“I recently came across the Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook, and what great timing, as I am in the process of converting my front yard into a native plant garden and was just starting the detailed plan to figure out what to plant where. This book has done most of the work for me. What a fantastic resource!”—Jody Watson, CRD Harbours & Watershed Coordinator
“I just received your wonderful publication yesterday and have already read it cover-to-cover. I now feel so encouraged instead of defeated by our rocky, exposed, broom-ridden slope, I can't wait to get going!” —Mary Anne Crossman, Galiano Island resident
The expanded second edition of The Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook: Nurturing Native Plant Habitat in Garry Oak Communities has been reprinted (2011) and is free to download (PDF 9MB). We've kept the same great designs for Garry oak meadows, woodlands, rock outcrops and container gardens, and we've added tips for attracting pollinators and removing invasive plants. You'll also find tips on planning your native plant garden, acquiring plants, mulching, caring for Garry oak trees, dealing with deer and more — all with full-colour photos and plan drawings.
For a limited time, if you want a printed copy of the handbook they are available by donation and may be picked up at the Habitat Acquisition Trust office (661 Burnside Rd E, Suite #202). Best to call in advance to make sure someone is in the office. 250-995-2428.
Native plant gardening has become popular in this region and no wonder! A glance through any field guide to the flora of coastal BC offers up a lush selection of colourful plants with exquisite textures and shapes, all locally adapted to our fickle climate and generally acidic soils. What more could a gardener ask for in these days of climate uncertainty than a charming plant that is completely at home in this environment?
Native plant gardening is highly rewarding:
When many people in an area choose to protect and restore Garry oak habitats, the benefits are even greater. Neighbourhoods with plenty of greenspace are known to have lower turnover, creating a greater sense of community. And, when the time comes to sell, these properties usually sell very quickly and at higher prices. Natural areas also help to clean the air and water, and reduce flooding.
Let others know what you are doing and why it is so important.
There are alien invaders lurking in residential gardens. Did you know that the poisonous plant, Daphne laureola, or spurge laurel, is often mistaken for rhododendron? Check your yard for this plant and remove it with caution. See the WorkSafe BC Toxic Plant Warning. There are many more invasive plants that can harm Garry oak habitat, including English ivy, Scotch broom, English holly and Himalayan blackberry. Read more about invasive plants.
Even apartment-dwellers can have a Garry oak garden! This design is scaled to fit a balcony container and includes some of our favourite wildflowers that naturally occur in Garry oak meadows. We’ve made room in one corner of the planter for a honeysuckle that can be trained along the balcony railing and could attract a few hummingbirds. You could just as easily grow the honeysuckle in a separate planter. Let the stonecrop spill over the side of the container. We show a few plants in some cases to help fill out the space a little faster. Remember that the plants will grow and need dividing so don’t try to cram too many plants into the container to begin with. The trick to keeping a container garden healthy is to thin and divide the plants every few years. If you can only find or afford a single chocolate lily, start with one and divide the bulbs after it has flowered for a few years. Some plants such as nodding onion will reproduce and spread from seed. In the spring look around your plants for little onion shoots. Carefully lift the tiny bulbs without harming the roots and transplant them into a small pot. When they have grown a bit larger you can transplant them into a new space or trade with other native plant gardeners. A wide assortment of Garry oak-associated plants can be grown in containers. This is one design out of many possibilities!
The Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook provides design plans and plant lists for: