Bill and Karen Millward stand with one of their three beehives in their sub-urban backyard in Parksville. Their garden is one of 12 participating in the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society’s Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Tour on May 12 and 13. — Adam Kveton Photo

Gardeners a-buzz for MARS tour in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Couple to discuss bee benefits at garden tour May 12-13

You wouldn’t bee-lieve the yield this pair of gardeners gets from their small, suburban yard.

For this year’s Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Tour, put on by the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society (MARS), 12 gardens in both Qualicum Beach and Parksville will be open to visitors, including the Parksville garden of Karen and Bill Millward.

In their small, suburban yard, the retired pair manage to grow an impressive amount of fruits and vegetables, not to mention some flowers including roses and rhododendrons, with the help of their three bee hives.

“We don’t buy any fruit at all, other than citrus fruit,” said Karen while showing The NEWS around their garden. Even then, they’ve got enough to give jam and honey away to friends, family and neighbours.

In fact, that’s an integral part of introducing their bees to the neighbourhood, said Karen.

“You have to be an educator and an ambassador for them (the bees),” she said. “The easiest way is to hand out honey,” she added with a laugh.

Doing a bit of educating is part of the couple’s plan for participating in MARS’ garden tour, taking place in Parksville and Qualicum Beach May 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This will be the first time they’re participating. The Millward’s feel they can offer examples of how to make good use of a relatively small space for growing your own food, and introduce sub-urban beekeeping to more people.

The pair moved to Parksville from Ontario four years ago, and had thought about keeping bees occasionally, but decided to take on the challenge upon seeing a swarm of bees collecting on a post in the backyard of the Parksville home they wanted to buy.

Turned out their future neighbour was a beekeeper, and this swarm had broken off from one of their hives.

The Millward’s decided to take it on, and their garden (and many others in the neighbourhood) have been the better for it, they said.

“Everything gets fertilized when you have bees in the yard,” said Karen.

The Millwards report getting gallons of currants, in addition to significant numbers of fruit and vegetables, including cherries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, asparagus, pears, figs, onions, tomatoes and more.

The Millwards have also worked hard to grow such a variety of things in their yard, with Bill in particular feeling that, if people have land, it should be producing something.

Growing your own food in your own space (whatever size) is a growing trend, and one that the Millwards hope to shed some light on during the tour, as well as the benefits of sub-urban beekeeping.

The garden tour has a variety of different kinds of gardens to see — some with local artists who will be painting at different times in the gardens.

Tickets for the self-guided tour are $15 for a tour map. Attendants at each garden stamp tickets and direct participants.

Tickets/maps are available at Mulberry Bush book stores in Qualicum Beach and Parksville, Arrowsmith Greenhouses, Milner Gardens and Woodland, Ken-Dor Garden Centre, Buckerfield’s, Cultivate Garden and Gift, and Colyn’s Nursery and Garden Centre in Port Alberni.

For more info, go to marsrhodos.ca or call 250-228-0564.

Just Posted

Parksville-area graffiti tagger arrested by RCMP

Existing court conditions required that suspect not be in possession of graffiti-making material

Winner crowned at Qualicum Bay Art Battle

Island painters compete in 20-minute art challenge

Seeing double, the trials and tribulations of twins

BIG READ: Three Vancouver Island mothers share their experiences with multiple births

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Parksville man arrested in relation to Mercedes, motorcycle fight

RCMP recommend assault charge for man driving Mercedes

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Most Read