayas!

Sometimes a known virus is introduced so that the students can study how best to treat it.

Next stop was the more “tropical” greenhouse.  There were SO many different kinds of plants and everywhere there were students busy at work!  Tom Baumann seemed to have a great rapport with his students, who were eager to tell us about their studies.

Another greenhouse featured Jerusalem Artichokes. We were invited to take some home!  At the end, we also received small succulents as a little reminder of our visit.





A special surprise for our Club President (not in this photo) was a beautiful Bird of Paradise flower!








Thanks to our bus driver, all our plants were tucked safely away!

Time to head home after an eventful day!


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Of Seeds and Raffles!

Spring is definitely time to ponder one’s collection of seeds as well as head out to the Garden Shops or check the seed catalogues for inspiration!  Thanks to our member, Susan W. and her band of volunteers, the PoCo Garden Club now has its own seed collection for  members to share and trade.


One reminder: be sure to keep and return your brown  envelopes for future use by the Seed Exchange.

Want to keep track of your seed planting this year?  Go to the Garden Therapy website and download a free Seed Starting Journal!



Another bonus to being a Club member is the monthly raffle!  There are always new and interesting plants and articles to win… and the proceeds go back to the Club.


What a great club!  Happy growing!

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Large Scale Rejuvenation Projects by C. Dale

“Eagles Estate Rejuvenation” transversed the story of a property of elegance and prominent society in the past, the ensuing passage of years accompanied by disrepair, rediscovery leading to rejuvenation and restoration, and finally, a potentially sad ending where red tape and lack of funding may be erasing all the good deeds done.

It was, however, a most entertaining presentation of the 2006-07 Eagles Estate restoration by the Garden Project Manager, Catherine Dale!

She treated us to many “behind the scenes” tales of the original owners, Drs. Blythe and Violet Eagles, as well as highlights (lowlights?) of the massive enterprise in restoring the home and gardens after decades of neglect. An amazing fact: virtually all the funding went to the house renovation and the “award winning gardens” were renovated almost entirely by Ms. Dale’s ingenuity and the work of volunteers!

The original 1.6 acre Eagles Estate began with the construction of the beautiful house in 1929. The gardens were planned in 1937 by notable horticulturist Frank E. Buck. The City of Burnaby purchased the site in 1995 from UBC who had inherited it from the Eagles family. The Land Conservancy of BC operated offices inside the heritage house from 2003. At one point the house and interpretive center was open to the public from May to Thanksgiving. By 2012 TLC (The Land Conservancy) was in serious financial difficulties and this property, as well as others, was no longer maintained. The huge amounts of money (the staircase alone was a million dollar project!), labour, and volunteer efforts, seem to have landed in a dead end.

Ms. Dale had many fascinating (although often disheartening) stories to share, and one could certainly feel how she put her heart and soul into the garden restoration. One story was how she painstakingly built up a huge compost pile from plant debris and all the lawn clippings (what a huge lawn and she mowed it herself!) The compost pile was large, fertile, and ready to go. She came to work one day and it was simply GONE!  When she learned that the contractors had used it to fill a ditch, even compacting it down, she simply burst into tears.  In recompense, the contractors brought her a huge dump of stinky dirt!

Read more about this project online! Google: “Eagles Estate Bby”.

after restoration

today’s disrepair


Ms. Dale also was involved with restoration of the Baldwin House, a creation of the famous Arthur Lloyd Wright. We saw a beautiful photo of a “signature yard” with a beautiful pond edged with bamboo.  Ms. Dale then showed us the same pond later on, covered in scum.  It seems that the reconstruction crew put the septic system on the higher land above, which was leaking down to the pond! Let’s think “outside the box”, people!

Read more about this project online! Google: “Baldwin house Bby”.

Another interesting story was her involvement with the restoration of the historic Joy Kowaga house. The classic 1981 novel, Obasan, begins in this 1912 home. Joy Kowaga and her family were evicted from the house in 1942 and sent into internment in the Kootenays, along with over 22,000 other Canadians of Japanese ancestry.  Ms. Dale shared excerpts of her relationship with Ms. Kowaga, with particular focus on a certain cherry tree… no doubt the inspiration for Ms. Kowaga’s story, “Naomi’s Tree”.  In the years following 1942, this tree suffered many blights and odd choices of tree limbing, which Ms. Dale attempted to counteract.  Perhaps the final blow came when a young sapling, from this tree, was simply tossed aside when a renovation of the plumbing required some outside digging.

Read more about this project famous house and author online! Google: “Joy Kogawa house”.


Shall we say, after hearing this presentation, that Catherine Dale showed herself to be the very essence of optimism and hard work! She has kept her lively sense of humour and determination to succeed, no matter what!  Thank you, Catherine, for a most engaging presentation!


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IPM – Integrated Pest Management

At this month’s presentation by Paul Buikema we learned that Integrated Pest Management is “a process that uses all necessary techniques to suppress pests effectively, economically, and in an environmentally sound manner”. IPM has a 2 pronged approach, namely, to manage the plant environment to prevent problems and also to use documented thresholds to decide how and when to treat pests.

The first step involves monitoring, inspecting, and recording pest levels. These threshold levels help determine what is deemed “normal”, “acceptable”, or “in need of treatment”. For example, aphids are a common problem. It is important to get information on how many there are before you make the decision to bring in predatory insects, use pesticides, or simply remove the plant altogether. There are also important environmental issues to be considered, including temperature, humidity, light, water, and fertilizers.
Treatment of pests can be categorized into three main choices. Low impact pesticides may include soaps, mineral oil, vinegar, pyrethrin, sulphur, copper. Predators may include insects, nematodes, bacteria. chemical pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, as well as others.
Another consideration may be called “Cultural Options”. Should the plant in question be moved, pruned, or perhaps totally removed? One must also consider fertilizers and additives, whether the soil is acidic or alkaline and so on.
Unfortunately, it seems that removing the plant totally and choosing something more appropriate often seems to be the best choice!

The question of Chafer Beetles came up. Paul noted that what seems to be a total disaster at this time may not be a permanent problem. The Chafer Beetle issue seems to be in decline in areas such as New Westminster, which may be indicating that this is a cyclic problem which will eventually disappear, or at least be diminished, in Coquitlam in the next few years.

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