There are few things in life that provide as much satisfaction as watching plants grow. Many of us first experience this as small children, peering down at germinating bean seeds in classrooms scented by washable paint and warm peanut butter sandwiches. The small act of planting can have an impact that happily grows beyond our control, and in the case of trees and shrubs, extends beyond our lifetimes. For me, ultimate satisfaction comes from watching wildlife interact with the plants we’ve started. Insects feeding, birds nesting, whole food chains establishing from the simple act of planting. Recognizing the value of native plants as an essential building block of healthy ecosystems, the Mayne Conservancy started a native plant nursery in 2011 to provide a source of locally adapted and available plants. As we’ve learned and expanded our resources, the nursery has slowly evolved over time to meet demand for our restoration sites and for local landholders.

Caterpillar of the pale swallowtail butterfly making a cocoon on a red alder tree planted by the Mayne Conservancy.

The Beginning

As with many Conservancy projects, our native plant nursery first germinated thanks to the goodwill of a few individuals. Leanna Boyer and Mark Lauckner first provided a small area of land, as well as materials and advice. Volunteers like Michael Dunn helped collect and sow our first seeds. Soon the nursery moved to a larger space at Michael Dunn and Jess Willows’ home, where it has slowly expanded over the past 10 years. While the nursery is run by staff, volunteers continue to play an essential role in improving infrastructure and propagating plants. Though many volunteers have been involved, Irene Barrett, Joan Sutherland, and Mike Nadeau deserve special mention for their extensive contributions over the years.

Some of the first plants started in what is now a thriving native plant nursery.

After a couple of years, the first plants were ready for planting, and we had filled our small fenced growing space. It was obvious that growing in-house was an effective way to ensure a viable source of locally adapted plants. Not only did we have a reliable source of plants for restoration projects, but it was a great way to learn about the plant life cycles and engage with local land stewards. Over the next ten years the nursery kept expanding every few years: a small greenhouse was added and we refined our propagation methods. Through experimentation, research, and consultation with other growers we figured out which species grew well from seed and which grew best from cuttings. We now grow about 45 different native plant species.

The Conservancy now grows a diversity of native plants for habitat restoration and sale to private landholders.

2022 Nursery Expansion

Thanks to some generous community donations and a $2000 grant from the Capital Regional District, we recently completed our latest expansion and replaced our shade structures with a more effective design, increasing our production capacity by about 30%. To date we have produced approximately 6,000 native plants, mostly trees and shrubs.

The shade-cloth structures and nursery expansion were completed in the late spring of 2022.

Plant Sale October 1st 2022

While many of our plants are destined for restoration projects, some are also grown for sale to local land stewards. If you are interested in purchasing native plants please take a look at our current availability and pricing here. We will be holding an in-person plant sale on Saturday October 1st, 2022 at the Farmer’s Market from 10am until 1pm. Conservancy members are invited to place pre-orders for pickup on October 1st. To place a pre-order, email Rob at biologist@mayneconservancy.ca. To update your membership, go here. If you have a larger project in mind, we’d love to hear from you. We’re happy to advise local land stewards on how to produce native plants on their own or grow a custom order. We continue to offer a popular and free Landholder Consultation Program designed to help landholders learn about the natural features of their properties. Click here to learn more about that service.


1 Comment

Wendy Tyrrell · September 6, 2022 at 9:08 am

Well done and congratulations on your native plant garden successes! Cheers to many more!

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