Milner Gardens gets makeover

By Janina Stajic

Professional arborists safely removed 16 hazardous trees from Vancouver Island University’s Milner Gardens and Woodlands.

Some of the trees were more than 48 metres high and were in danger of falling, posing a safety hazard for VIU students who study horticulture at the gardens, as well as to the thousands of visitors who come to the gardens throughout the year.

Geoff Ball, Milner’s executive director said the giant trees were also threatening the health of the garden.

“Plants were suffering from lack of light. They were struggling to grow and grassy areas were being taken over by moss,” he said. “Our famous rhododendron garden was also affected, as some of our plants had stopped producing buds.”

The project, in early January, has paid off as visitors are already commenting on the garden’s look.

“They feel it’s lighter and more open and overall more aesthetically pleasing, giving them a greater appreciation of the variety of plants we have at Milner,” said Ball. “Some of the mossy areas will switch back to grass again this spring. I’m also confident this will have a positive effect on the rhododendrons, and that a year from now they will once again produce strong buds.”

Milner Gardens and Woodlands is a 28-hectre property in Qualicum, donated to VIU in 1996. It’s home to protected old-growth Douglas fir and native and non-native plants, including more than 400 rhododendron specimens.

The gardens and the refurbished Camellia Tea Room, housed in a historic home on the property built in 1931, are open to the public every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Beginning Mar. 28, the gardens will be open from Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the tea room from 1-4 p.m.

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