Allan Gardens, Toronto

News

Sunday
Dec032017

Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show

Friday
Dec012017

Pop-Up Sale! Garden structures, Textiles and Jewellry

Sunday
Nov192017

November 27, 2017 AGM and Meeting at 7PM

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Our brief AGM will start off the meeting, followed by cupcakes to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the PARKDALE Horticultural Society. The speaker will follow refreshments.

HELEN BATTERSBY : THE GARDEN OF REGRETS

Meet the plants you’ll wish you’d never planted—and learn how to avoid them (before you do) or live with them (if, sadly, you have). Helen is one of the Battersby sisters behind the delightful award winning blog Torontogardens.com and will share her humour and insight on our Toronto gardens. 

GARDENING FIXATION

Helen Battersby is one half of the gardening duo behind the enterprise called Gardenfix and the Toronto blog, Toronto Gardens. The other half is her little sister Sarah (with whom she won two Silver Medals in 2017 from the GWA). So why one and not the other or why not both….? “I usually do the talking”, says Helen, quite plainly. A hint about how that came to be might be found in the caption on their blog photo which reads, “Toronto Gardens gals Sarah (left) & Helen (always right) Battersby.” Although, that could be a reference to how they pose for photos…

But the truth is, this dynamic duo complements each other in their joint gardening ventures; the maturing of a lifelong love and participation in gardening is rooted in family tradition, nurtured early during their time in Wales, living with their grandparents who kept extensive gardens. It was after many years, moving around the country in their youth, that both settled in Toronto, two doors away from each other, in what Helen refers to as the upper, upper, upper Beaches.

At Gardenfix, the sisters provide garden consulting, coaching, and workshops. On their blog, they share their advice on all manner of garden-related topics, accompanied by the most informative and beautifully (and helpfully) illustrated images and photos, alongside discussions rooted in their own. Blogs are categorized in Gardens + Design, Plants + Care, How to + Reviews, Critters + Bugs, Events + Tours, and rounded out with Stuff + Nonsense. In posts in the last category (the one that immediately drew my curiosity) Helen admits to a lifetime of “killing house plants” and suggests 5 minutes can be deducted from her 15 minutes of fame for appearing on Metro Morning recently to talk about one of her “favourite (spring bulbs) and non-favourite (squirrels who eat them) topics.

This writer thinks between Sarah and Helen there are multiple 15 minutes of fame to be had. Among them, speaking to our Hort about how to deal with plants that raise “problems” in our gardens, from being the wrong plant in the wrong place to being too much plant or otherwise. One half of this seeming “Sisterhood of All Things Plant”, Helen, will nonetheless knock down a few more minutes from their time in the limelight.

Maria Nunes
Saturday
Nov042017

Kathy Andrachuk - Hort stalwart and dear friend

Many of you now know that our long time hort member Kathy Andrachuk passed away suddenly on Saturday October 28th, 2017. To read Kathy’s official obituary please click here.

We will miss her greatly.

At the Celebration of Life for Kathy Andrachuk there were may moving and heartwarning moments and sharing of treasured memories. Clement Kent spoke, his speech is reproduced here: 

A few words about Kathy Andrachuk

I first met Kathy about 29 years ago. I ran into Cam Stewart, a district director with the Ontario Horticultural Association or OHA, at the CNE.  The OHA had become involved with the CNE in 1981, and Cam directed the first OHA flower show there. Our new and vigorous Parkdale Horticultural Society was taking off, and Cam suggested we meet with some of the members of the Toronto Horticultural Society, which was experiencing some membership difficulties. So, a little while later I met Kathy – I forget now whether she was president or vice president of the Toronto Society that year.

I found Kathy to be pleasant and agreeable, and with not much ado we negotiated the merger of the two societies. It was then my pleasure to work with her on the board of the new Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto, or the Hort for short, for almost 3 decades.

At first, my impressions of Kathy were mostly due to her never-ending energy in organizing, arranging, making things happen, and never with any complaints or negativity.  Any of you who have worked in a volunteer organization knows how infinitely precious these traits are, and how rare! But gradually, as I got to know Kathy and Bill, I encountered other aspects of their lives together – the ballroom dancing particularly impressed me, since I’m such a clumsy dancer myself.

Being an Ontario Horticultural Society, we had meetings to attend with the OHA. But I had a busy work career, and soon a young family to take care of, so I was very pleased that Kathy was able to attend so many OHA meetings as the Hort’s delegate. I began to realize that Kathy had certainly met people in most of the garden clubs around Ontario, connections we often benefitted from.Kathy at the 2009 Plant Fair (Photo thanks to Luba Ferris.)

Another skill of Kathy’s was persuasion. Somehow, I don’t know how, she always had donations from merchants to use as raffle prizes or to give away at meetings. I wish I’d had the chance to observe her in action as she charmed these gifts from busy businesspeople, but instead I always saw the results: overflowing baskets full of treats at our plant fairs and meetings.

Kathy also had flair for promotion. How many of you remember her, with her antennae strapped on her head, promoting the sale of praying mantis egg clusters or of ladybird beetles at the Hort plant fairs?

Kathy gave a lot as a volunteer, but she also understood that one must give back to volunteers. I wonder how many of us here today received Ontario Volunteer Service Awards – the trillium pin – because of Kathy? I don’t know how many awards Kathy herself got, but I suspect the right answer is “many”.Kathy with the OHA District 15 trophy awarded to The Garden Party for youth involvement. Kathy wrote up the grant application.

When I first met Kathy, I didn’t know about her other volunteer involvements. I’m sure there are still some I don’t know about, but as the years went by the Hort became more and more involved with two of Kathy’s causes: St. Christopher House and St. George the Martyr church. We had many pleasant barbecue socials in the courtyard of St. Christopher House – with Bill as chief barbecue chef and Kathy keeping everything going. And of course our society then got involved in building and planting several gardens as St. Chris.

One of the most “giving” things Kathy did was organizing our involvement in the rejuvenation and ongoing maintenance of the enclosed garden of St. George the Martyr Church, next to Grange Park. This historic Toronto church has a walled enclosure, with garden beds we gradually transformed. There are memorial plaques on the inside of those walls, and I feel sure we will help install one for Kathy there too. I personally was involved in a remembrance activity there. The father of one of the school friends of my daughter had suddenly died, and the family was grief-stricken, as we are today. The Hort selected a remembrance rose, and planted it in the St. George garden bed with the family. It is still blooming there today. I hope some of you will think of what kind of plant we could put in the St. George beds in remembrance of Kathy.

But that wasn’t enough volunteer work for Kathy – she then organized a spring hanging basket planting project at St. George. Every summer since beautiful flowering baskets have hung in the colonnaded ambulatory that makes the yard feel like a cloister. And almost every May since (until the church’s temporary closure this year due to construction) we had our very pleasant May meeting in the church itself – all these things we owe to Kathy.Kathy with an Allan Garden Wreath she helped make. (Photo thanks to Hilde Ortmann)

The history of the Toronto Horticultural Society is intertwined with that of Allan Gardens, one of the showpieces of our Parks system, which the Toronto Hort first built on land deeded to it for that purpose by Mayor George Allan. The Parks department does lovely holiday season displays in the greenhouses at Allan gardens, and guess who was deeply involved in making and displaying floral wreaths there? Why Kathy, of course. When you add up all the pleasure those wreaths have given to thousands of Toronto children taken by their families to Allan gardens in December, we have a lot to remember Kathy for.

But, given how important Kathy has been in Beautifying Toronto, and given the love for her I feel within these walls, I don’t think a plaque on the wall and a rose bush is going to be enough. That’s why I’m very pleased to announce a special remembrance project we at the Hort have been organizing.

We have a fine precedent for this project. In 1978, the OHA established the Ontario Horticultural Association Oak Grove as part of the arboretum in Guelph. The First tree planted was a Scarlet Oak honouring Mabel Stewart. In 1981 two trees were planted to honour Harry Occomore and Ellen Bigelow. The Association acquired a plot of land to extend the existing area and oak trees were planted and benches dedicated to the memory of former presidents.

The price of land being what it is in downtown Toronto, I don’t think the Hort is going to acquire a plot through purchase. Instead, we are going to create the Kathy Andrachuk Memorial Grove and Pollinator Garden in a city park. We’ve capitalized on our excellent relations with the Parks department (relations that are great in part due to Kathy’s efforts) to locate a space downtown where we can do something ambitious and permanent.

I first thought of the St. George the Martyr grounds, but they are closed to outsiders for a time due to construction. Next, I asked Parks about the Grange Park, or perhaps Trinity Bellwoods Park because of its proximity to St. Christopher House. However, the very helpful Parks staffer said the design for the Grange was full, and Trinity Bellwoods nearly full; but were we interested in redesigning the northwest corner of Stanley Park?

Stanley Park is a neighborhood park just south of Trinity Bellwoods. If you drew a line some blocks to the west from Kathy and Bill’s place on Camden, you’d hit the northern end of Stanley Park. Even though King street is not far away, Stanley is a quiet neighborhood park.

But Stanley Park has a problem. At the northern end, a plantation of Austrian pine trees was made years ago. Unfortunately, all these trees are infected with an incurable fungus disease which is slowly killing them off. Across the street from the park, an avenue of ash trees was planted – and the emerald ash borer will get them sooner or later. Within a few years this pleasant space will go from green and leafy to bare.

Enter the Hort, accompanied by Parks and City Forestry. I’ve walked the space, taken pictures, and prepared a preliminary plan and budget. The city has given us an informal go-ahead, and the Hort Board has expressed agreement in principle and will vote on the proposal at their meeting on Monday. The Kathy Andrachuk Memorial Grove and Pollinator Garden will be made up of native trees, shrubs, and perennials which will provide shade, spring to fall flowers for pollinators, and brilliant fall leaf color. Parks will provide us with sturdy trees capable of surviving the rough-housing they can get in public spots, at a reasonable cost. Parks will also provide soil and planting assistance next April, when we plan to plant the garden and grove.

The budget proposal to the Hort Board is substantial but can only provide a few of the more costly larger, park-safe trees. We have enough space in the park to expand the planting, if we receive donations earmarked for the project. So, as we remember Kathy and all the wonderful times we had with her, I am calling you, her friends and partners in city beautification, to dig into your pockets, and to solicit donations from others of like mind, to expand the number and types of trees and flowering shrubs we can afford. If we are very successful at raising funds, we will add some hard infrastructure such as a bench, although this is quite dear.

I’m not just calling on you for your dollars. I have volunteered to chair a small committee which will make sure the project is a success. I’m asking for a few volunteers to join me on the committee. You’ll need to make a one-year commitment, for fund raising, planning and design this winter, planting and watering in spring, and organizing a commemorative summer meeting in the park of Kathy’s friends and others once the garden is established. I am especially interested in volunteers who either live or work near the park, because we want to do this in conjunction with the neighborhood, and volunteers with design skills interested in donating some time to produce the best possible plan.

In summary, on this Remembrance Day, I call on you to remember all the wonderful things that kind, cheerful, and giving Kathy Andrachuk gave us and the city of Toronto, and find in your hearts to give back for Kathy. 

--Clement Kent

If you wish to make a donation in Kathy’s name for the Kathy Andrachuk Memorial Grove please click here to go to our donation page and find out how to do it. Thank you for your kind support.

Monday
Oct162017

Sean James - Ornamental Ways to Handle Rainwater

October 30, 2017 Meeting

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

WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE…But Mostly Down the Drain. Hear ye, Hear ye….“Living near green spaces linked to longer lives, study finds: Being around vegetation decreased risk of mortality from common causes of death by 8-12%.”

That’s a headline on the day of this writing, and on that basis, this month’s speaker is slated to live a very long and healthy life. Sean James calls his first memory, from the age of 4, as being “horticultural”, so he’s been banking on a close relationship with green spaces for a very long time. And from the get-go, that relationship wasn’t just passive! At that tender age, he dragged his father out on his grandfather’s property in Coldwater, Ontario to ask him to help identify a plant! The subject, Indian pipe, Monotropa uniflora, was not just any plant either. This curious, white plant does not have chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize, so it survives as a parasite, part of the mycorrhizal networks that Clement Kent described in his talk on soil last month. It is fitting that the first plant that made an indelible imprint on Sean James’ consciousness is a plant that symbolizes the way his lifelong relationship with plants, both personal and professional, is coming full circle through his current focus on rainwater.

Plants can live without soil. Indian pipe can, arguably, live without sun, but there is no plant that can live without water in some form. It is often said that water is life, but modern life has made difficult, if not impossible, the natural flow of rainwater in the hydrological cycle—the water cycle we all learned about at some point in elementary school.

Sean has spent a lifetime gardening. A graduate of the prestigious Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, founded in 1996, and Principal until recently of Fern Ridge Landscaping and Eco-Consulting, a Master Gardener, and an educator through writing, public speaking and teaching, Sean has based his projects on eco-gardening techniques. He has further fine-tuned this focus on rain capture techniques, and how to make the best use of water in our gardens through plant choice.

This month, Sean James will help us try to reconnect the dots in the rain cycle where they’ve been disrupted, with advice based on his practical knowledge and know-how that has earned him the title of one of “20 Making a Difference” by Garden Making magazine. From a curious student to a wise teacher… the cycle is complete. Maria Nunes 

Tuesday
Sep192017

Clement Kent - The Life of the Soil 

September 26, 2017 Meeting

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

DR. KENT OFFERS GARDEN Rx

I had the pleasure of visiting this month’s speaker, our resident academic, Dr. Clement Kent, in the tranquility of his backyard garden. What better place to get up to speed on his current interests than where he puts them into practise?

In what is more accurately a small sliver of urban woodland than what one might think of as a backyard garden, Dr. Kent has stewarded an evolving palette of plants for a few dozen years. My last visit there was sometime in the ‘90s, on a crisp spring day when the pond was a central focus, wreathed in brilliant spring bulbs. Today, glimmers of the pond glisten through a halo of ferns, shrubs and woodland plants that have gradually encroached on its perimeter. The garden is shadier now under mature trees, and the understory plants have been adapted.

We sat for a spell on a bench in the quiet of the wood, observing the view to the house framed by all manner of flowers and shrubs, discussing the rings of sapsucker holes on the trunk of a tree, and his homemade raccoon deterrent. All the while, I was in awe of what Clement has, and continues to achieve, and what he will help us to understand this month: that gardening can be an act of survival on the planet we inhabit. It’s our choice. On September 25th, Dr. Kent will help us inform our choices.

Maria Nunes

Sunday
Sep102017

Perfect Partners

This was Kathy Andrachuk’s short story submitted to the July 2017 OHA Convention for the Creative Writing contest category entitled ‘Perfect Partners’. It won a 3rd Place ribbon and the Judge’s Choice rosette.

In 1973 I was living a bohemian existence in an old downtown factory-turned-loft. My garden was on the sunny roof over the back loading dock, which I transformed with seeds, soil and a motley assortment of containers, including old galvanized washtubs, pots, pans and air duct pipes purchased from the thrift store. Discarded steel drums gained new life as standing planters. The various containers, filled with blossoming plants, were grouped on top of recycled industrial wooden cable reels of different sizes and heights, creating a beautiful sight of undulating colour bordering my rooftop patio.

I grew potatoes by layering the eyes throughout a large plastic garbage can and was rewarded with a plentiful harvest. Morning glory vines, grown from seed, climbed up trellises against the brick wall, each morning producing a fresh sea of blue blossoms. While I made breakfast, my husband would count the exact number of blossoms, making a game out of having me guess what the count was. Gladiolus and acidanthera grew amongst petunias. Petunias were my specialty. For a one-time seed-packet purchase I was blessed with abundant blooms in a panorama of glorious pinks, purples and white in every container. I cut them continuously to ensure vigorous growth and flowers all season, discovering that they not only made lovely bouquets but also had a very pleasant perfume.

My husband encouraged me to attend a meeting of the Toronto Horticultural Society, which I looked forward to with great anticipation. My platform high-heeled shoes clacked on the worn wooden stairs as I descended to the basement of the old College Street Church. I stood quietly at the back of the room, scanning the silver-haired crowd for an empty seat when I felt a hand softly touch my right sleeve and found myself looking into the face of a tiny woman who enquired, “Are you sure you’re in the right place, dear?” “Yes”, I replied, “if this is the Toronto Horticultural Society meeting.” She paused, whispering again, explaining that the group was a lot older than I was and, for that reason, I might not want to stay. I assured her I did, and so it was that I found myself sitting next to her. She was Grace Libby, a fascinating and feisty retired secretary who I grew to love and whose passion for plants turned her entire apartment dining room into an impressive greenhouse jungle.

When the talk concluded, tea and sandwiches were served. In the genteel atmosphere of that crumbling church basement I was an honoured guest, with perfectly turned out, tiny elder folk (I was tall in my platform shoes) gathered around me—Clarence, Florence, Lloyd, Vera, Ruth, Marion, Ida…so many faces. How welcome I felt!

I was especially fond of Clarence and Florence Baker, who both became friends and mentors to me. One day, Clarence asked me about my garden and what my specialty was, so I invited them both up to my unconventional rooftop garden and proudly showed off my abundant display of petunias. Clarence quietly walked around the patio, looking intently at all the containers of flowers. Finally, he gave a slight nod of his head, smiled and made his pronouncement, “You certainly can grow petunias!”, and that was all. It was a very fine compliment, simply given, by someone I admired greatly.

Surrounded by my precious plants and two special people, it was a perfect moment in my garden that represented the start of a lifelong partnership with the Horticultural Society, gardening, and my connection to a wonderful group of eccentric, charming and delightful friends who have made my life so rich.

Kathy Andrachuk

Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto

2017

Friday
Sep012017

2017 - 2018 Programme

We have created our new 2017-18 Programme, listing meetings and events for the next year, Sept 2017 - June 2018.

Please click here to download the Programme.

Our September 25, 2017 meeting speaker will be Clement Kent, and the topic will be:

GOING UNDERGROUND—THE LIFE OF THE SOIL 

We know good soil helps the garden, but did you know good gardens help the soil? Clement will talk about the mysterious lives of roots and their helpers, and how what you plant can capture CO2 from the air and improve the earth. 

Wednesday
Aug302017

Our Award Winning Newsletter

Happy August everyone. We hope you had a great summer so far and are continuing to enjoy the rest of it. Here is something very special that we want to share with you.

On the weekend of July 21 to 23, the Ontario Horticultural Association held its yearly Convention, which is attended by members representing the 230 Horticultural Societies across Ontario. This time it was nearby, in Richmond Hill, so some of our members got to attend.

One of the features of this event is the Competition venue. It is held by the OHA to recognize the Hort Societies and their members in ways that pertain to their activities, such as Horticulture, Flower Arranging, Photography, Society Publications, Painting and Writing . We received two quite prestigious awards this year. One was in Creative Writing, in which Kathy Andrachuk entered a short composition entitled “Perfect Partners” (in the garden of course). She won a Third place ribbon plus the particular honour of the Judge’s Choice rosette. The second, Bless Us All, was First place ribbon for our Society Newsletter. We feel quite proud to say that these are significant awards as they have been won in a Province-wide competition against other Horticultural Societies and their individual members. In the case of the Hort Newsletter it is fitting not just for the Newsletter Editors to take a bow for this achievement, but for the whole team of contributors to accept this accolade, since it would not have been possible to produce this communications tool without the travel documentaries, the neighbourhood observations, the Hort projects, the comments and reports on all that we do as a Hort Society. So thank you all, and well done!

Our previous newsletters, designed and edited over the years by the creative talents of Richard Kerr, Judy Weinberg, Catherine Raven, Mary-Louise Craven, Judy Whalen, Jan Sugerman, Jonie Boyer, Jesse Kahn, Linda Reid, Len Senater, Jeff Essery, Barbara Bell, Connie Maurice, Clement Kent and Leena Raudvee was printed in black and white and distributed in paper format. It garnered much recognition and many awards at the District level. In 2012 we switched to electronic format, which enabled us to transition easily to colour. Most of our members now receive their newsletters by email but some still prefer to get paper versions by snail-mail. These are still printed in black and white. This is the same for our sibling District 15 organizations. The change to email has greatly reduced our newsletter expense; not so much due to the printing cost, but because of the cost of mailing.

The creative effort in producing this communication tool has been a wonderful learning experience. Where we go from here is to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors and do our very best to have the newsletter evolve and continue to be the voice of our collective membership by reporting the things we do and the things we should and would like to know about. With your continued help it will remain a fun and relevant read. Do any of YOU have ideas for the future? Would you like to take it the next step? We are not thinking of handing it over yet but if anyone has a burning desire…..

—Barbara Japp and Kathy Andrachuk, The Editors

Tuesday
May232017

May 29, 2017 - Merry May Meeting

Please click on the poster to find out more.