Winter Garden Insights


By Brian Nixon, Horticultural Manager

Winter is truly a special time at The Gardens, as this is the season to see the unique characteristics of many of the plants that don’t get a chance to showcase their true beauty in other seasons. Interesting features to look for are bright coloured and contorted branches, moss and lichen growing on trees, along with winter flowering shrubs and early bulbs. You can almost feel the energy as you look around, spring bulbs quietly awaiting their bloom, swollen buds on shrubs and plants just waiting for the opportunity to show their beauty.

Narcissus (Daffodil) in January

When I walk through The Gardens these days, I am amazed at the sight of early flowering bulbs, a reflection of our mostly mild winter thus far. These bulbs include Narcissus (Daffodil) in full flower as well as many Galanthus (Snowdrops) just beginning to flower. There is also a vast number of flowering shrubs to enjoy during the winter season. Some of my favorites include Mahonia bursting with bright yellow flowers, Callicarpa (Beautyberry) with their beautiful purple berries that the birds enjoy, Viburnum bodnantense with its stunning pink flowers, and Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) with bright yellow or orange spidery flowers and a spicy fragrance. These are just a few; read our blog “What’s in Bloom” for detailed descriptions of what to watch for throughout the season.

Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) with bright yellow or orange spidery flowers and a spicy fragrance

With the start of the new year, we begin preparing for the upcoming season. One of the first tasks on our list is pruning the ornamental fruit trees, and we also focus on larger landscape projects that we prefer to complete in the winter. This is a great time to visit The Gardens and take home some winter gardening tips if you are fortunate enough to cross paths with our gardeners.

Spring Prelude

The Blue Poppy Restaurant transformed into the Spring Prelude Indoor Garden

In the span of one week our talented team comes together to transform the Blue Poppy Restaurant into an amazing indoor floral display we call the “Spring Prelude”. It’s difficult to describe but picture this; as you enter the space you immediately feel at ease, not only with the visual experience but the natural sound of running water from an indoor pond and the fragrance of a wide variety of spring plants. This is a west coast inspired garden with ponds, water features and an added element of tropical colours. Three types of goldfish including Shubunkin, Comet and Sarasa swim gracefully in the pond.

Indoor ponds create a safe haven for goldfish

Our west coast winter can sometimes challenge our desire to present an outdoor display, but the Spring Prelude ensures a special experience for our visitors with a colourful indoor floral display as a reprieve from the outdoor elements.

Walking through the display, I see props and plant material coming together and sense that the bar has been raised yet again. Our gardening staff thrive on enhancing the visitor experience through carefully chosen plants to create the breathtaking indoor garden display that our visitors look forward to every year. We hope to see you soon.

Tropicals and spring plants come together in perfect harmony