Formed in 1979, the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP) is a non-profit that aims to become a centre of horticulture excellence, offering lifelong learning, conservation, and research. The facility includes 3.5 hectares of year-round demonstration gardens and 40 hectares of conservation park, which is home to numerous endangered plant species as well as a host of native bird species. General manager Deborah Donahue calls the HCP “a gardeners’ garden, connecting people with plants.”

Photos: HCP website

The HCP is also home to the Pacific Horticulture College, founded in 1987. The college provides year-long professional education that is provincially accredited and designated by the Industry Training Authority. The college offers both a foundation program and landscape apprenticeships, where students work in the classroom and in the gardens, applying their fresh knowledge. “There is always something new to learn within our world of gardening,” says Donahue.

The centre also has weekly programs that provide community education on a range of gardening-related topics. Ultimately the HCP hopes to build awareness and recognition as a horticulture conservation and learning centre. “HCP is dedicated to sharing the beauty and joy of gardening,” says Donahue, “and demonstrating the importance of plant diversity to life in our world.”

To keep the programming relevant and current, the college has increased the sustainability component of their courses and has added new ones such as sustainable food production and introduction to permaculture. “Sustainability is embedded within many of our other courses,” says Donahue, “with topics ranging from composting to invasive plant removal to integrated pest management practices.” One of the college’s goals is to produce graduates who are mindful of the impact of their practices as horticulture professionals.

As a learning centre, the HCP offers community education workshops on a variety of topics including: the Year Round Harvest Series with Linda Gilkeson, herbal workshops in spring and fall with Lily Fawn, beekeeping with Gordon MacKay, a backyard orchard workshop with Ryan Senechal, and basketry workshops with Joan Carrigan. Upcoming events can be found on the HCP website and their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

— Shayna Kuffert

College info session: Sept 25, 2017, 6–7pm
College contact: [email protected] | 250 479-3210

Did you like this article? Help us out.