Camissia and native columbine at Kathy’s Gove, Spring 2019



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!


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


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 - 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:


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. 


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


May 29, 2017 - Merry May Meeting

Please click on the poster to find out more. 


Merry May Meeting - May 29, 2017

Our next meeting will be on Monday May 29, 2017 at St George the Martyr Church, 197 John St at Stephanie and John Streets. The meeting will be in the FELLOWSHIP ROOM.


Merry is the theme of this last meeting of the season. 

  • Arrive early and enjoy a stroll in St. George’s garden, which is one of the Hort-funded garden projects.
  • Refreshments, as usual, will be available in the kitchen.
  • Raffle tickets will be sold for your chance to win items that include a gardener’s gift basket, books, a purse and gift certificate from Home Hardware. Purchase tickets at the meeting to win—$2 for one or $5 for three. 
  • The Spring Flower Show. Enter your design or simply enjoy the show.
  • Digital photos will be presented by Hort members for your enjoyment. Clement Kent will present Sights and Sounds of Spring, a video medley he created that includes birds, bees, flowers, rushing springs, crickets, frogs, butterflies and 90 year-old jazz recordings. Abby Bushby will present photos of delight, showing the children’s tulip planting and parade to the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden. 
  • The Trivia Quiz will have you answering unusual horticultural questions in exchange for a prize.
  • The Hort’s popular Garden Gloves will be available to purchase in time for your summer gardening days.
  • Awards will be announced and presented. Congratulate your fellow Hort members.

The Flower Show Theme: Fair Enough

That acclaimed highlight of the horticultural season, the Plant Fair, has provided many of us with wonderful additions to our gardens. For this year’s Flower Show (another highlight, needless to add) create a composition using plant material all, or in part, sourced from our Plant Fairs over the years. Please have your arrangements set up for judging (and our admiration, bien sur!) by 6:30pm. All plant material used must be from your own garden. Happy spring!
—Joni Boyer 


Plant Fair - May 13, 2017

Click on the Poster to find out more.


April 24, 2017 Meeting

To find out more, click on the poster below.


Lorraine Johnson - Gardens, Goats & Greenways: An Unconventional Tour of Paris

April 24, 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!

Quelle surprise…with Lorraine Johnson leading our adventure we’ll visit Paris community gardens with chickens, goats doing lawn care at Jardin des Tuileries and a 17th century peach wall being lovingly restored. Also, her new edition of 100 Easy to Grow Native Plants will be available at the meeting. 


I was mildly irritated that, in the first bio I wrote for April’s speaker some years back, I’d described the striking short- cropped hair and black and white striped leggings she was wearing the first time I saw Lorraine Johnson. Oh, well, can’t do that again. The fact is, mind you, that she hasn’t changed that much…the hair, the tall slender woman, the spoon and fork earrings, anyway. But that first meeting was over 30 years ago and I dare say, it’s really quite incredible that someone can write so many books and articles, speak all over North America on a variety of topics, and still manage to discover new things that surprise her! Good for us!

This time it’s the fledgling élevage d’animaux (animal husbandry) taking place in the City of Light. Until last year, Lorraine had an annual month-long, “best gig in the world”, cat-sitting arrangement in Paris, which is decidedly not élevage d’animaux. This gig allowed her to spend a lot of time discovering the city in a leisurely way. This past summer, she began to notice livestock in various places—goats ‘mowing’ the grounds of the Jardin des Tuileries by the Louvre, sheep performing the same task in other public parks, chickens in Monet’s garden and community gardens, and chickens and beehives on the rooftop of the four-star Pullman Hotel!

As she is sure to do, Lorraine will explain this discovery in its ecological and agricultural contexts. These were topics that informed her most recent book, City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, and propelled her into the spotlight as one of very few outspoken champions for the backyard chicken movement.

She is herself nesting on the Toronto Islands these days, where she and her new wife, Pam, eloped while awaiting the completion of a house reno. In the insular, wintry escape, they are plotting a rejuvenation of their garden, including Pam’s idea of using vertical space, which is fitting after Lorraine’s visit to ancient, espaliered peach orchards on the outskirts of Paris. As to her previous trio of hens, they’ve gone back to the farm, but when she reconvenes the little flock, she is now considering including quail!

Lorraine has also just published a revised edition of 100 Easy-To-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens (although it is really 101 plants, she confessed), which includes botanical name changes and a bit about pollinators. She will be happy to take questions on plants after her talk.

Maria Nunes 


March 27, 2017 Meeting

To find out more, click on the poster below.

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