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'What can I plant that won't die?': B.C. gardeners adjusting to climate change

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It's the time of year when many turn their attention to their yards and other green spaces, but unpredictable winters and dry summers have local gardeners scrambling.

One Lower Mainland garden store manager says those cultivating their yard have to deal with multiple impacts, such as drought damage in the summer and cold damage in the winter.

"We're getting hotter summers, wetter springs and suddenly the tap gets turned off and there's no water whatsoever," Mike Lascelle, with Amsterdam Garden Centre in Pitt Meadows, told CTV News Vancouver. "We're also getting record-breaking cold for short spells in winter."

The garden centre has boosted its stock of drought-tolerant plants, with customers opting more for low-maintenance varieties. But even after choosing a hardier plant, timing is key.

"A lot of people are either getting them out too early because our springs have stayed cool for long periods of time, but then all of a sudden it's just blistering heat in June," Lascelle said. "So we're fighting both things – things rotting off in the rain, and things drying up or getting scorched in the heat."

With B.C.'s snowpack at the lowest it's been in more than 50 years, local gardeners are already planning which crops and flowers can make it through escalating water restrictions. Perennials may also need to survive devastating cold snaps, like the ones that devastated fruit crops in the Okanagan over the last two winters. 

But navigating that balance is a challenge, Lascelle said, and has frustrated gardeners coming into their store to ask, "What can I plant that won't die?" 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Penny Daflos

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