Native Plant Nursery

Propagating Native Plants

2017 Spring Update

Plant Sale at the Ag Hall 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

In the spring of 2017 our Native Plant Nursery began its 6th growing season. Staff and volunteers collected the first seeds in 2011 from across Mayne Island, and put them in an empty box full of promise. The opportunity to grow locally sourced plants for use in ecosystem restoration projects and home gardens was an exciting one. Over the years, we have built infrastructure such as a large fenced area and small greenhouse.

Each year we refine our growing techniques and explore new species to grow, and we can now successfully produce more than 30 different species. Many species of plants on Mayne Island are disappearing from the island due to unprecedented deer browse. We collect seeds and cuttings from as many different remnant populations as we can in order to protect and preserve the genetic diversity of these species. Each plant that is grown in a home garden is like a book in a living library of genetic diversity. We hope that one day deer populations will be lower, and these species and the ecosystems that depend on them will thrive on Mayne Island again.

Some recent pictures of some of our developing plants can be seen on our Facebook page

Native Plant Demonstration Garden

Hardscaping of the demonstration garden began in front of the Root Seller in the late Fall of 2015. The little garden is 16 foot on a side, gated and fenced. It features a path, a bench and an interpretive sign.

Here is the image which was used to create the interpretive sign - layout by Carly Palmer and Rob Underhill - which pays tribute to Vancity Savings whose grant made the demonstration garden possible.This is one of Rob's preliminary pencil sketches of roughly what plantings might go where.

The MICS Native Plant Garden is now complete. The garden will mature over time and more species will be added in the fall. The spring of 2017 should be a colourful one! Refer to the photo-essay below that tracks the construction from the arrival of materials to completion.

A big thanks to Michael Dunn, Malcolm Inglis, and Bill Warning for helping construct the garden; to Rob Underhill for concept, layout, stonework and a lot of bull-work; to Mike Nadeau for building and donating the entrance gate; to Deb Foote and Garth Owen for donating the bench. Finally, thank you to Vancity for financially supporting the project and our native plant nursery. If you have questions about the plants in the garden or would like to purchase some for your own garden please come up and visit our office above the Root Seller.

Materials On Site
Define the plot & gather materials.
Stonewall Start
Up the wall - stone by well matched stone.
Defining the Beds
Michael & Malcolm in the sun, fall 2015
Spreading Soil
Michael spreading soil for the two beds
Setting a Gatepost
Post-haste on the job at the gate
Wall & Posts
Posts and wall for the garden enclosure
Spring, just prior to planting
Springtime! Bench in place & pots out
Garden Finished
The gate & deer fence up. Plants planted

2013-14 Update

The native plant nursery is now equipped with a very effective small greenhouse built on site by MICS Staff Biologist, Rob Underhill. Approximately 300 native trees and shrubs have been grown from seed or cuttings to be used in the restoration of parks, or sold for the re-vegetation of private properties.

Basic Frame
Roof Coming
Just Windows
..& There They Are
Bevel Siding Next

The Nursery Beginnings

The Mayne Island Conservancy Society began a native plant propagation program in the spring of 2011. Having a ready supply of local native plants is a key component in completing ecosystem restoration projects on Mayne Island. In addition, native plants are growing in popularity with home gardeners, and for good reason. With so many beautiful plants native to Mayne Island, there are endless options for gardeners looking to connect their home gardens with the natural world.

MICS Executive Director Michael Dunn kindly allows us to use a fenced area in his yard for the nursery, and lends a hand in caring for the plants. The growing area was doubled in size in the late spring of 2013 (see picture on the right.) The plants we grow are used in restoration of community parks such as Henderson Park, and are available for sale to land owners wishing to use native plants in their home gardens or restoration projects. Plants and seeds are sold at our bi-weekly attendance at the Farmers Market throughout the Summer, native plant expert, Rheanna Drennan presiding. These offerings have been so well received that they can purchased at the Mayne Island Building Centre (Home Hardware) during the 2013 growing season. All plants are started from seeds or cuttings collected on Mayne Island. We water our plants with rain water from Michaelís collection system, and incorporate natural organic matter into our growing medium in order to avoid the use of artificial fertilizers.

The Plants

We are currently growing 2,500 individual plants from 34 different Mayne Island Species. Click here for a full list of plants being grown. A number of factors determine which plants we try to grow including their suitability for use in restoration of natural areas, attractiveness to home gardeners, and whether or not they can be successfully grown using the tools at our disposal.

Please contact our staff biologist Rob Underhill for information on plant sales. The selection of species ready for sale changes over time. We are happy to provide advice on planting time and location on request, as well as post planting care.

The Propagators & The Process

MICS staff biologist Rob Underhill manages the nursery with the help Rheanna and Michael Dunn. Former staff member Chris Photo of team repositioning gateFretwell started the nursery in 2011 and collected many of the seeds that have grown into plants today and his great foundational work was continued in 2012 by Rob's wife, Lauren. The picture on the left shows MICS Director Mike Nadeau and team relocating the gate during the recent garden expansion. We welcome volunteers to help us sow seeds, start cuttings, and re-pot plants. If you are interested in sharing your knowledge, learning something new, or just getting outside, give us a call!

All plants are started from seeds and cuttings collected on Mayne Island. This ensures that plants come from local genetic stock and are adapted to local conditions. Great care is taken to ensure that natural populations are not overly stressed by our collection activities. No more than 5% of seed is collected from a population in a given year, and records are kept so that collecting from the same population in consecutive years can be avoided.

Some species grow quickly to maturity within a single year while others such as Camas can take up to seven years to reach maturity! Most species take about two years to grow from seed or cutting to a stage where they are ready for planting. If you are interested in growing native plants yourself we are happy to answer questions or provide advice.

Each of these 252 one gallon pots contains Arbutus seeds. The Arbutus berries were collected in November from various locations around Mayne Island, soaked in water for one week, and then the seeds were removed and dried. Arbutus seeds require a period of cold temperature in order to break dormancy and begin to grow.Chris Fretwell distributes native plant seeds evenly over freshly filled starter trays. Seeds from more than 40 different species were collected throughout the summer of 2012, and planted in the fall.
This plug tray has been seeded with Blue Wildrye, a common native grass species on Mayne Island. Blue Wildrye is a great native plant for use in restoration of disturbed sites such as roadsides. It establishes quickly and can tolerate poor growing conditions, helping to prevent erosion and the establishment of non-native plants.A trick we learned from Marc Lauckner is that old venetian blinds can be cut up and made into excellent planting labels (donít worry Marc; weíll replace your blinds soon!).

More Pictures

If you would like to find out more about native plants the Conservany team is still running a wonderful Facebook feature "Native Plant of the Week" where we post a picture and a plant profile every week; sometimes there will be links to additional information, as well as the occasional informed comment from members & supporters. Meantime here are a few plant photographs and a couple more pics from the nursery's early days.

Camas in Bloom
Camas in Full Summer Bloom
Chocolate Lily
Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis)
Ocean Spray
Ocean Spray (not the Cranberry Cocktail)
Growing fields
A Lotta Germination Goin' On!
Leaf Mulch at Work
Gotta be Garry Oak under all that Mulch!
Spring Gold
Spring Gold just starting out

Native Plant Propagation Workshop

In early 2012 a very interested crowd attended this workshop - a report, pictures and handout materials are still available on our Talks & Walks page

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