Q1: How has your social and educational background translated to your work? What made you choose this career path – was there a ‘moment’, or was it gradual?
A: I got both my degrees at UVic; the first was an undergraduate degree in biology, and the second was a master of science in biology with a focus on botany and palynology, where I studied the ancient ecosystems of Vancouver Island through the lens of pollen. I was always inspired by taxonomy – classes and names of plants were a particular interest of mine. I have always been passionate to the point of obsession about the native plants of this island. I started a native plant nursery immediately after graduation; I’ve always been taken by the native species.
Q2: Do you find that there is a lot of promotional work and marketing involved in your business, or does the community come to you organically?
A: We do a lot of educational work, through classes and workshops, which is kind of an inadvertent or alternative form of advertising. We don’t approach it as such though – we do educational work because we feel compelled and mandated to do so, and because we’re motivated by community involvement in stewarding native plants and supporting local ecosystems. Social media has been a great tool for connecting; we run our social media pages as a journal or outlet for our daily musings, and it allows people to keep up to date with our work at the same time.
Q3: Do you find there are different priorities between individuals and community groups and, say, municipal governments that work with SNP?
A: When we’re working with the general public, it’s often on private land, or if it’s community based we’re usually planning for planting boulevards or community gardens. With municipalities, it’s often public lands in question, such as rain gardens in transit areas or places like the Stoneridge Wetlands. The main difference is usually the degree of expertise. Municipalities come to the table with strong planning frameworks in place, whereas with individuals and communities it’s more of a process of social learning.
Q4: Native plant propagation – how does it work?
A: We look to nature to help us determine the steps we should take – so the local setting is important. Life histories of plants themselves follow seasonal cycles, and are influenced by soil features and life cycles, so it’s always a place-specific process. Here we grow for Southern Vancouver Island, which was arid summers and wet winters. Seed comes to maturity in the late Spring, around June. Some plants germinate in the fall, and some in the Spring – but for the most part, I recommend sowing in the fall.