Our Garden planning follows several vital principles:
- We demonstrate sustainable, organic, horticultural practices as an inspiration to all gardeners and landscapers.
- We take inspiration from the land itself, its history as a forest (logged about one hundred years ago), a food farm, and latterly as a tree farm.
- We protect and enhance the biodiversity already present, including both rare and familiar plants suitable to our changing climate.
- Our aim is to increase awareness of nature’s richly varied and precious heritage, especially plant life.
- We hope the Botanical Garden will inspire residents of the Sunshine Coast, as well as the many visitors and tourists we welcome. Signage, programs, and other forms of interpretation are crucial to helping visitors understand our plants and their stories.
To create and maintain a Pacific Northwest botanical garden that inspires and engages the community in plant appreciation and acts as a catalyst for learning and research about horticulture, conservation, and land stewardship.
By 2025 the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden (the Garden) will be a place for visitors to appreciate plants and raise awareness of the value of a botanical garden as a place to reflect and connect with nature.
The Garden will protect and preserve vulnerable plants and ecosystems and work to mitigate the impact of climate change on plants and their habitats.
We will conduct ourselves with honesty, respect, accountability, integrity and be true to our mission.
We will develop the garden with respect for the history of this land.
- We foster a relationship between the land, people and nature.
- We value accessibility so we will ensure our garden is a safe, welcoming and informative place for learning about ecology and habitat.
- We value education and use best practices in operations through interpretation, programming and demonstrations.
- We will be responsible to science and the need for climate adaptation.
- We have pride in our story and aim for excellence in acting on our vision.
- We will be true to the regional nature of the garden with native plants and selection of those that grow well here.
- We respect the contributions of our community and will be responsible to their trust.
2002 – 2013
- The Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden Society was formed in 2002, quickly receiving legal status as a registered charity and non-profit society. We searched for land from Egmont to Port Mellon, and in 2008, first viewed what became our permanent home. In the interim, we signed up 750 members, held numerous educational events, plant sales, and garden tours.
- In 2003, we created the Native Plant Demonstration Garden in Sechelt, and in 2005, contributed plants and volunteer labour to establish the gardens at the Seaside Centre.
- In January 2008, we first viewed the 40-acre farm on Mason Road in Sechelt that would become the Garden.
- July 1,2009, the purchase was completed using privately donated money, and a mortgage.
- Basic infrastructure was built in 2009 – 2010, assisted by Federal, Provincial, Municipal and Regional government grants, many private donations from our members and others, as well as in-kind donations from many local businesses. Volunteers created and tended the Veggie Patch, the Pavilion gardens, removed invasive plants, and began creating a network of paths. We also opened a family Picnic ‘n’ Play area, and an events lawn.
- June 2013, we officially opened the Rainforest Grove, the first of four phases of the Native Plant Garden. The Bruce & Lis Welch & Family Rainforest Platform at the edge of Censi Creek was completed and offering striking views of the ravine and a spot to take in the many appealing greens of the mossy, ferny Rainforest.
- Work began in July 2013 on the next two phases of the Rain Shadow and Pond/Wetland areas. Rain Shadow refers to the drier coastal regions, such as Garry Oak meadows, and rocky outcroppings along the Sunshine Coast. To simulate this microclimate, two large berms were created to give the oaks and arbutus trees better drainage. Many spring wildflowers and plants thrive in rock crevices of the berms. The Pond and Wetland attracted birds, amphibians and insects almost immediately after installation.
- In 2014, many plants native to our region were planted on land, in shallow water, and especially along the wet margins. This has become a hub of biodiversity. Visitors can observe the diverse aquatic life from the bridge over the pond, thanks to funding from the Sunshine Coast Community Forest.
- Thanks to a significant donation of mature plants from their North Vancouver garden, we created the Alleyne and Barbara Cook Rhododendron Walk, a collection that offers year-round beauty, thanks to the many shrubs and understory plantings.
- Work began on a Master Plan for the Garden with the assistance of Lees + Associates Landscape Architects from Vancouver. This multi-year plan lays out a roadmap for Garden development for the next several years. Redesign of the entrance was determined to be the optimal first phase to tackle, and fundraising for this project began.
- The Garden entrance was greatly enhanced with the redevelopment of the parking lot, improved signage, and a better parking layout offering a pleasant transition from Mason Road to the pedestrian plaza and gate.
- Work began on the Cascadia Garden, an area that features trees, shrubs, and perennials usually found on the western side of the Cascade Range, from Northern California through to Washington State. As the climate warms, these species are expected to migrate north.
- The walking route from the Garden entrance, with a loop through the Native Plant Gardens, was chosen to be the first phase of our accessible path project. Completed in the spring of 2023, the improved route offers a firmer and wider walking area to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers and to be universally accessible to all visitors.
- An existing hoop house was relocated to the Farmhouse Meadow and will become a key part of our expanding propagation program. Planning has begun for establishing an arboretum in the Garden. This will be a long-term project as significant ground preparation must be done before any trees are planted. We are hoping to propagate many of the trees needed, and the Propagation House will become the hub for this work.
- Improved, permanent interpretive signs will be installed throughout the Garden in late spring 2023.
We are committed to paying our staff a living wage here on the Sunshine Coast and are proud to be listed as one of British Columbia’s Living Wage Employers.
Find out more about Living Wage in BC.
We are grateful to our Board Members and staff for their commitment, and their passion and expertise they bring to the Garden and to their work. Get to know them:
Meet our Board Members
Jean Bennett - President
After living in various rural and urban communities in BC, Jean Bennett moved to the Sunshine Coast in 1996. Jean has worked with a wide variety of community-based non-profits both on the Sunshine Coast and in the Lower Mainland.
She is deeply concerned about biodiversity loss and the impact of climate changes on our local ecosystems and is interested in the role the Botanical Garden can play in mitigating the effects of both.
Cathy Hallam - Vice President
Cathy Hallam is a retired Human Resources Professional. Her career spanned 30 years in the BC public healthcare setting. She is particularly passionate about building and maintaining relationships, and values being involved in her community – through membership and volunteer opportunities. Cathy grew up and lived in the Central Interior of BC for most of her life.
Following volunteering for a couple seasons in the Veggie Garden at the Botanical Garden, Cathy was invited to join the Board. Becoming involved with the Botanical Garden shortly after arriving on the Coast, Cathy has discovered that the Garden has “wormed its way” into her heart and she’s very excited to work hard in new role as Vice President.
Will Heerschop - Treasurer
Will and his wife, who were both born and raised in Calgary, made the move to the Sunshine Coast in 2015 looking for a change of scenery and better weather. They both love to camp and are avid mountain bikers who bring along their puppy ‘Cadence’ wherever they go – he even has his own backpack!
Will currently works with the Sunshine Coast Credit Union in the Commercial Services Department. Prior to this, he worked as an Operations Manager for a Central Operations Center for a cheque-clearing company. Will also gives his time as a volunteer firefighter with the Sechelt Fire Department.
“I enjoy volunteering and giving back to the community. My ‘Bubba’ always had the best garden and flowers in the neighborhood and I always wanted the same green thumb, so volunteering for the Botanical Garden was a way to extend my green thumb.”
Rosemary Bates Terry - Director
Rosemary Bates Terry moved to the Sunshine Coast in 1994 following careers first as a newspaper reporter and then a CBC Radio producer in Winnipeg and Toronto. Since moving to Sechelt, she worked for five years as programmer for the Festival of the Written Arts, served on the board of the Coast Recital Society, and has co-taught courses at Capilano University’s Elder College on the history of everyday essentials such as eating, drinking, gardening, and textiles.
She has served on the Botanical Garden Board for several terms and was a founding supporter of the Garden. With her late husband Bill Terry, she co-authored Beauty by Design: Inspired Gardening in the Pacific Northwest (2012, Touch Wood Editions).
Douglas Justice - Director
Douglas had his initial exposure to horticulture in his parents’ garden in Vancouver and at the family farm in Duncan. His passion for plants eventually led him into nursery work, then to degrees in horticulture and botany, which spurred him to pursue a career in teaching and public garden management.
Douglas is Associate Director, Horticulture & Collections at UBC Botanical Garden. He teaches in UBC’s Landscape Architecture program and in the Garden’s Horticulture Training Program, and is currently working on a manual of Vancouver’s cultivated woody plants.
Joyce Gould - Director
Joyce Gould has been visiting the Sunshine Coast for over 25 years before moving to the area in 2022. She has had a strong interest in plants for most of her life starting with time spent on her grandparents’ farm and gardens, as well as at the family cabin.
Joyce went on to get degrees in Botany and Conservation Biology from the Universities of Alberta and Toronto and has worked in the high arctic, Ontario and Alberta documenting the biodiversity of natural places.
She has a strong interest in the conservation of biodiversity, especially rare and endangered plants, and in the communication of scientific findings to the public. She sees botanic gardens playing a huge role in conserving and fostering an appreciation of all plants and is excited to be part of the team.
Paddy Wales - Director
Paddy is a founding member of the Garden, past-president, Board member for several previous terms, and a tireless supporter of the Garden. She has helped to create many of the Garden’s functions, including the first Salal (2003), Gardeneers (the first children’s program), and the development of the actual Botanical Garden.
A former elementary school teacher, long-time garden photographer and writer, she brings broad perspectives. Her vision never wavers for realizing the potential of the Garden and she is an inspiration to us all.
Meet our Staff
Mary Blockberger - Manager
Mary worked in her family’s printing business for many years before leaving to pursue her love of gardening. After a few years in a retail garden centre, Mary started her own small landscaping company in the Lower Mainland. She relocated to the Sunshine Coast in 2005 after spending summers in Secret Cove since the mid-1960s.
In 2006, she joined the Board of the SCBGS and was involved in the Society’s search for suitable land. In 2010, she was Board President overseeing the Groundworks project, which included the construction of the Garden Pavilion as well as significant land improvements.
In 2012, when the Society realized the time for paid staff had arrived, Mary was honoured to become the first full-time employee. Although most of her time is now spent in an office managing the day-to-day administrative duties of the Garden, she still has her passion for and desire to have her hands in the dirt.
Nola Honeywell - Gardener
Nola is very happy to be in the garden. Growing up part-time on Gambier Island fostered a deep friendship with plants and the natural world. Whether it be farming or landscaping, she is always looking for a way to have her hands in the dirt. She received her Level 1 and 2 towards a Red Seal in Horticulture from the Pacific Horticultural College and is thrilled to be putting her passion and skills to use at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden.
Heather Vince - Development Officer
Bio to come!