Valerie Knapp - Gardens of the Loire Valley


NOTE: A short AGM will be held at 7:30pm before the speaker begins.

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!


It’s that time of year—when we most need an injection of colour to remind us that spring is really just a couple of months away. This month, our fix is coming from long time Hort member Valerie Knapp. Valerie grew up in Muskoka where she inherited her mother’s avid interest in gardening through practise. As children, she and her siblings had the chore of weeding their mother’s rock garden before running down for a swim in the lake. In Toronto, both her garden and her art have been featured in the Hort’s Garden Tours. Therein lies the nexus of this month’s presentation: the intersection of art and gardens.

Valerie is a mixed-media and textile artist with an impressive body of work that, thanks to the internet, has caught the eye of people worldwide. Her series, Boxed Embroidery, was recently featured in the Australian magazine, Homespun. Valerie’s creative works have often included garden and plant-related themes and material. Don’t miss an opportunity to look at the many ways plants have inspired her at her website at http://www.valerieknapp.com.

Now most artists produce work to share with others and this is exactly the sentiment that drove her to consider putting together this month’s presentation: to share the images of the many beautiful, unusual, inspirational, breathtaking and voluptuous sights she and her husband were witness to on a recent trip to France.

From the proliferation of roses in every nook and cranny in the town of Chedigny to the allée of majestic sycamore trees at the Château de Chenonceau and the overflowing kitchen gardens in the extensive parterres at Château de Villandry, the descriptions alone of the images that Valerie will share with us warmed me on a recent blistery winter day! To see them and listen to her presentation will be a midwinter virtual journey (that we might one day wish to make ourselves) that will not only transport us to warmer days, but will also inspire creativity in our own gardens. Among some of the changes she’s made in her own garden is the use of vegetables in what was simply a decorative border, like the curly kale she saw throughout a town square on her trip.

This month’s presentation is not to be missed. Valerie has brought her extensive photographic experience and artist’s eye to bear on a gardening travelogue through the Loire valley. What could be more enticing on a cold January evening?

Maria Nunes

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