OUR HISTORY : A Look Back Over Time…….
Part 1: The beginning years…..
It’s a snowy Saturday in February, the groundhog saw his shadow today and everyone knows that means we have 6 more weeks of winter. All I can do now while waiting for Spring is nurture my indoor plants, let the snow disappear, and tend to some “unfinished” business.
A few months ago I promised our President Carol, that I would try to write something for our newsletter on the evolution and history of the Squamish Gardeners. Being sort of a pack-rat, I had kept old minutes and other bits of information about the club in a very neat notebook thinking that some day the information therein would be useful! So here I am at my computer, a nice hot cup of tea beside me, thumbing through old minutes that tell the story of how the Squamish Gardeners came into being, the paths taken by the group and who the players (gardeners) were. Please know that I’m not making up any of the following information….it’s all to be found in the paper trail of our minutes and newsletters, although as a casual writer, I will be making frequent editorial comments!
The first “formal” meeting of what was initially called the Squamish Garden Club was held on June 27th, 1994, 7:00 PM at the home of Fran Martin, Dryden Road, Brackendale. (That’s 14 years ago.) This was an organizing meeting (gathering of addresses, initiating a phone chain, discussing meeting places, possible club projects, and of course, who would bring the refreshments for the next meeting). Lots of gardening interests were raised and ideas flowed readily. (How do I control slugs? Can we share seeds and garden magazines? ). The first membership list for the club includes some familiar names: Marcie Phillips, Melissa Geddes, Mary Wild, Jill Gould among others.
At the July meeting the club’s official name was established: The Squamish Gardeners and the first executive elected (see box). Committees were formed (social, fundraising, programs/events, membership) and the membership fee was set at $10.00. Members were advised to bring 12 self-addressed stamped envelopes to the next meeting if they wished to receive the minutes by mail. ( Now aren’t we fortunate to have e-mail?) More gardening/fund raising ideas were shared such as holding a plant sale, and donating funds to the library for the purchase of gardening books. I’m missing minutes for the next few months (I probably forgot to bring my stamped envelopes) but I recall that meetings continued to be held at member’s homes because of the difficulty in finding a “free” meeting place and the group’s limited budget. The first financial report (October 1994) showed 20 paid-up members and a bank balance of $187.45. The only expenditure in 1994 was $20.00 for membership in the B.C. Council of Garden Clubs.
In 1995 the group met for several months at the Howe Sound Secondary School, then at member’s homes in the summer months with a garden tour included!. Wasn’t that nice incentive to attend. Later in the year meetings were held at Xanthine’s Coffee House, which later became The Pause Café. As a fund raiser the group held a “Squamish Gardener’s Dinner” at a cost of $10 at the home of Kathleen Brennan. (a delicious menu!) and surplus funds were given to the club.
Although the group provided a wonderful opportunity for socializing most members wanted more information on gardening in Squamish and more structure at the meetings. We wanted to “tap into local expertise”. The first invited guest speaker was Greg from Garibaldi Nurseryland who talked about disease and pest control in the garden. A moss basket day was held in the spring . (That was fun: much like making a Christmas Wreath but using spring flowers.) Farmers from Brackendale approached the group to assist in resurrecting the Squamish Fall Fair and members were enthusiastic in their support.
The idea of a meeting raffle was proposed by Tricia Scott. Cost of the raffle ticket was a loonie and the raffle prize must not exceed $15. The lucky winner would bring the prize for the next month’s raffle and be re-imbursed from the treasury.
By June of 1995 the membership stood at 25 including three gentleman gardeners: Don Cochrane, Don McAllister and Lawrence Minchin. The dues were now $12 per year and an extra $5 if you wanted the club secretary to mail you the minutes. Elections were held at the August meeting: President Tricia Scott, Vice-President Don Cochrane, Treasurer Jill Gould Past President Bev Carson. Program planning for the meetings was taken on by 4 volunteers, each being responsible for the educational programs for a 3 month period.
The bank balance at the end of 1995 was healthy and the Treasurer reminded the group that we needed to think about ways to spend the money. Some of the ideas proposed were making wreaths, setting up a club greenhouse, buying and painting terra-cotta pots, and so forth. The first Christmas dessert pot luck was held at Kathleen Brennan’s home where we made Christmas centerpieces. Member Jennifer Porter bought the decorating supplies for the club. (Jennifer still supplies our Christmas wreaths!)
Now I know that reading accounts from the past can be tedious and I don’t want to loose your interest. Tune in for more next month! By looking back, we can see where we’ve come from and also honor our long-time members who led us down the garden path to where we are now.
Part 2 Growing Pains………….
The next several years saw many changes in the fledgling club and a welcomed increase in membership. But finding a place to hold meetings was a big problem and the executive struggled with this for a long time. As the number of members grew to 25 plus, member’s homes were too small and various church halls, the senior centre, and other venues were either too costly or just not available. But luck was with us! The new Squamish Library had recently opened and Maureen Painter (Head Librarian) approached Jill Gould (Garden Club President) about the possibility of the garden club taking care of the library gardens in exchange for a rent-free meeting place. (Minutes state: this is a heck of a deal!) Once concerns about the district’s union members response to this proposal were laid to rest, the Garden Club enthusiastically accepted the offer and held the first meeting at the Library on July 20th, 1998. Garden Club members, working along with volunteers from the Friends of the Library, held work parties for weeding, mulching and sometimes planting. I remember that one year we planted red and white geraniums all along the front walkway. It was a stunning display.
Our first newsletter was born! Marcie Philips is credited with being the first editor as she struggled to learn Microsoft Word. Volume 1 (1997) began with less than 1/2 sheet of news and quickly expanded into a two column 3 page newsletter, full of information about nearby gardening events, and feature articles. In 1997 the dues were raised to $15 so that the Club could afford to make a $50 donation to the BC Council of Garden Club’s Scholarship Fund. The first perennial exchange was held in October in the parking lot behind the Library.
The very first notable out of town speaker was none other than David Tarrant who was booked for April 30th 1998. This was intended to be a fund raiser for the Club and the evening was a resounding success. All the tickets ($5 each for members...what a bargain!) were sold without any advertizing. The Club also held a raffle at the event which netted almost $125. Doug Boyd from the Garden Centre donated the container, plants, and potting soil for David’s beautiful planter, which was one of the coveted raffle prizes. Marcie writes in the Newsletter: “You will notice that I refer to him as David because he has a way of making you feel like he is a friend and not a noted celebrity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an Annual David Tarrant Night? ” It’s a joy to read Marcie’s newsletters. She shares how her own garden is progressing, conveys her love of plants (especially roses), and invites readers to stop by anytime for a cup of tea and a walk down her garden paths.
The Garden Club soon realized that the Squamish community would support events featuring noted speakers and Steve Whysall came to Squamish in July of 1998. His slide show and talk was another success and helped to put the Club on a secure financial footing. The Squamish Gardeners participated at Rose Park Day in June 1998 and at the Fall Fair showing their willingness to be involved in community service. We made a large purchase of a variety of daffodil bulbs, sold them to members and to the public at the Fall Fair. Interesting meeting programs were given by local residents—-Sandra Davis (Wild Onion: identifying herbs) and Karen Unger (making a living wreath with spring plants).
But a change was about to happen. Tricia Scott, one of the enthusiastic leaders in the Club, moved to New Jersey. Jill Gould took over as President, Marcie Philips became Secretary / Treasurer and the new position of Program Director was given to Pamela Dithurbide. Beth Coles (later Johnston) volunteered to be newsletter editor. Our newsletters took on a different look thanks to Beth’s desktop publishing program and the addition of clip art. Interesting captions appeared such as Posies from the Prez, Seeds of Wisdom, All the Dirt and Where the Bees Buzz. Garden Gourmet treated us to some interesting recipes such as Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes and for those with a sweet tooth….Mocha Mint Nanaimo Bars. Yummy!
1999 was another banner year for the Club. Brian Minter agreed to speak in February and talked about plant combinations, introducing us to blue and burgundy ornamental grasses which keep their foliage color all year round. A new community project was proposed: create a low maintenance courtyard garden for the Howe Sound Secondary School. The Club agreed to spend $400 for plants. At the time that seemed to be a HUGE expense just for plants. But have you visited there recently? If you do, overlook the disgusting litter and you will see that most of the original backbone plants are still thriving.
Kelly Pfleiderer hosted the Spring plant swap at her acreage in Paradise Valley and everyone that attended was given a bag of chicken manure. Now only a gardener could get excited about that! Marcie Phillips learned all those Latin plant names and became Squamish’s First Master Gardener. Members generously shared their gardening expertise with us: Audrey Peterson talked about shade plants, Christine Bennett showed us how to make garden stepping stones, and Ellen Grant toured us through her huge garden on a beautiful August evening. New member Alison Sturton entertained us with her eloquent articles in our newsletters under the title Rambling Rose. She describes touring Ellen’s garden as “a journey of discovery”. Alison and Carolyn Grass designed our logo and the portable Squamish Gardener’s sign. But the highlight of the year was without doubt, the first annual Squamish Garden tour held on July 10th. 12 Gardens were on that tour and the rest is history.
This is the end of my story. If you’ve stuck with me this far and your name has not been mentioned, I apologize. Many faithful members contributed greatly to the early success of the club: Kathleen Brennan, Debbie Donahue, Nancy Southam, Moira Begin-Pound to name just a few. Without a doubt, the success our Club enjoys today is based on the seeds sown by the early Squamish Gardener’s pioneers. Bravo!
Submitted by Beth Fitzpatrick
Details from Ingrid Hoff's Rhodi Presentation.
Rhododendrons have an amazing ability to bloom prolifically. There are not a lot of common names for them, and those that exist are easy to confuse. Ingrid mainly used scientific names throughout her discourse.
All azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas. The distinguishing feature is the number of stamens: azaleas have five, and rhododendrons have ten. There are several sub-genera of rhododendrons:Rhododendron Hymenanthes Azaleastrum Choniastrum The first two comprise around 90% of what we consider rhododendrons. Rhododendrons can be divided into lepidotes (“scurfy scales” on the underside of the leaf) and elepidotes, which have a smooth underside to the leaf.
Success with Rhododendrons is all about location and soil. For the most part they prefer dappled shade; they like a low pH; they prefer a moist well-drained soil. If the area is limed they cannot take up nutrients. They have shallow, surface roots, and are easy to transplant. Mulching, with pine needles is good; wood chips tend to break down and use up nitrogen.
Rhododendrons respond well to pruning, which should be done after they bloom. There are three types of pruning:Maintenance pruning, to remove diseased or broken branches. Cut well below the affected area – take out the whole branch. Disinfect pruners after use. Shaping: cuts can be made at the top of the leaf whorls. Rejuvenation: aggressive pruning can be done at any time. Stagger the cuts to have a natural look. Cut down to a latent bud.
Dead-heading is not absolutely necessary. Spent flowers can be snapped off, or secateurs can be used.
Seeds are difficult to propagate, as the seeds are small and the pod has to cure. An easier way is to take cuttings, best done in July. Use rooting compound, remove lower leaves of the spray, and cut each side of the stem.
Pests:The Lacebug is a sucking insect found on the underside of leaves. Infestations can kill the plant. They cause speckling – black and brown spots on the underside of leaves. This often happens in sunnier spots. In the Spring, spray the plant with a hose to dislodge the nymphs. The alternative is to do nothing and allow natural predators, such as the green lacewing (as good as or better than ladybugs) to manage them. Spraying with insecticidal soap is non-selective. Infestation by root weevil is characterised by notches in the leaf. The larval stage feeds on the roots. They can cause death by drought. As the insects are nocturnal, shake the plant at night, and the weevils will fall onto newspapers placed on the ground. Nematodes, which are very effective, can also be used – be careful to follow the directions.
Diseases:Root rot or stem die-back is not seen often. The causal organism lives in the soil, and can cause cankering. It is not fatal, but is very hard to get rid of. It is not specific to rhododendrons. The diseased area should be pruned out. Azalea leaf gall is a fungal disease, which does not kill the plant. Infected areas should be removed, and the fallen leaves should be cleared away. The galls are known as Pinkster’s apples, and are edible! Sudden oak death is caused by Phytophthora ramorum. This is causing problems in Oregon and California, and nurseries may be quarantined because of it. It is characterised by leaf tip damage.
Environmental stresses:Freezing and drought – rhododendrons droop leaves, which then curl up. Sunburn causes brown spots or uneven all-over yellowing. The plant needs to be moved. Nutrient deficiency – lack of nitrogen. Chlorosis, where the veins are green but the rest of the leaf is yellow, is caused by iron deficiency. Add fertiliser to the soil.
The size of rhododendrons can vary greatly. They are defined by height at 10 years. It is important to check labels when buying. Hostas and geraniums look good under rhododendrons.
The leaves can be very attractive. Rh. campanulatum has blue leaves in the Spring – it is an alpine Himalayan evergreen plant. Leaves can have different texture, shape and colour. Rh. rosevallum has a red underside to its leaves. An idumentum is a covering on the underside of the leaf in many rhododendrons. It is to protect the leaf (e.g., in cold areas of Asia) and stays on the leaf. A tomentum is a fuzzy covering on the top of leaves, which protects new growth from sunburn, cold and insects.
Popular cultivars:Anna Rose Whitney: hardy, large rose flowers with freckles, sun and cold tolerant. Eight ft. President Roosevelt: variegated leaf, can tend towards legginess with weak stems, benefits from pruning. Sappho: Flowers have purple splotches on white – mauve coloured buds. 6 ft. Sun tolerant, benefits from shaping. Vulcan: green leaves, red flowers. 5 ft. Heat and sun tolerant. One of the great plant picks. Deciduous azaleas: Northern Light series. Different colours, bloom in late May. 6-8 ft. Unique: buds are pink, flowers fade to apricot and then white. 4 ft in 10 years. Early to middle blooming. Blue Diamond: late April. Small leaves and flowers. Species (available from Rhododendron Societies). Rh. luteum – has a good fragrance. Rh. barbatum – Himalayan, 6 ft., bearded flowers. Rh. campanulatum – pink. RH. decorum is fragrant, from China and Burma. RH. assinoborinum is orange-yellow. The underside of its leaves are fragrant.
Check out the websites: www.rhododendron.org the American Rhododendron Society, which has a Vancouver Chapter.
The best time for viewing is March to June, with April and May as peak.
The New Victory Garden – Food For The Future
Global warming, rising grain prices, genetic engineering, irradiation of plant foods, loss of plant species – it is all too easy to feel helpless in the face of these modern-day dilemmas. On the other hand, there is mounting awareness of positive things that we can do to ensure that we will continue to have safe food in plentiful supply. Urban gardening (growing food plants in your home garden) is regaining popularity. Eating food produced closer to home ( the ‘Hundred Mile Rule’) limits pollution from fossil fuels. Organic gardening avoids contamination of fruits and vegetables with pesticides. Seed banks are storing heirloom varieties of seeds to maintain plant diversity, and the home gardener is encouraged to save seeds for planting next year.
These are not new ideas to Carolyn Herriot, who will be the Squamish Gardeners’ keynote speaker for 2008. Well before they became popular, Carolyn was putting them into practice. In 1999 she moved her family to a 2.5-acre property on the outskirts of Victoria and began gardening organically. By the end of only five years they were growing all the fruits and vegetables they needed to sustain themselves year-round, and saving seeds for future crops.
Carolyn now shares these concepts with others through her regular articles in GardenWise and CommonGround magazines, her book, A Year On the Garden Path, a 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide, and presentations to garden clubs. She is currently President of the Victoria Horticultural Society. Her business, called ‘Seeds of Victoria’ at The Garden Path, sells certified organic seeds (www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath). She blogs ‘The New Victory Garden’ weekly on-line at www.gardenwise.ca and teaches the ‘Twelve Steps to Sustainable Homegrown Food Production’.
Carolyn Herriot will speak at the Howe Sound Inn on Monday, May 12 at 7 pm. Tickets ($12 for Squamish Gardeners members and $15 for non-members) are available at Anna’s Attic, Billie’s Bouquet, The Garden Centre and Garibaldi Nurseries.
At our February meeting we were all pleased to have Mary Ballon, founder of West Coast Seeds, give us a very interesting talk with accompanying slides.This year is W.C.S.'s 25th. anniversary. It is their commitment to bring their customers the "highest quality and ethically sourced agricultural seed available".
She concentrated on vegetables but also included some beautiful pictures of flowers. There was much discussion and questions answered.
We all found her very personable and enjoyed her sense of humour.Now is the time to start thinking about seed propagation, especially after our few spring-like days this month.
Several catalogues were handed out, so get ordering! Included in the catalogue are new tools, new products and new seeds.
Our October Meeting:
The October meeting was held at the Brackendale Art Gallery on Monday, October 20 with the plant exchange at 6:30 and the meeting at 7:00. Liza Bennett spoke about irises, she offered some of her irises for sale.
Liza has lived in Squamish since 1997. She has a Diploma in Forestry from BCIT and worked in silviculture for ten years. In 2000 she completed the Capilano College program in Applied Landscape Horticulture, with a focus on nursery work. She subsequently worked as a plant grower in a Lower Mainland native plant nursery and then in a propagation nursery. She began a small, chemical-free, landscape company in Squamish with the idea of developing a niche nursery dealing in irises. Liza has been a collector of irises for a number of years. She inherited a large collection of bearded iris varieties from her grandmother. She has propagated irises from seed and from vegetative divisions. She now combines her landscape work and the sale of plants and pottery (produced in her home studio, which was featured on the recent Art Walk). She has had a booth in the Farmers Market over the summer, selling plants, particularly irises and hostas, as well as her pottery. Photos of some of the irises can be seen in the gallery section of her website, www.plantsandpots.ca . In Liza's words, her love of irises 'has become both a challenge and obsession, in collection, identification and now in propagation - one that is likely to continue until I can garden no more,'
Photo by Beth Fitzpatrick
March '09 Speaker:
Heike Stippler owns and operates Heike Designs in Whistler. She talked about Planning for landscape renos, design, and installations. Her website is http://www.heikedesigns.com
Wednesday, May 20th 2009, 7pm at the Eagle Eye Theatre:Speaker: Adam Gibbs, Gardens West Photographer. Topic: Photography in the Garden.
View some pictures of our Annual Christmas Wreath Decorating gathering (Dec. 2009) at the Brackendale Art Gallery.
Many thanks to Thor and Dorte for hosting this event.
At our April 2009 Club Meeting we were treated to a very useful and informative demonstration of Hanging Basket Construction by Jeff Larcombe.
The time was spent actually making a large Hanging basket with a wide variety of plants. Below are three links to pages of recipes showing which plants to use under different situations. You might like to print them out for future reference:
A Presentation to Dale Embree for all his Extra Work for Our Club this last year
Reinier Van de Poll gave an interesting and informative talk to a large group on Garden Design on Monday March 17th,