Tenth Anniversary: Botanical Garden is growing well

Most Sunshine Coasters, and thousands of visitors have enjoyed the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden (SCBG) by now. You’ve come for pleasant walks or birdwatching, workshops or celebrations or to volunteer. You’ve come with family to picnic and play, with friends to enjoy the season, with your school or club, or by yourself for quiet time in a natural setting. 

Sara Ross, a young mother who first came for a celebration of life, says: “The SCBG is my sanctuary. It’s where I go when I need peace; it’s where I bring my three-year-old to show him how to just be in the moment. It’s the one place I have that, even though my husband never set foot there, I am able to find him and remember him, even three years after he passed away.” 

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In 2009 the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden Society purchased 40 acres (16 hectares), a derelict tree farm, at 5941 Mason Rd. in Sechelt. The vision was “to create a community treasure, a source of beauty and learning, raising awareness of the importance of plants in supporting all life.” The dream began in 2002, but it was bold determination, dedicated volunteers, and community support that made it grow into that treasure. June 29 was the tenth anniversary of the Garden. 

The SCBG serves our community as a beautiful place to experience plants and habitats, especially building familiarity with native species. One particular success is growing the Mt. Elphinstone rhododendrons from seed collected from the wild plants, giving the isolated high elevation patch a genetic back-up in case of wildfire. 

It is a great pleasure to watch children learn hands-on how pollination works for both plants and pollinators, how ponds support dragonflies, or which wild berries are delicious. 

Since 2013, we have helped people plan their home landscapes for the quickly changing climate, using less water and making better choices. Need help with the vegetable garden, tree planting, composting, or gardening with wildlife? Watch for a workshop. Each of over 300 workshops, lectures, tours, school visits and festivals has built local knowledge of the human-plant relationship. 

Some areas of the Garden are well-established – the Vegetable Garden, Rainforest and Wetland habitats and the Cook Rhododendron Walk – while others have just begun. The Mountainside Habitat is under way and we are raising funds to complete the Welcome Garden. The Botanical Garden will not be completed in one generation! 

Hundreds of generous local individuals, businesses and artists, foundations such as SC Community Forest and SC Community Foundation have grown the Garden’s capacity to serve. All levels of government have contributed, especially for the 2010 Groundworks infrastructure project. The costs of operating the Garden, paying the mortgage, and making improvements are constant pressures. Many public gardens face these same challenges. Our role is more vital than ever in these unprecedented times.

Staff, volunteers and supporters all long for more improvements – a better entrance, tidier garden beds, trees matured or pruned. But nothing uplifts the spirit like a walk around the paths, checking the label of a gorgeous tree, watching each new sign of the season. Level paths make exploration easy. 

The Garden is yours to enjoy. Come for a walk. Attend a workshop or lecture. Enjoy a festival or special event. Become a volunteer or donor. Consider the Pavilion for your family or business events, from weddings to retreats to celebrations of life. Let the beauty feed your soul.

For a brief Garden history, see coastbotanicalgarden.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Salal-June-2019.pdf

For more information about the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden, see their website at www.coastbotanicalgarden.org

The Garden’s summer hours are Friday to Wednesday (closed Thursday) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. by donation. Members enjoy unlimited visits to the Garden, early event notice, and discounts.

– Submitted by Paddy Wales

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