Gardeners are preparing for the second spring during COVID-19. Business is already picking up at some Greater Victoria nurseries, including Elk Lake Garden Centre. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Gardeners are preparing for the second spring during COVID-19. Business is already picking up at some Greater Victoria nurseries, including Elk Lake Garden Centre. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Vancouver Island garden centres preparing for busy season

Businesses stocking up after last year’s COVID-19 pandemic gardening explosion

Nurseries and garden centres across Vancouver Island are gearing up for a busy spring season.

Just 20 minutes after opening last Friday morning, Elk Lake Garden Centre in Saanich had several cars pulling up to the lot. It’s still early in the season but with COVID-19 protocols still in place, owner John Derrick wouldn’t be surprised if the nursery is soon as busy as it was last spring, when some customers waited up to an hour and a half just to get inside.

“Since last year, everybody’s staying home so everybody’s working in the garden,” he said. “So yes, all the garden centres are busy.”

After the pandemic started, British Columbia – along with several other provinces – designated garden centres as an essential service. But that designation came with restrictions such as capacity limits, which see line-ups form faster than in pre-pandemic years.

READ ALSO: Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

“From mid-April to mid-June, we expect anywhere from 550 to 750 customers a day, that’s just our standard,” Derrick said. “What we can process is about 350 to 400 (people). So that should tell you that the line-ups are going to be pretty big.”

Down the road at Wildwood Garden Centre, sales are also picking up. The nursery and outdoor living centre is selling huge numbers of fruit trees, bulbs and seeds of all kinds.

Owner Gord Nickel said this March has already been busier than last. But April of last year – a few weeks after the pandemic was declared – was when sales really went crazy.

“We are a little bit busier this year than last time,” Nickel said. “It will be interesting to see where the season takes us.”

Nickel said the store is preparing for the number of anticipated sales this spring. The nursery’s online store remains popular.

“Last year we weren’t prepared for the increase in demand,” he said. “We’ve certainly ordered way more than we did last year.”

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READ ALSO: ‘I just want to survive:’ Greenhouses struggling with economic reality of COVID-19


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
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