Partnership with VIU / Milner Gardens & Woodland
MARS is proud to support Milner Gardens & Woodland by donating plants and providing volunteer labour for grounds maintenance and development of new gardens. Our most recent undertaking was our contribution of species rhododendrons and labour to develop the Grieg Rhododendron Species Garden.
Intrepid MARS volunteers tackled everything from fence construction, to spreading several tons of mulch, to planting the donated rhododendrons, to constructing shade-cloth shields to protect the newly-planted rhodos.
The Species Garden is the result of many years of planning and work through a unique partnership of Vancouver Island University, Milner Gardens and the members of the American Rhododendron Society chapters on Vancouver Island.
From the Milner Gardens & Woodland e-newsletter issued on March 23, 2018: “The goal of the proposed garden would be to highlight the tremendous diversity found within the genus-Rhododendron, including some of the unique and rare species that are threatened in the wild, and representative species from key regions where they are found naturally, and in some cases, are endangered. As most of the historic rhododendrons at Milner Gardens & Woodland are hybrids, the species garden would also highlight many of the parent species of these historic rhododendrons.”
The project originated with an idea at the opening of Milner Gardens in 1998 and moved forward in 2008 only to be stalled by an economic downturn. Then in 2013 it took on new life when the Vancouver Island ARS chapters agreed to work together with the two other key partners. On Sunday, April 22, 2018, more than 150 plant enthusiasts gathered to celebrate this memorable achievement.
The Grieg Rhododendron Species Garden is named after Ted and Mary Greig, recipients of the ARS Gold Medal. Mary Greig of Royston on Vancouver Island was a pioneer hybridizer and propagator of rhododendrons, and many of her plant progeny thrive in Milner Gardens to this day. The Garden was officially opened to the public with a ribbon-cutting by Jean Greig, the late Jim Greig’s wife:
Special guests at the opening included VIU President Dr. Ralph Nilson, Chief Michael Recalma of the Qualicum First Nation, Geoff Ball, Executive Director of Milner and descendants of Ted and Mary Greig for whom the garden is named.
Work will continue for some time to complete the Garden’s collection of 250 rhododendrons, along with benches, companion plantings and interpretive signs, and MARS is pleased to provide our continuing support to the project.