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 or call 250-228-0564.

Just Posted

VIU researches importance of French Creek Estuary area

Estuary not currently included in any protected areas

RDN director seeks land-based disposal option for Area H project

McLean believes there is techonology district has not fully explored

Tanner Allan earns Lukas Whibley Memorial Award

Lacrosse player honoured for integrity, leadership and sportsmanship

Tax hike? Proposed RDN budget to impact District 69 areas

Residents encouraged to share thoughts on proposal

RDN teams up with VIU to deal with French Creek stench

Partnership aims to implement a state of the art odour monitoring program

VIDEO: Milner Gardens Christmas Magic 2018

Lights, Santa and more in Qualicum Beach’s Milner Gardens and Woodlands

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Most Read