What grows in Nanaimo?
Don’t be surprised to find an olive tree flourishing in your neighbour’s garden or maybe your own.
When it comes to growing garden variety, Nanaimo is pretty much a gardener’s paradise.
Why? Location is everything and Nanaimo’s, on the southeast side of Vancouver Island, makes for a relatively warm year-round climate.
Gail Hudson, vice-president of the Nanaimo Horticultural Society, said rhododendrons, Japanese maples, hydrangeas and all sorts of roses are eager growers around these parts and about what you’d expect to find in mild climate zones.
But surprises are lurking past the garden gate.
In spite of Nanaimo’s relatively northern latitude, figs, olives, grapes, even the odd banana will flourish given the right care and attention.
“Actually, a lot of people are growing figs and now more and more people are growing olives,” Hudson said. “Just in the last few years, particularly. You have to put some landscape fabric around them in the winter or bring them in, but they survive.”
These days warm climate ornamentals share garden plots with edibles. Clematis share climbing posts with scarlet runner beans and lettuce has become the new perennial bed edger.
Hudson said Nanaimo’s climate is getting warmer, new varieties are benefitting and local gardeners are continuing to push the boundaries of what they can grow here.
Succulents and even some forms of cacti are becoming more common.
More people are taking up gardening too. Community gardens are sprouting crops around town and apartment and condo dwellers are finding space for patio vegetable plots.
“Because people are becoming more conscious about what they’re eating, they want to start having vegetables and even if you don’t have space, you can grow them in with your flowers or in pots,” Hudson said. “Lots of people are growing them in pots now.”