VIU Poinsettias Brighten Holiday Season in Nanaimo

November 27, 2013 - 7:15am

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Vancouver Island University’s G.R. Paine Horticultural Training Centre on East Wellington Road in Nanaimo.

That’s because students enrolled in VIU’s nine-month Horticultural Technician program have nurtured a colourful crop of more than 1,100 red and white poinsettias.

Most of the plants are destined for school Parent Advisory Councils throughout the District for school fundraisers, according to Horticultural program instructor Anne Kivari. Pre-orders were also accepted from VIU, staff, faculty, students and members of the public.

Students Alberto Chizzola and Elena Marcollo, both from Italy, have enjoyed helping care for the festive plants.

“Poinsettias are also a traditional Christmas plant in Italy,” says Chizzola, who is studying here as part of a student exchange between VIU and the University of Padua in northern Italy.

As the last of the poinsettias leave the greenhouse, Marcollo and Chizzola are preparing to return home to Italy. While happy to see their families again, they will miss the beauty of BC and new Canadian friends in the Horticultural program.

Both Chizzola and Marcollo are master’s students in an agricultural program back home. They’ll put the skills learned at the G.R. Paine Training Centre to good use. Marcollo’s family owns an apple orchard in Italy, while Chizzola’s family is part of a vineyard and winery co-op.

VIU's nine-month Horticultural Technician Foundation Program provides students from around the world with a broad range of horticulture experiences including plant identification and propagation, greenhouse and nursery crop production, pest management, landscape design, construction and maintenance.

Situated at the 32-acre G.R. Paine Horticultural Training Centre, students benefit from a modern and self-contained teaching environment minutes from the main VIU campus. Occupying about five acres of this rural site, the Centre is comprised of classrooms, lab and work areas, modern production greenhouses, and an ornamental nursery. Besides poinsettias, students produce bedding plants, Easter lilies, ornamental landscaping materials, native plants and forest seedlings.

Anyone who would like to purchase a VIU-grown poinsettia has one more chance. Limited quantities will be available at the Nanaimo campus Dec. 2 from noon to 1:30 pm in the upper cafeteria. Plants are $8 each with all proceeds going to offset costs to run the Horticultural program. For information, email



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288

E: Twitter: @VIUNews

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