Big spring rhodo sale takes over Cowichan Exhibition Saturday

The Cowichan Rhododendron Society has been holding spring plant sales for more than 20 years and five years ago created the Cowichan Valley Garden Fair at the Cowichan Exhibition on the first weekend in May.

You’ll want to get there early for this Saturday’s 2015 event.

"Everybody in the Cowichan Valley knows that early birds get the best and choice plants at this don’t miss event," said Sandra Stevenson, Rhodo Society president.

"We open at 10 a.m. sharp and we are ready for the big crowds. Come early and enjoy our free coffee and goodies as well as free entry."

Each year the four-hour fair has expanded and more than 20 vendors, growers and plant sellers will offer thousands of rhododendrons, other plants and garden supplies to the public for 2015.

"Due to an apparent shortage of rhodos this year we have obtained a supply from U.S. nurseries in Washington and Oregon to supplement the plants available from local growers," said Stevenson.

"So we have a very broad selection of exceptional colours and sizes of rhodos and companion plants this year along with 25 new carts to help buyers move their favourite plants to the checkout. Our ever popular truss (flower) displays of local rhodos will be showcased as you enter the Cowex hall."

There are more than 1,000 species of rhododendrons found in nature worldwide, mostly from the Himalayas, India, China and the tropics but they also occur locally near Shawnigan Lake and Nanaimo. From these species, over the past two centuries breeders have created more than 25,500 hybrids with every flower colour of the rainbow, many leaf styles, sizes and underleaf colours.

"This year our community donations will go to the BC Forest Discovery Centre, the Snipe Fountain in Chemainus and the Crofton Museum" said Stevenson.

"Rhododendrons also make an excellent Mother’s Day gift as, unlike cut flowers, they can last for 50 years or more in the garden and be a continuous reminder of her child’s generosity and love."