Special Interest Groups

Special Interest Groups are informal sub-groups of Garden Club members who share a special interest in a particular aspect of gardening.  All members are welcome to join any of the groups; please contact the leader(s) indicated below. New groups can be formed if enough members show an interest in a particular topic; contact our President to discuss: president@ssigardenclub.ca.

Special Interest Groups are only available for Garden Club members, and any fees associated with the Special Interest Groups are on top of the Garden Club membership dues.

An Interest Group devoted to the in’s and out’s of local food production, with a special emphasis on Winter Gardening Techniques. If you grow (or want to grow) your own food, join us. We have monthly meetings, sharing our fruit and veggie growing successes and failures, hosted in members’ gardens, following the advice of our mentor, Linda Gilkeson www.lindagilkeson.ca. We organize seasonal plant and seed swaps, group buying opportunities, local food production garden tours. Contact Georgette Pauker for more info geopauker@gmail.com.

Learn more about growing these beautiful, dramatic flowers.

Meet other iris and peony enthusiasts, visit their gardens, exchange expertise and share plants.

The SSI Garden club works very closely with the BC Iris Society.  Their website is located at: https://www.bcirissociety.com.

Meetings will reconvene in Spring 2024!

To join this group, contact Ted Baker at tedebaker41@gmail.com.

Hover over the photo to see the name of the plant and click to enlarge.

Irises come in many types and colours, hence the name the “Rainbow Flower”. They are the only plant genera I know of that has plants which will grow in almost any type of ecosystem, from those growing in the desert to some that grow in water. So no matter what your garden is like, you can find an iris that will fit! Planting specifics vary depending on type, and these will be discussed with each type.

BEARDED IRISES are divided into classes by size, season of bloom and form. For our purposes, they will be discussed as Tall Bearded and the smaller bearded types or Medians.  Bearded irises are best transplanted about a month after they bloom. They tend to go dormant at this time and start to grow again when moved. Plant them in well-drained, rich soil which gets at least six hours of sun. Water in well and keep moist until fall rains come. Once established, minimal water is required.

To keep clumps from losing both vigour and bloom, thin the clumps by taking out some of the old rhizomes (use a dandelion tool or screwdriver to pop them out). Lime the clumps and fertilize with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer as they start to grow in the spring.

Tall Bearded (TB) irises are the most popular and grow in many Salt Spring gardens. Many of the ones we see are referred to as “Historics”, meaning they were introduced over 30 years ago. They grow 70 cm (27.5 in) tall and higher.

Some Bearded irises also rebloom later in the season.  Many hybridizers are working hard to extend the bloom season by concentrating the rebloom gene in their breeding programs. 

Smaller types (Standard Dwarf, Intermediate, Border and Miniature Tall Bearded) are up to 70 cm tall and are planted and cared for in the same manner as the TB irises.

SIBERIAN IRISES are a great garden plant. The foliage is grassy and looks good all year. They bloom in late May and early June in a wide range of colours. Hybridizers have recently added many new colours to the Siberian palate, including pinks, tans, reds and wonderful patterns. They are easy to grow and are almost disease-free. Once a clump is established, they are very drought-tolerant. When Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park was established years ago, the houses in the bay were moved out. One house had three established clumps of Siberian irises, which still continue to bloom beautifully without attention or irrigation.

They are best transplanted in early spring or just after they have finished blooming, or in the early fall. Plant in a well-drained, rich site about one and a half inches deep. Water in well and keep moist the first year. Fertilize in the spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.  After bloom is finished, cut or pull off the stalk at the base. Cut the foliage down to about 4 inches in the fall.

SPURIA are the irises that florists like best. Like peonies, they can be cut and placed in cold storage until they are needed. They are tall and elegant in the garden. They bloom in mid-June in a good range of colours including blue, purple, yellow, white, tan, wines and bi-colours. They transplant best in early spring. Plant about 2 inches deep in well-drained, rich soil. They can be mulched to conserve moisture and to help with weed control.

If you do not have enough water, you can stop watering in the summer and they will go dormant and the leaves will die back. If you chose to do this, don’t water them while they are dormant or else the rhizomes will rot. When the fall rains come, new growth will appear.

JAPANESE IRISES are considered the Queen of the irises. It is true that they are particularly elegant. They come with three, six and nine or more falls, in a range of colours including white, pinks, blues, purples and many shades in between. They also boast many patterns, but where they shine is in the size of the flowers, which can be eight inches across. The blooms sit tall atop stiff stems.

Of all the irises, they respond to good care and will give ample rewards if heavily fertilized with nitrogen and kept well watered. A good time to transplant is just after they have finished blooming;  plant them 10 to 12 cm deep. This depth is because, unlike other irises, Japanese irises root up the stem. Eventually the roots will reach the top and vigour will be compromised, then the iris will have to be replanted.

There are nearly 300 SPECIES of irises which are native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are a wonderful addition to any garden. Species and Species Crosses have been included here.

There are 11 PACIFIC COAST IRIS SPECIES which range from northern California to mid-Washington. There were probably some in British Columbia before the last ice age. They do cross in nature and have been hybridized extensively to give a wonderful range of form, colour and patterns.

Write-up on peonies to come soon in March!

The Permaculture Group meets monthly at different member’s homes. We tour that garden, ask questions, and brainstorm suggestions. Sometimes we share plants, cuttings, or seeds. Some people have more experience and some have very little. All are welcome. Contact Kerrie O’Donnell at odkerrie12@gmail.comt if you would like to join this group, or need more information.

Our mission statement is to foster knowledge, interest, sharing, creativity and information to members who have a particular enthusiasm for cacti and succulents. Meetings are usually held every second month at a member’s home. Members can volunteer at any time to:

  • Host a meeting
  • Suggest discussion topics of interest
  • Lead discussion on a specific topic
  • Bring treats
  • Show and tell or bring something to share.

Meetings include a tour of the host member’s garden. Field trips to other gardens or to nurseries are sometimes organized.  Contact Andria Scanlan at andria.scanlan@gmail.com if you are interested in joining this group.

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