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 

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