The voice of the gardening expert from the Kelowna radio show can now be heard on Vancouver Island

Don Burnett, right, and his co-host Ken Salvail, pose for a photo. After nearly 40 years of providing gardening advice to Kelowna radio listeners, Don Burnett’s Garden Show is expanding to Victoria starting Saturday, October 30, 2021.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Don Burnett


After nearly 40 years of providing gardening advice to Kelowna radio listeners, Don Burnett’s Garden Show extends to Victoria starting Saturday.

This is something Burnett never claimed. It was the Victoria station manager who approached him with the idea, just as it wasn’t his idea to start an on-air garden show in the first place. But he is very excited to take on a new challenge.

“I’m not going to change gears too much, except that we’re dealing with two different climates,” he told iINFOnews.ca. “It’s a good solid 7 (climatic zone) and we’re kind of 5-6. We have alkaline soils and they have acidic soils, so there are some differences. Let’s face it, right now they’re still plagued with annuals and everything. We’re going to have frost this weekend and all of our annuals are going to be down. ”

There are plants that grow on the island that don’t grow in the Okanagan, but the basics are the same, he said.

READ MORE: How to Protect the Okanagan’s Precious Water Supply When Planting Your Garden

The AM1150 Garden Show takes place on Saturday mornings and will now also air on CFAX in Victoria. Both are owned by Bell Media.

Brunette was recruited by CKOV radio in 1983 when a new program director decided to host a garden show. He had seen Burnett Landscaping trucks driving around town, called Burnett and the rest is a story that has involved various radio stations and antenna partners since then.

Burnett hired Ken Salvail in the mid-1980s to work in his gardening business, and in 2003 invited Salvail to appear on the show, which he never left.

“Ken is an important part of the show,” said Burnett. “He’s as strong as me right now, even though I started the show.”

Salvail brought with him the learning from the book which complements Burnett’s hands-on learning.

Burnett has heard about the offer to air the show in Victoria this summer. It took a few months to sort out the technical issues, such as setting up a toll-free phone line for Victoria callers and synchronizing commercials and TV news during the two-hour broadcasts.

READ MORE: Bedbugs are in abundance in the Okanagan this fall

Gardening basics aren’t a problem for Burnett, but he will do some research.

“People say, how do you know all this? ” he said. “I mean, there might be 150 questions that are asked over the years and you can answer them in a different way to make it sound a little better. We have fun on the show but we do more than just gardening, we do a lot of history stuff. And now I’m going to do the same for Victoria listeners. I’m really going to study the historical side of Victoria.

While he’s worried that everything will be fine, he’s not nervous, noting that there are plenty of Kelownas living in Victoria.

“It’s probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” Burnett said. “I don’t even think it’s like talking to a bunch of people. I’m just answering gardening questions. It’s pretty caller-driven in a lot of ways. When someone calls and asks questions of a garden, I have always been able to answer them. If I can’t, I tell them I’ll check it out. Today, with the Internet, if I have a problem, I can look it up while I’m on the air.

Burnett eventually closed his nursery and “went with” Bylands Garden Center, which he retired from in 2006. He still has a consulting business called The Garden Expert. And he has his family garden to focus more attention on than he could in the past.

“I’m fascinated by the diversity of plants,” Burnett said when asked what he loves most about gardening. “I love the diversity of the plant world. The plant kingdom has so many facets, from cacti and succulents to ferns and lichens and orchids and woody ornamentals. You are never close to learning even a fraction of the plants that exist.

He spoke of visiting the Glasgow Botanic Gardens in Scotland in 2016 and being blown away after learning that the 30-acre garden contains only 2.5% of the world’s genera. (Genera is the plural of the genus. Biology Online says there were approximately 510,000 genera in 2016. Species with similar characteristics constitute a genus).

This means that there are a lot of new things to be learned in the world of gardening and that Burnett and Salvail aren’t the only ones teaching.

READ MORE: Kamloops, Okanagan gardeners offer early season advice

“I think the show is just talking over the back fence to another gardener,” Burnett said. “So we talk to a group of gardeners and exchange information. Many people call with advice, ideas, and home remedies. We learn a lot on the radio.


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