Saanich Parks natural areas practitioner Gillian Tuson selects 15 Garry oak trees from Saanich’s Markham nursery to be planted at Bruce Hutchison Park in Saanich on Wednesday to celebrate National Tree Day. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Saanich plants 60 trees to mark 60 years

Saanich Parks celebrates alongside National Tree Day, Sept. 26

The Saanich Parks department celebrates 60 with 60 new Garry oak trees across eight Saanich parks on Wednesday.

The celebration coincides with National Tree Day on Sept. 26.

Gillian Tuson, Saanich natural areas practitioner, selected the first 15 trees on Tuesday to go in the ground at Bruce Hutchison Park on Wednesday. The five year old trees have been patiently growing at Saanich’s Markham nursery near VIATEC park.

“These are about five years old,” Tuson said. “They need to be have good root balls, need to be able to stand up to some wind.”

The public is invited to join members of Saanich Parks staff, Pulling Together volunteers and members of the North Quadra Community Association. Another 60 Camas bulbs will also be planted in the Garry oak meadow at Bruce Hutchison Park starting at noon.

“Supporting forests in Saanich — in this case the urban forest — helps contribute to our environmental integrity and climate change resilience,” said senior manager Eva Riccius. “We appreciate our Pulling Together volunteers who help restore the Garry oak ecosystems in our parks. This project is a result of collaboration and dedicated work by the community.”

Activities will include a demonstration of how to plant, mulch and cage a tree as well as serving cake and coffee to participants.

The remaining trees will be planted at a future date in Falaise, Layritz, Camrose, Braefoot, Glanford, Konukson and Cedar Hill parks. Garry oak trees were chosen as they are a native species with both a natural and cultural significance. These trees and their habitat have been the focus of restoration efforts by staff and volunteer groups alike.

Garry oak meadows play an important role in supporting a variety native plant and animal species. They were once fairly common on southeastern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Fraser Valley. In British Columbia today, Garry oak meadows occupy only about three per cent of their former area, having been replaced by development and agriculture.

Garry oaks are significant in Indigenous culture and more recently the distinctive Garry oak leaf was included in the District of Saanich’s coat-of-arms.

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