News

Tuesday
May242016

Upcoming Events!

Spring Is In the Air - May 28, 2016

Green Thumbs, an organization whose mission it is to empower urban children, youth and their families to learn about, grow and prepare fresh foods, cultivated in an environmentally sustainable manner, in hands-on programs, is holding an very intersting event that members from our Education and Outreach commitee will be at. Check out their Facebook Event Page for this. 

Hort Merry May Meeting - May 30, 2016

The perfect end to a Horticultural Society year. Enjoy the courtyard garden, enter the flower show, participate in the trivia quiz and share the beauty of your own or a visited garden with digital images in our members’ slideshow. The meeting is held at St George the Martyr Church, 197 John Street. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the speaker begins the presentation at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you chat, and ask questions! 

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden - Grand Opening June 11, 2016

Saturday June 11, at 11am is the Grand Opening of the DRPG. They are raising funds to have special day, with historical significance. Please check out their website and fundraiser (with perks for donations!)

Healing Gardens Coach Tour - June 19

Sunday June 19, 8:30AM - 6PM (Approximately) The focus of our bus trip this year is to visit five gardens that have been created to serve special groups in the community.  Each garden is designed to offer programs for a different population: abused youth, mentally and physically challenged people, the elderly and high risk youth. To find out more and book your spot click here.

April Meeting Speaker Plant List & Notes

Our April 25 meeting had speaker Janet Davis, and the subject was Beautiful Marriages - Matchmaking in the Garden. Janet has sent us her extensive notes from the evening. Click here to down load them. 

Tuesday
Apr262016

Merry May Meeting - May 30, 2016

The May meeting is held at St. George the Martyr Church, 197 John Street. (Just North of Queen, West of Beverley) Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you chat, and ask questions!

Please note that the meeting will be in the Fellowship Room rather than the Sanctuary. Enter by the French doors via the garden, or enter from the main doors and turn left down the hall. 

  • Enjoy a stroll in St. George’s garden.
  • Refreshments, will be available in the kitchen.
  • Raffle items include a print titled ‘Yellow Pear’; a book, Rosemary Verey’s ‘Making of a Garden’; a punch bowl and cups; and two $30 gift certificates donated by Fiesta gardens.
  • Enter your design in the Spring Flower Show titled ‘Purple Prose Styles’, in honour of the genius of Prince.
  • Clement Kent, Maria Nunes and Judy Whalen will present their photos for your enjoyment.
  • Enjoy our annual horticultural Trivia Quiz with prizes for everyone.
  • Purchase, and have it autographed, Lauretta Santarossa’s delightful new book, ‘Bring Flowers of the Fairest’.
  • There will be plants and garden gloves for sale.
  • Bring a few plant divisions that didn’t make it to the Plant fair.
  • Congratulate fellow Hort members as Awards are announced and presented.

 See you there!

Monday
Apr182016

Janet Davis - Beautiful Marriages : Matchmaking in the Garden

APRIL 25, 2016 MEETING

Janet sent us her notes and plant list from the evening. Click here to down load them.

Just in time to head to the nursery, Janet Davis will show you a selection of beautiful perennial couples, and the odd ménage a trois to keep things spicy.

WHAT A COLOURFUL LIFE!

Looking at Janet Davis’ current photo by-line, it’s not hard to imagine that she lives a ‘colourful’ life, what with her fiery orange hat. One need only read a bit of her blog to learn that it is indeed colourful—in more than the obvious way.

The headline graphic at the top of her blog, The Paintbox Garden, is like a swatch of flower photo quilt squares—from white to yellow, orange, red, purple, and blue—all sitting on a background of my favourite flavour of green. And if you go to the Colour Menu page, you’ll be delighted with more flower-photo quilts, from the multi-hued to the monochromatic. It is a dazzling testament to her thirty odd years of photographing plants, especially flowers.

Janet’s life is colourful in other ways, however, as the writing on her website will attest. Since her last presentation to our Hort, Janet has done quite a lot of travelling. That’s not unusual in and of itself, but the two trips she shares with her readers reveal a penchant and curiosity for adventure and knowledge that can only be attained through sometimes arduous and exhausting, not always comfortable, but truly rewarding discoveries.

From visiting South Africa’s well manicured gardens of the rich and famous in Johannesburg’s Gauteng province to rumbling through the countryside of Mpumalanga province, from highveld to lowveld, Janet set her lens upon the first protea she’d ever seen growing in the wild to monumental “slag heaps of open-pit mines”. She set eyes on everything from agricultural land to deeply water-cut sandstone canyons at the juncture of the Treur and Blyde rivers. All the while, feeling like she was exhausting her guide with her questions (he assured her she wasn’t).

That was in November 2014, shortly after her last talk. One year later, with a group of friends, Janet made another trip a little closer to home, but rather more exotic than the weekend of hiking in a “wild place in nature” that they would usually choose. They set off for an eco-tour in the Osa Peninsula, in Costa Rica’s southwest Pacific coast, staying at the El Remanso Lodge. From the luxuriant, environmentally friendly comfort of this home base, Janet and her friends discovered everything from the homeland of the common houseplant, the flame violet, to the strength of leafcutter ants. Her beautiful photographs and short videos document the lushness and vibrancy of the rainforest’s flowers, insects, birds, and monkeys, as well as the less showy reptiles that inhabit this humid forest.

There’s only one small hitch to her continued focus on the natural world, the competition derived from her two grandchildren. For now, however, Janet will ply us with suggestions for combining colours in our gardens based, no doubt, on all the wonders she has seen in these last two years.

Maria Nunes

Monday
Mar212016

Sue Arndt - Not Far From The Tree

MARCH 28, 2016 MEETING

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Do you have peaches, pears or plums falling from your trees? Who you gonna call? Sue Arndt will explain how Not Far From the Tree harvests for you and everyone benefits—you, the workers and local food banks! Sue will fill in the details regarding this welcome addition to the sharing economy.

APPLES, PEACHES, PEARS AND PLUMS            

After hearing about Not Far From the Tree, a not for profit organization, I couldn’t stop smiling because of its simple yet charming premise of harvesting and sharing local fruit.
Laura Reinsborough had the idea of raising awareness about the rich bounty from fruit bearing trees and vines that goes unharvested in Toronto’s urban gardens, all in the spirit of sharing and giving back to the community. So, in 2008 she started a registry of homeowners who had fruit trees with fruit to spare, and organized volunteer pickers who were willing to harvest the fruits when ripe. A third of the harvest is offered back to the homeowner while the rest is divided among the pickers themselves, and shelters, food banks and community kitchens.

Now an established and well-run operation, they celebrate the generosity of Torontonians, having picked and shared nearly 128,000 lbs. of fruit since 2008.

This is a great idea that became a great reality.
Mari Lise Stonehouse 

Friday
Feb192016

Darren Heimbecker - Whistling Gardens Revisited

FEBRUARY 29, 2016 MEETING

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

WHISTLING GARDENS REVISTED

Four years ago Darren dazzled us with his plans. They’re now a thriving reality, making the gardens a knockout destination for viewing rare evergreens and unusual plants.

Courtesy of the Whistling Gardens Facebook Page

UNIQUELY SUPERLATIVE

How many of us can truly say we’ve achieved a life-long dream? Not the majority, I’ll wager, at least not if it is the behemoth vision Darren Heimbecker shared with us four years ago. Twenty-five years in the making, it took a lot of dreaming, planning, money, and most of all, hard work and sheer determination, to create Canada’s newest privately owned botanical garden. It proudly holds the designation of “Norfolk County’s Premiere Botanical Gardens”.

Today, Whistling Gardens is a reality that is breathtakingly unique in its mission, vision, and operation; that is garnering awards and accolades as a destination botanical garden from the Canadian and International Garden Tourism Awards, the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, Norfolk County’s Amazing Places program, celebrity horticulturists, and even wedding planners. Yes! It was featured on W Network’s Say Yes to the Dress as a “perfect garden wedding” location.

As a tourist attraction, the gardens provide much more than beautiful garden beds. Besides the various themed gardens laid out across the sprawling 20 landscaped acres, there is also an aviary. It is home to the most exotic collection of fowl from dazzlingly coloured Golden and Reeves pheasants from China to Royal Mute swans. And though they are not known for their birdsong, the gardens are nonetheless serenaded by an increasing number of native birds which the garden habitat attracts. The presence of the birds has generated a partnership with a local birding photographer who helps to document them.

But birdsong is only one of the sources of aural stimulation at Whistling Gardens. “Inspired by Andre Le Notre’s 1634 design at the Palace of Versailles”, the Fountain Amphitheatre is Canada’s largest. Yet you won’t find opera singers pacing the stage or the three 80 ft. stone staircases that Darren built himself. The mammoth stone masterpiece is the stage for water fountain spectacles choreographed to Darren’s own original compositions which play twice daily.

The word “unique” is most fitting for Whistling Gardens, including, of course, its plant collection. Darren, with his particular penchant for conifers, has amassed the world’s largest public display, surpassing 2500 species, cultivars, and hybrids. For the purists among us there are over 450 rare or native Carolinian trees on the site and a woodland walk takes you through 165 Dawn redwoods. And the gardens have received a peony collection of over 900 varieties. Who knew there were so many?  Lots of folks, because the spring show is apparently drawing a lot of interest.

Nothing that is part of Darren Heimbecker’s dream garden adventure is short of grand! Indeed, there is little about Whistling Gardens that can’t be described with superlatives. But a picture is worth 1,000 adjectives, and Darren’s presentation this month on the dream that became Whistling Gardens must be seen to be believed. Don’t miss the show!

Maria Nunes

Monday
Feb152016

Parkdale Seedy Saturday - March 5, 2016, 11AM - 3PM

Thursday
Jan212016

Invitation to the January meeting

Hi. I’m Clement Kent and I’ll be talking at our January meeting about Caring for Our Planet, not just as gardeners and horticulturalists but also as ordinary people of any sort. I’ve been thinking and researching this for six months now, and some of the most interesting insights I’ve gained have come from asking people what the topic means to them. I’ve talked with gardeners and geeks and geographers, economists and ecologists and environmentalists, farmers, family and friends, landscapers and law students. I’ll present some of their answers but I also want to spend time discussing this with you. If you have friends who are engaged in caring activities, bring them along even if they’re not gardeners. I’ll be using feedback I get from you a few days later when I give the talk again to environmental studies students at York University. Although I’ll touch on ethics, spirituality, and philosophy, I’ll also describe very specific small acts you can do every day in your garden or in your life which help. Please bring your questions and friends! Come and help educate me on this fascinating subject!

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Tuesday
Jan192016

Clement Kent - Caring For Our Planet

JANUARY 25, 2016 MEETING

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

After 20 years, Clement will revisit ecological gardening from a spiritual and ethical perspective. He’ll ask how gardeners and horticultural societies can contribute to the development of what Aldo Leopold called The Land Ethic (1949), what Arne Naess called Deep Ecology (1973), and what Pope Francis calls Integral Ecology. These thinkers emphasize the need to expand our ethics and spiritual beliefs to include a deep concern for the state of the whole natural world. Clement will address gardening for the human spirit, for nature, and how we can spread integral ecology through our own gardens and through our society’s projects.

WHAT’S IN A BIO?

One of the interesting things about this job of bio writer is that, when we have repeat speakers, I already have a lot of material to work from. As some of you may guess, all of our speakers have bios on their web pages or have canned bios they provide to organizations they’re going to speak at, etc. So why do I put Barbara Japp through the ringer every month with my usually late submissions of bios that I insist on writing after doing a phone interview, instead of just cobbling together various bits from my archives and from the internet? Well, the response I’ve received from many of you over the years seems to indicate that whatever the reason, it results in something you enjoy reading.

So, back to the return speakers—the first thing I do is re-read what I’ve written in past years (I’m a digital as well as a physical pack-rat). I wouldn’t want to ask the same questions or repeat the same details; in fact, it challenges me to build on previous bios. In the case of Clement Kent, well, the fact that he’s ‘one of our own’ as well as one of our founding fathers, a past President a few times over, and that many of you might know even more about him than I could ever get into 300 words, means that I have to reach far and deep into the question of who Clement Kent really is. So this month, given he’s written a very nice description of his presentation himself, I’ll make this slightly different.

Clement and I met some thirty years ago when we both worked for a leading edge software company, I.P. Sharp Associates. We crossed paths again here at the Hort when I joined around 1996. I was surprised, though later I realized I shouldn’t have been, that a computer nerd also liked gardening. Now that I’ve been studying at York University, that makes three different points of intersection in our lives and, if he wasn’t married to the lovely Lena, I’d probably be checking with a psychic reader to find out if we weren’t meant to be together or some such! I should be so lucky!

Yet, the various intersections of our lives still leave much ground to be covered (in mulch, of course), many species to be discovered, catalogued, cultivated, perhaps, or at least, observed and experimented with. Such, in a way, is Clement’s trajectory through computing, horticulture, and genetics and entomology. Wherever he turns his attention, Clement starts digging about, gathering experience and knowledge, and finally, trying to make some sense of how to turn those into something useful, beautiful, and good for us and the planet. Computing? Well, of course, it’s all about the elegance of efficiency in patterns and numbers for solving problems. Gardening? It’s all about observation and experimenting and we know from past years’ presentations that Clement is brilliant at discovering new plants, finding out new things about old favourites, and has a wealth of knowledge where gardening is concerned—both in the ‘how to’ and in the ‘why’ of all things plant-related.

His most recent venture, in academia, beginning with his doctoral research on fruit flies and now, his attention to honey bees is yet one more area where he has, in the most holistic way, applied his work and interests in an effort to improve our world. As he wrote to me, it is a “four year project to give beekeepers tools to breed honeybees that resist disease and adverse weather better, and that produce more honey”. A sweet, well-rounded goal that impacts human survival through our relationship with the natural world and a most noble goal that any of us gardeners would be proud to be part of, I’m sure.

One of my anthropology profs once answered my question about specializing versus dealing with the big picture (I was in first year and very prematurely grappling with this conundrum!), he told me you start with the particular all the way through graduate degrees, and that somehow you come back to the big picture. Clement has most certainly dealt with the particular, and not in just one discipline; but he seems now, more than anything, to be focused on the big picture.

That doesn’t mean the fine details are no longer important. He wrote the words above to me from Nice where he is at the moment “doing research on an interesting Italian aceto di miele (honey vinegar) and (bien sur!) French wines”. But he’ll be back in time to share photos of this trip most assuredly, as he engages us in his work—a decidedly big-picture, participatory venture. What follows is his own invitation to his upcoming talk.

Maria Nunes

Friday
Dec042015

Organic Master Gardening Course - Winter 2016

Sunday
Nov082015

AGM and speaker Jode Roberts - Homegrown National Park Project

NOVEMBER 30, 2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING WITH SPEAKER TO FOLLOW

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. 

AGM STARTS AT 7PM! 

We’ll make it short and sweet, but come and see our Board voted in, hear some brief reports and enjoy some special treats on us.

Our Speaker Jode Roberts - Homegrown National Park Project

Planting canoes along the former route of Garrison Creek is just one way the David Suzuki Foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project playfully reimagines the City of Toronto as a National Park. Jode will share lessons learned from his work implementing these fun interventions.  

By Jode! Let’s Paint the Town Green!

Painting the town can be a little unholy, but painting it green with the David Suzuki Foundation’s (DSF) Jode Roberts is next to godliness for those of us who love nature. Among the environmental organization’s many initiatives is a project called The Homegrown National Park System and Roberts is going to be talking to us about this and other initiatives that promote a continuous “green corridor” through the country.

You might call it painting the town green, but that art is itself one of the outlets for Roberts’ many creative talents. His website http://joderoberts.com is home to an extensive gallery of his colourful, abstract meditations (my term), as well as copious expertly executed photographs of everything from a scenic mountainside where a cow sporting it’s very lovely round brass bell is perfectly posed, to an evocative shot of bees buzzing around a hive, to his darling son taking glorious childhood flight from a patio chair. And of course, there is a photo of some of Toronto’s Park Rangers seated in a blue canoe before filling it with soil and planting native pollinators.

Yes, in all National Parks there have to be Rangers! And Toronto’s are mentoring the Homegrown Park System. It aims to connect existing green spaces, both public and private, in the most imaginative places, as well as creating new and inventive ones in a bid to expand consciousness about the earth’s living systems of which we are a part. And that’s where the canoe comes in.

But that’s what you’ll have to come to our next Hort meeting to find out about. As an artist, long time writer, communications strategist, and musical bike parade leader, among many other interesting projects, Roberts is sure to make a fun and compelling presentation that will have us all looking upon our own gardens as they slowly go to sleep and begin to dream up ways to join the Park System.

—Maria Nunes