President's Report - Sept 15, 2018

Why you haven’t seen the August or September Newsletters…

September greetings everyone. By the time you get this I hope we will be enjoying the return to cooler weather…is that happening yet?

I’d like to bring you up to date on some of the things that have been happening with the hort.

At the last AGM in November 2017 I talked about ACCEPTING CHANGE.

In the March 2018 newsletter we announced that I will be giving up the editorship of the newsletter and invited participation in deciding on the next step.

In the May newsletter I said:

We will be changing. The newsletter will be changing. The Hort activities may be changing. The traditions we established many years ago, before the current communication tools were developed, and before many local organizations arose with agendas and missions similar to ours, may not be the most efficient way to carry on into the future. Although we have a large membership, we do not have a large volunteer base to drive our numerous current programmes…

and that over the course of the summer we would be meeting to talk about how to go forward. We invited participation from the membership. Eighteen Hort members, including seven Board members, were able to participate and signified their willingness to be involved in this.

We met in early July and discussed the following issues:

  1. Our Purpose (Mission)
  2. Our Communication Tools
  3. Our Monthly Meetings
  4. Our Hort Activities

Based on the participation and lively discussion at this July meeting, we will now be rolling out the following changes.

  1. Our Purpose (Mission): Our Constitutional “Purposes” will be included within the Hort Happenings Calendar that all of our members will receive (new and returning members).
  2. Our Communication Tools: The Newsletter is being overhauled, shortened, streamlined. It will now be called the Parkdale & Toronto Hort Bulletin and will be circulated by email via a platform called MailChimp. Additionally, anyone will be able to sign up to receive our bulletin! Please, Please, if you have an email address accept the Bulletin by email instead of snail mail.
  3. Our Monthly Meetings: We will better define some rotating jobs to keep things running smoothly, and since our library has not been much used or managed in recent years we will be winding it down.
  4. Our Hort Activities: Descriptions about volunteer opportunities will detail not only the event but what the volunteer role entails. If we are looking for people to volunteer in the organizing of our Plant Fair, for example, we will also describe what this involves and what the member will need to do. All of our volunteering is fun and fulfilling but we realize that we perhaps have not done the best job in letting you all know the details.  

Yes, many of the items above will still need to evolve and be discussed at the Board level.

We welcome further discussion, either by email or at the General Meetings if we can keep it short, keeping in mind that we have a visiting speaker. Also, if you would like a more ‘in depth’ description of the July proceedings, please let us know.

Hortingly yours,

Barbara Japp, President


Jobs at the Hort Monthly Meeting

Dear Members,

Thank you for contributing some of your time to help us with our monthly meetings. Here is a description of the various jobs you can volunteer for using

Refreshment setup:  Get the refreshment cupboards out of the storage room. Make coffee and hot water for tea. Set up teas, milk, sugar, cookies/treats. Organize cups, donation basket, etc. BRING: Milk/Cream, Cookies (Give receipt to treasurer, you will be reimbursed tonight.)

Refreshment cleanup: Gather and clean cups at the end of the meeting, put away refreshment materials in cupboard. Hand off donations money to Membership coordinator. Put cupboard back in storage room.

Name tags: There should be a table to the hallway outside the kitchen door. Get the name tags box from the refreshment cupboards, and lay out in the plastic bags in alphabetical order. At then end of the meeting put away the name tags.

Room set-up: Set up projector screen, computer (tech equip), tables for name tags and other sale items, setting out chairs, and doing any light cleaning of chairs/tables required. At the end of the evening return tables to where they were.

Member and Visitor Liaison: Encourage members to wear their name tags, give visitors a Guest name tag. 

Sound Equipment: Coordinate with Ron as to setting up the sound equipment.

Lighting Director: Raise & lower lights as needed for speaker.



Welcome Package (for the recipient of the membership gift)

The following email will be sent to the recipient of the membership gift, unless you want to give it to them personally. (Please let us know.)

Subject: Welcome to The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto

Body: Happy Holidays!

Dear ____recipeint’s name_____,

____purchaser’s name_____ has purchased a one year membership to the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto… just for you!

Attached, you will find a Welcome Package which includes a message from our president, details about upcoming horticultural talks, and a calendar of events.

We are so pleased to have you as a member.

Welcome to The Hort.


The Hort Board


The following document will be attached to the email, as a pdf:



Plants In Opera

Reprinted from the Aug 2016 newsletter of THE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETIES OF PARKDALE AND TORONTO.

This summer, I went on a holiday trip to Europe. Curious as it may seem, my object was not to visit gardens but to see operas at the Munich and Bregenz Opera Festivals (7 shows in 11 days). I want to share this with you but how can I do this in the context of a horticultural society newsletter? Well, plants appear in opera, sometimes as important items in the action of the story, sometimes as potions for death or love, sometimes as poetic imagery.

Easily, I was able to call to mind a number of examples: from the Shakespeare set of operas by Verdi and others, like Macbeth’s Birnam Wood, the herb list in Hamlet/Amletto, and the strawberry handkerchief in  Othello (yes, there are operas on many of these plays), to Handel’s Xerxes, as a love song to a tree! Some more familiar operas containing even more references are: La Bohème and Madama Butterfly by Puccini, the Faust operas, Die Rosenkavalier about a silver rose, and the greatest rose reference of all, Carmen, and then Wagner and more Verdi and more Strauss, and more…what a richness! I can’t describe them all so I shall make a choice from all these riches.

First, some research. Research is very different from days past; I am no longer hauling heavy tomes from the shelf, now I Google it. So, searching on plants and flowers in opera produced a fair amount of information. Wait a minute…there is a better way…why don’t I just ask my friends.

I am active on a Facebook site called Met Opera Live in HD Fans. During the Metropolitan Opera season, we discuss the season’s productions, comparisons with previous productions, availability of DVDs and downloads, cast members, sets…all that stuff. Out of season, like now, we share info on what other productions have been put on YouTube, our bucket lists for productions we would like to see, what we have seen in summer festivals, and when we are going to see the new season productions. So I posted a note:

Greetings, Opera Buffs. I am writing an article for my horticultural society newsletter to join two of my passions, opera and plants. Can you think of some operas that reference plants or flowers? As examples, I have Carmen, some Wagner operas, the Shakespeare operas by Verdi and others, some Puccini references and Der Rosenkavalier.  Anything else come to mind?

Within a day I had more than 150 responses on a good 50 operas, some I had not previously known, by many, many composers. Be careful what you ask for. But thanks, guys!

Now…what to write about. I can’t include all due to space considerations, so I have chosen to write about some works of my favourite composer, Richard Wagner, and about botanical references in three operas, Parsifal, Die Meistersinger and The Ring of the Nibelung (which is actually 4 operas to tell the whole story).

PARSIFAL: This opera is about the Knights of the Holy Grail. It is a relatively short Wagner opera lasting only 4 hours. In the first act, potions and poultices (Balsam from Arabia) are offered to ease the pain of the injured King. They don’t work. In the second act, Parsifal, the still innocent tenor, visits the castle garden of the bad guy, which is inhabited by maidens traditionally dressed as flowers. These days the girls are oftenTraditional Production from 1975 shown as something crazily or symbolically different, sometimes entirely artificial, and from the way they act it is doubtful that they are maidens. Ah well, that’s the way of the modern designs in opera. In the third act, Parsifal, less innocent but still a tenor, returns to the Grail Knights on Good Friday and notes that the meadows are full of flowers. This is God’s Blessing on the holy day, which the very beautiful music describes. The Good Friday Spell is sometimes played on its own in orchestral concerts. 

DIE MEISTERSINGER: Longer, at 5.5 hours, this is Wagner’s only comedy and some of it is pretty raucous. It features Hans Sachs, a historical medieval poet and shoemaker (and curiously not a Tenor), and is about the nature of art and the creative process; is it determined by rules or by inspiration? At one point Hans Sachs smells the aroma of the Elder Tree and it stimulates him on to the first of his wonderful philosophical monologues. The love poem/prize song that is developed during the course of the opera is an ecstatic (yes, it really is) description of the garden in which sits the muse, the loved one.

“Shining in the rosy light of morning, the air heavy with blossom and scent, full of every unthought-of-joy,a garden invited me and, beneath a wondrous tree there, richly hung with fruit, to behold in blessed dream of love, boldly promising fulfilment to the highest of joy’s desires, the most beautiful woman: Eva in Paradise.”

THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG: These stories are from Norse mythology about a struggle amongst the Gods, dwarves, dragons, giants, and men and their descendants. This required 4 operas, Das Rheingold, Die Walkure (Valkyrie), Siegfried and Gotterdammerung (The Downfall of the Gods), of approximately 20 hours performed usually over 4 days. The struggle is for the usual stuff: gold, power and world domination, and follows the cursed Rhinegold (magic gold) as it leaves a path of death and destruction from the Rhinemaidens (water sprites); to the Nibelung (dwarf) Alberich; to the God Wotan; to the giant Fafner who then turns into a dragon; to the man Siegfried (Wotan’s grandson); to the Valkyrie Brunnhilde (Wotan’s daughter, formerly Goddess and then human); back to the Rhinemaidens after it has been cleansed of its curse by Brunnhilde’s love, by fire and by the river (deep breath). Love redeems the world, ok, and then the story starts again. The family lineages are a treat.  For a comedic and unforgettable description of these operas, see  Anna Russell.

Yggdrasil, the World Ash TreeThe World Ash Tree figures in this work as a very important part of the story line. Wotan, the chief God, has made his staff of power from a branch of this tree. The world is controlled by the laws and contracts that have been written on this staff but Wotan is not free to act on intuition as the wooden staff (the law) is stiff and cannot bend. In another ash tree growing through the roof of a house (yes, really), Wotan has stored a sword he made for his human son, Siegmund, for the time of his need. The staff is eventually broken by Siegfried, Siegmund’s son (using his father’s sword), who in his innocence is free to operate entirely on intuition and passion, and this act leads to the downfall of the Gods. (Wagnerian rock/paper/scissors).

The golden apples of the Goddess of Youth and Beauty, Freia, figure in the first opera, Das Rheingold. This goddess and the apples, which keep the gods young, were in danger of being used as payment to the giants but the cursed Rhinegold was used instead.

Three potions figure in these operas: one of sleep in Die Walkure, one of poison, which doesn’t work, in Siegfried, and the third of forgetfulness in Gotterdammerung. The first and the third cause a change in direction of the plotline.

So you can see this is complicated stuff but it only tickles the surface of what happens in works of other composers with a lot of references to roses, herbs, gardens, flower perfume, potions of sleep, love, magic and poison, magical transformations, miracles and of course, the greatest herbals of all time, wine, beer and schnapps.

Barbara Japp


Elizabeth Stewart's Seed List

Prepared for the Horticultural Society of Parkdale and Toronto meeting, Feb 24, 2014. Thank you, Elizabeth. Click here to download a pdf of the list.


  • Amaranthus Viridis, green Love Lies Bleeding
  • Ammis Majus, Laceflower
  • Anagallis, blue pimpernel
  • Aquilegia, Royal Purple, double, dark
  • Bachelor Buttons, Jubilee Gem
  • Bachelor’s Button, dwarf, blue
  • Bachelor’s Button, regular, white
  • Blue Woodruff
  • Calendula Cream Beauty
  • Calendula, Dwarf Fiesta
  • Calendula, Indian Prince, orange/maroon
  • California Poppy
  • California Poppy, mixed
  • Chinese Larkspur
  • Cosmos,  Sunset
  • Cosmos, Bush Lights
  • Cosmos, Cosmic Orange
  • Cosmos, Sonata, mixed
  • Dianthus, Black & White Minstrels
  • Gomphrena, white
  • Larkspur, Blue Cloud / Chinese
  • Marigold, Tangerine Gem
  • Mignonette
  • Millet
  • Morning Glory Mix
  • Morning Glory, Grandpa Ott’s, purple
  • Nasturtium, Dwarf Jewel
  • Nigella hispanica
  • Nigella, Exotic
  • Poached Egg
  • Poppy, Cedric Morris, annual, mixed pastels
  • Poppy, Opium Pink
  • Poppy, Venus
  • Portulaca
  • Snapdragon, Peaches & Cream, short
  • Snapdragon, Royal Bride, tall, white
  • Statice, pale yellow
  • Stock, dwarf
  • Stock, Evening Scented
  • Stock, Starlight Sensation
  • Sunflower, Pacino Cola
  • Sunflower, Pacino, short, orange/maroon
  • Sweet Pea, Cupani
  • Sweet Pea, Matucana
  • Sweet William, Sooty, very dark maroon
  • Verbena Bonariensis



  • Arugula
  • Arugula, Wild
  • Beans,  Painted Lady (runner, pole) CG
  • Beans,  Sunset  (runner, pole) CG
  • Beans, Blauhilde (blue pole)
  • Beans, Dragon’s Tongue
  • Beans, Dragon’s Tongue, yellow beans with purple stripes and spots
  • Beans, Fin de Bagnol
  • Beans, Hopi Black, purple flowers
  • Beans, Maxibel
  • Beans, Neckargold (yellow pole)
  • Beans, Royal Burgundy
  • Beans, Straight & Narrow
  • Beans, Straight and Narrow, filet style
  • Beans, Valdor (yellow bush)
  • Beet, Burpee’s Golden
  • Beet, Chiogga, pink and white concentric rings
  • Beets, Bull’s Blood
  • Beets, Lutz
  • Cucumber Lemon (Cottage Gardner)
  • Cucumber, Marketime
  • Cucumber, Salad Bush
  • Ground Cherry
  • Kale, Redbor
  • Kale, Tuscan, Nero
  • Leek, Blue Falaize
  • Lettuce, Bronze Arrow CG
  • Lettuce, Buttercrunch
  • Lettuce, Corn Salad, Jade
  • Lettuce, Little Gem
  • Lettuce, Red Coral CG
  • Lettuce, Rhodos (frisee)
  • Lettuce, Royal Oakleaf
  • Lettuce, Speckles
  • Lettuce, Tom Thumb CG
  • Lettuce, Traviso
  • Mesclun, Richter’s special mix
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard, Red Giant
  • Onion, Egyptian (plant)
  • Pepper, Ancho
  • Pepper, Earliest Red
  • Pepper, Hungarian Wax hot
  • Pepper, Kung Pao Chilli
  • Pepper, Sweet Banana
  • Pole Beans, Painted Lady, red & white flowers
  • Pole Beans, Rattlesnake Snap
  • Pole Beans, Trionfo Violetto, lavender blooms, purple beans
  • Rapini, San Marzano
  • Red Lambsquarters
  • Squash, Cornell’s Bush Delicata
  • Squash, Cream of the Crop
  • Swiss Chard, Bright Lights, multi coloured
  • Swiss Chard, Rainbow
  • Swiss Chard, Ruby
  • Tomato, Cherokee Purple
  • Tomato, Green Zebra
  • Tomato, Riesenstraube, bunches like grapes
  • Tomato, San Marzano
  • Tomato, Stupice
  • Tomato, Yellow Brandywine
  • Tomato, Yellow Currant
  • Tomato, Yellow Pear 



Blooms and Roses Hort Coach Tour

On Saturday June 22, 2012, we are off and rollin’ down the road, in our Deluxe Motor Coach. First we will visit Palatine Fruit & Roses. They are a grower of roses with lots to teach us and even more to show us. Eva and her husband will see that we have an instructive commentary on Roses and the chance to purchase some of the beautiful specimens that they grow.
Lunch is buffet style at the Best Western Beacon Inn. While we dine the glassed room we can view the marina and Lake Ontario. Our buffet will include a variety of salads, vegetables, Penne pasta, Roasted Chicken followed by an assortment of desserts and coffee or tea.
A Private garden is the next stop of the day. Wayne Rubel’s garden has been featured in more than one magazine and you will see why. A carpenter by trade, his arbors, ponds and plantings are sure to amaze. Better bring a camera!
Then we make our way to Magnotta Winery for a little sampling and tasting. Fruit of vine as they say. An award winning winery with lots of choose in their wines for sale.
When we arrive at our last stop you will be glad that we brought the big bus. There is lots of room for purchases in the luggage compartment! We are going to Northland Nurseries in Clapison Corners. Everything in the place is $5.99 for a 1 gal pot! I have never seen such a variety of plants, with colours available that are very hard to find. Make your wish list and bring it along. This is the stop that it is hard to get everyone to leave. From here we will make our way for home. We will have new ideas and new friends!!
  • Price of $70.00 per person
  • All transportation, stops as outlined, lunch, taxes included 
  • Coach Departs Bloor & Keele Subway at the Indian Road Side 
  • 8 am departure with an estimated return of 6:45 pm
  • Wear comfortable shoes, bring a sun hat, sun screen, a rain coat, water and spending money if you like
  • Tour is on rain or shine
  • Sorry no refunds
Forward cheque payable to “Hort. Societies of Parkdale and Toronto” to Patrick Mulroney, 153 Westminster Ave., Toronto, ON M6R 1N8. Please write on the back of the cheque the names of each participant you are paying for. Questions? Please email

President's Report November 2012

As I prepare to hand over to the next President I’ve thought back to late 2010 – what I hoped to achieve, what we did achieve, and what remains to be done.
In 2010 I determined that moving the Hort into the web era was the most positive task and the one with the most potential for savings in the annual budget. I’m happy to report that two years later, we have largely completed the transition, have saved about 20% of our annual expenditures, and have lots of room for new material and ideas in our new newsletter and website. In fact, one of the win-win challenges for the Hort going forward will be to make more use, and more creative use, of the capabilities we now have for colour illustrations, for links, and for up-to-the-minute feedback to and from our members. Plus, we can do all this within our existing smaller production budget.
This success is largely due to the hard work of the Newsletter and Web committees, and I would like especially to thank Barbara Japp, Emieke Geldof, Michael Geldof, Kathy Andrechuk, Bill Cheng, and Judy Whalen for their efforts. Some change comes with losses. I would be the first to admit that our print-only newsletter had more elegant formatting, but its costs in both people time and $$ were higher than the new solution and we could not provide colour images. Most of membership have digital cameras – please send us some of your lovely garden or plant pictures.
In 2010 I thought we could increase the number of new younger members of the Hort. We have been only modestly successful, and I’d identify this as one of the most important priorities for us all going forward. Go meet those new neighbours who have a pot of basil or marigolds, chat with them, perhaps offer them a cutting from your garden, and invite them to a Hort meeting to enjoy a great speaker. And be sure to introduce them to other Hort members in your neighbourhood! This is how we grow.
I spent a significant amount of time in 2011 looking to find ways for us to tap into other sources of financing, such as charitable status. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that this is not feasible for us in the short term. However, there are many sources of plant and garden material, tools, and small grants which we can look at in the future. I think with a bit of focus on this, we could easily double our funding for community projects in the years to come.
It’s been an interesting two years! I thank the Board and all the volunteers in the Hort who have made it possible.
- Clement Kent

Ten Tips for Dividing Perennials

  1. Start as early as possible—early April is good. Even if shoots are up only an inch or two, you can dig or divide it. (This presupposes you remember which plants are which in your garden.) It is better to pot up smaller, younger plants as, with less top growth, there is less set-back to the plant. Roots, once out of the ground, warm up faster. The main benefit of early digging is that the plant has time to overcome transplant shock and become established, resulting in a happier, better-looking plant in time for the sale.
  2. You can dig up the whole plant and divide it or chop pieces from the edges of a clump using a spade. If you decide to dig up the whole plant there are various ways of dividing it. You may be able to tease the root apart by hand (e.g. day lilies). A large woody or dense fibrous root will need to be chopped or cut apart using a spade, sharp knife, secateurs or small tree saw.
  3. Larger divisions are preferable to very small ones, however this is relative. Try to avoid potting up very large ones (or large whole plants); these can be difficult for people to carry home. Besides, if you can create two or more divisions from one plant, we will have more plants to sell. (Share the wealth.)
  4. You may need to trim the root ball to fit the pot. I use my secateurs for this but sharp scissors may also work. Ideally, there should be a minimum ½ inch space around the root ball, to be filled with potting soil.
  5. Please try to avoid having roots showing or hanging over the top of the pot. This causes the plant to dry out, and just looks bad. If the plant ends up sitting a little high in the pot, remove it and trim some of the root off the bottom! Or use a larger pot.
  6. Each new division should have some foliage (or shoots) and lots of roots. If the plant appears too top heavy trim some of the growth off! (Don’t be afraid, it will grow back.)
  7. When dividing iris or other rhizomatous plants, use a sharp, clean knife to cut the rhizomes into pieces, each containing two or three bud eyes. Allow them to air dry for about an hour to heal wounds before potting them up. If dividing peonies, a larger piece of root with more eyes is better, as they take longer to recover. Ideally, peonies should be divided in the fall. If you plan to donate a peony, consider potting it up whole, unless it is very large.
  8. Please, just donate your plants and not your garden soil. By using a light weight potting soil, compost or a mixture of these, you will end up with a lighter pot, while retaining your own good garden soil. Fill the space around the root ball with soil mix and tamp down with your fingers to eliminate air pockets and to firmly settle the division into the pot. 
  9. Once potted up, water your divisions thoroughly and place in a sheltered spot, out of sun and wind which can quickly dry out newly dug plants. Water as required, especially if the weather turns hot. After a couple of weeks, you can move the pots into sun for part of the day (early morning sun is best) to harden them off.
  10. It is not necessary to fertilize your new divisions; in fact it is probably better if you don’t. It’s best to fertilize after they have been planted in their new home.

There you have it—in 10 easy steps! Think of the benefits: you will have finally got out into the garden to enjoy a lovely spring day; you will have thinned out your plants; and your Hort will benefit from receiving your divisions. I call this a win-win situation. Happy digging.


Vegetable Garden Tour 2011

One sunny Saturday in September 2011 the Hort took patrons on a tour of many productive vegetable and herb gardens in the Parkdale-High Park area. Well known Toronto garden writer Lorraine Johnson gave a talk and signed copies of her book, City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Gardening. There were also speakers in some of the gardens, including Carolin Taron who has helped create several public gardens in West Toronto.

The inaugural 2011 tour was a great success, due no doubt to the fine weather ordered in advance by Beth Kapusta. (You don’t have to take my word, she told me she did it!) We saw great gardens, ranging from the 19th century heritage vegetables at Colborne Lodge to a thoroughly 21st century garage-top planting.

For more Vegetable Garden Tour photos click here.


Spirit of '68 at the Spring Flower Show

Can it be true? Yes, 40 years have sped by since Prague Spring, the Paris Student Riots, and Monterey Pop. Now we’re all so sedate, swaning around all in black with our opera tickets and yoga mats. Well, I say let’s get back the esprit of that exciting, anything could happen era. Only this time around, instead of Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll, we’ll say it with flowers (well, maybe a bit of Advil….). So, get in touch with your inner soixante-huitarde/’Flower Child’ and, using (legal) plant material from your own spring garden, create an arrangement that revisits the Sixties, riotous colour, rules made to be broken, Jimi and Janis and the Age of Aquarius. Have your creation ready for admiration and judging by 6:45 PM.  Peace, brothers and sisters.

Joni Boyer