With fall upon us, local gardeners are busy tucking up their gardens for the year and making plans for next year’s bounty.
For 50 years, the Esquimalt Garden Club has been an integral part of the local gardening scene.
The club hosted the first flower show of the calendar year in Greater Victoria in 1964 in Jubilee Hall with an impressive 93 exhibits. In that year, the tradition of demonstrations of gardening techniques also began, often in conjunction with other organizations such as the Victoria Horticulture Society.
Founding members of the club included Anne Wurtele and Hugh Brown, who donated a trophy in memory of his wife Florence who died in 1963. Each year the member that earned the most points in garden shows was presented with the Florence Brown Memorial trophy, which was discontinued some years ago as the club no longer holds parlour shows and flower competitions.
The club has worked closely with municipal gardeners over the years, with members providing hanging baskets and roses for the gardens at Saxe Point and trees for Esquimalt Gorge Park and West Bay Park.
The youth of the community have also benefited from the efforts of the garden club.
For many years the members sponsored a scholarship for an Esquimalt High School student studying agriculture or horticulture. While applicants have dropped off in recent years, the club continues to encourage students to come forward. Scholarship support is also provided for the Victoria Horticulture Society.
Every June the garden club participates in Buccaneer Days, selling hanging baskets and perennial plants to further the aims of the society to beautify Esquimalt. Other projects include ongoing tree planting, placement of public benches and assistance to area schools undertaking landscaping projects.
Of note, was the presentation in 2012 of two “Centennial Roses” to the township. One, Altissimo (chosen because it resembles a poppy) was planted by the lamp posts at the main entrance to Memorial Park. The second, also a climber and known as Dortmund, was planted in Freeman Ken Hill Park on Grafton Street.
Residents of Esquimalt have benefited greatly from the work, knowledge and generosity of the garden club. If you’re a gardener and interested in joining this long established community group, please phone Paul Wickens-Jobling at 778-265-5267.