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Archives for May 23, 2016

Chelsea Flower Show: Career-obsessed young designers ‘play it safe’ with boring gardens, says Diarmuid Gavin

“Designers want to make a name for themselves and get employed,” said Gavin, 52.

“That’s understandable and I don’t blame them. But I would like to see a bit more adventure, especially with the younger designers.  They are playing it safe.

“Their gardens are elegant and beautiful- that’s lovely but there’s no point just being pretty.”

 He added that they need to “bring some intellect and passion” to their designs.

Gavin, who won a gold medal in 2011 for his Irish Garden, which was the first exhibition to be suspended in mid air. This year, he has been commissioned by Harrods to design a British-themed Chelsea garden.

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Hillier hope for gold for new RHS Chelsea garden design

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Pascal Family Group reimagines Talbot restaurants

Laurel Atkiss, a server at Talbot Smokehouse, prepares to deliver a family meal platter, which includes a whole chicken, a half pound of brisket, a half pound of pulled pork, a full rack of ribs, two sides, pickles, onions, white bread and house barbecue sauce.

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Education Briefs

Posted May. 22, 2016 at 10:43 PM

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Chicago access, small businesses underscore 3rd Ward’s progressive identity

On May 17, 1970, prompted by the student strikes and shooting at Kent State University earlier that month, residents of the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Hinman Avenue, situated in the 3rd Ward, declared independence from the United States for two hours as a protest against the Vietnam War.

James Moran, a Hinman Avenue resident who later served as a U.S. Federal Judge, helped organize the event, which Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) said shows the ward’s long history of being generally politically progressive — a trend she said continued in March’s Illinois presidential primary elections, when half the precincts in the 3rd Ward supported Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The 3rd Ward, bordered by Dempster and Lake Streets to the north, Calvary Cemetery to the south and Lake Michigan and two sets of train tracks to the east and west, has a more metropolitan feel than other wards, which some residents attribute to its collection of small businesses and easy access to transit.

The ward hosts two of Evanston’s major commercial districts, on Main Street and Dempster Street, and a long history of political activism — even before the Vietnam War protest, residents of the 3rd and 1st wards concerned about zoning, land use and historical and environmental preservation banded together to form the Southeast Evanston Association, a group still active in the area.

The 3rd Ward borders a portion of Evanston’s beachfront — an asset some residents outside the ward find difficult to access. But Wynne emphasized the public nature of Lee Street and South Boulevard beaches, which are included in her ward.

“So much of why people live here is that access to the lake all year round,” Wynne said. “Those are such treasures because they’re the communal place where everyone goes and hangs out.”

The ward tempers its urban feeling and plentiful businesses with a community feeling, striking a balance between city and suburb, said David Lipschutz, owner of Blind Faith Cafe, 525 Dempster St., and a longtime 3rd Ward resident.

“It’s a nice place to live, to play, to eat, to hear music,” he said. “It’s not suburbia, not strip malls and developments, but it’s not the city either.”

Gateway to Chicago

Historically, Evanston’s growth came from the train lines, which connected the city to downtown Chicago. The Metra and CTA stations at Main Street continue to be a source of growth and access for the 3rd Ward, with residents commuting into Chicago for work and Chicago residents visiting the ward for its many small businesses.

“Over the years, the two train lines have really shaped who lives in the 3rd Ward,” Wynne said. “The idea that you need a car for everything you do, that’s never been the case here.”

Shops and restaurants line Main Street in the 3rd Ward. Main Street is one of two commercial districts in the ward, which is home to many small businesses.

Daniel Tian/Daily Senior Staffer
Shops and restaurants line Main Street in the 3rd Ward. Main Street is one of two commercial districts in the ward, which is home to many small businesses.

Wynne, a resident of one of the Hinman blocks that seceded in 1970, was one of those commuting residents — she used to travel to her job at a law firm in Chicago’s then-Sears Tower from her home.

The 3rd Ward is also near Rogers Park, a Chicago neighborhood bordering Evanston. Resident Sarah Laing, a 32-year-old artist said she likes living close to the restaurants, shops and other businesses in Rogers Park.

“To me, it’s the most urban area in Evanston,” said Laing, who finds it reminiscent of the Chicago neighborhoods where she spent a lot of time during her childhood. “You can walk to anything you need in our ward — the school, the grocery stores, restaurants.”

The Metra and CTA trains draw people into the ward from Chicago, as well. Amy Wilkinson, a resident of the 9th Ward and taproom manager at the recently opened Sketchbook Brewing Co. Tap Room, 821 Chicago Ave., in the 3rd Ward, said she’s seen a lot of Chicago residents come in for a beer since Sketchbook expanded from its alley location to a taproom across the street from the Main Street stations last month.

“We’ve seen that become a more of a factor over the past month,” Wilkinson said. “Before, when we were selling beer to take home out of our location in the alley, it was more local residents, but now we do see more people coming up from Chicago.”

Starting small

Sketchbook is just one of many small businesses in the 3rd Ward. Restaurants like Oceanique and Lucky Platter sit alongside Brothers K Coffeehouse, which Laing said hosts many neighborhood meetings, on Main Street. The internationally-distributed Few Spirits, started in 2011 by Paul Hletko, a parent at Lincoln Elementary School in the 3rd Ward, is tucked in an alley off Chicago Avenue.

Hletko, a resident of the 9th Ward, said the 3rd Ward was the perfect spot to start the craft distillery — even if it meant overcoming 160 years of Prohibition tradition and laws to create the first alcohol produced in Evanston.

“We decided we’ve got to keep it here, got to give back to the community,” Hletko said. “The city was a fantastic partner — we were the beneficiary of a lot of support from Alderman Wynne.”

One way small businesses such as Few give back to the community is through fundraisers and donations to the Lincoln Elementary School auction, Laing said.

Though Few Spirits and Sketchbook are fairly new, others, such as Blind Faith Cafe, have been staples in the 3rd Ward for decades.

“When you think about the neighborhood you grew up in, there are probably a few places you think of as the backdrop to your life,” said Lipschutz, who began working at Blind Faith shortly after it opened in 1979 and assumed ownership a few years later. “For many people, the Blind Faith Cafe has been that. I had people who came in here, they met, they dated, they had kids, their kids worked here, they went off to school, got married, had kids and brought their kids here.”

Lipschutz said while Blind Faith has remained a constant in the community, he’s seen significant changes to the area around the restaurant over the past 30 years.

The Dempster business district, home to Blind Faith, and the commercial district at Main, where Sketchbook is located, are now unified along the corridor of Chicago Avenue that connects them as a “special service area” called the Main-Dempster Mile. The special service designation attaches a levy to property taxes within the area to support services such as additional landscaping, advertising and garbage collections to make it more welcoming to consumers.

Growing pains

Residents of the 3rd Ward said their community faces many of the same issues shared by the rest of Evanston and other cities nationwide — rising property costs, taxes, crowded schools and, in light of Illinois’ nearly year-long budget stalemate, lack of state funding.

In addition, the thriving small businesses that characterize the 3rd Ward bring a slow but steady progress of economic development, Laing said, but also raise concerns about gentrification pricing people out of the ward.

“We keep wondering if the 3rd Ward is going to get more expensive as these businesses keep moving in,” Laing said.

Wynne, too, said she’s heard concerns about rising costs in some blocks of the 3rd Ward, as well as some uneasiness about commercial development around Chicago Avenue making changes to the density and character of the ward.

A new building under construction at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Main Street, 835 Chicago Ave., has been the focus of some of these comments, Wynne said. The building, currently under constructed in a lot that was empty for years after the 2008 recession, will have retail space on the bottom floor, a floor of office buildings and apartments when it’s slated to open this fall.

Wynne said residents had been accustomed to using the empty lot and are worried about a new building altering the dynamic of that section of the ward.

“Because (the lot) was vacant for nine years, people got very used to having that large open grassy lot for their dogs and their kids to play on it,” Wynne said. “I know some people don’t like how it looks, but that’s true for every building we build — people are going to like it and people are going to hate it, and people don’t like that it’s change.”

Lipschutz and his wife, Laurie Calhoun, noted Evanston’s high property taxes as a major issue for residents, one that pushes some 3rd Ward natives to look for housing elsewhere.

The 3rd Ward used to be more of an affordable stepping-stone for people to move into north Evanston or other North Shore neighborhoods, Wynne said, but after the market crash of 2008, many living in apartments or condominiums in the 3rd Ward stayed put. Since then, an interest in “new urbanism,” an urban design movement focused on creating cities with schools, workplaces, residences and shops in easy walking distance, has made the 3rd Ward very desirable, Wynne said.

With that desirability has come some pressure on the ward’s only public school, Lincoln Elementary School, 910 Forest Ave. Enrollment at Lincoln increased by 112 percent from 2008 to 2014, prompting worries from parents about overcrowding, large class sizes and stretched resources, Laing said.

“These are issues that you can see across the board, but I think that’s our greatest asset, too — we love that our kids get exposure to all sorts of real life issues,” Laing said.

Residents said the 3rd Ward has always engaged with these issues. From the Hinman Avenue protest to Lincoln’s International Family Festival, an annual cultural celebration at the school, the ward continues to bustle with new ideas.

“We’ve seen Evanston become much more commercially and economically diverse and secure,” Lipschutz said. “Despite all the changes in the skyline and economics, the community has maintained a certain progressive economic diversity.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @maddycfox

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WAY BACK WHEN IN ONTARIO COUNTY: A pioneering female landscape architect

There is no doubt about it, I am a frustrated gardener. When I was a child my family — most of whom could root a rosebush by sticking a cutting under a Mason jar — excelled at growing many different types of plants.

My grandmother, Lucy, had a garden that was the envy of her neighborhood. On a lot that was 40-by-100 feet with a double house and a garage taking up most of the land, she converted a small patch of lawn roughly 15-by-18-feet into a garden with every type of decorative plant imaginable. There was even a vegetable patch next to the garage that produced beans, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and some raspberries. The flower garden and the vegetable garden were separated by a hedge of filbert trees, much to the joy of the local squirrel population. Lucy could make any plant grow. Unfortunately my “green” thumb is more a pale seafoam green color.

I am even more aware of my horticultural shortcomings because some of the best green thumbs in the world once lived in Geneva. Between the many nurseries, the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, fruit farms and wineries, thousands of local people have worked developing plants and designing gardens.

One of those folks was famed landscape architect Marian Cruger Coffin and her mother, Alice Church Coffin. In 1888 they moved to Geneva to live with Alice’s sister, Harriet, after Marian’s father, Julian, died from complications of malaria and left only $300 for his wife and daughter to live on. By 1892 the women were residing with Marian’s uncle, John Barker Church IV, a civil engineer who lived at 554 S. Main St. One account recalled Marian as being so frail she was tutored at home instead of attending school, but her friend, Warren Hunting Smith, recounted that she “rode horseback with ease and grace.”

Marian apparently thrived in the care of the Church family and the community of Geneva. According to Smith, she developed an adventurous spirit and imaginative mind. While Alice and Marian were relatively poor, they still had many upper class connections due to Alice’s family; those connections became very helpful to Marian later in life. Since Marian had no independent income she faced the choice of finding a rich husband or a career to support herself. She chose the latter and in 1901 Alice and Marian moved to Boston so Marian could attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to receive the training necessary to establish a career in architectural landscaping and become self-supporting.

It took a lot of determination and courage for any woman to pursue a career in the early 1900s since, as fellow student Martha Brooks Brown put it, “It was considered almost social suicide and distinctly matrimonial suicide, for a woman to enter any profession.” The social norm of the time was for men to marry younger women and Marian was 25 when she entered MIT.

Upon graduation in 1904, Marian found no architectural firm would hire her because she was a woman. So in 1905 she started her own business in New York City. Having connections to some of the most influential families on the East Coast, she started designing suburban gardens. Some of her first customers were on Long Island and eventually her clientele included the Fricks, Vanderbilts, Huttons and du Ponts. She became one of the most sought after landscape designers in the eastern United States by the 1920s.

As her reputation spread, she was able to hire an assistant and move to a larger office. She was also able to put her ideas and principles into practice and she employed women whenever possible. Marian gave women a chance to apprentice, a learning opportunity that had been denied her when she began studying.

Many of Coffin’s ideas and theories are evident in the gardens of the du Pont estate at Winterthur in Delaware. Designed for her friends Harry and Ruth du Pont, it was the biggest commission of her career. She also made attempts to find landscape design work in the Midwest but the presence of several well-known firms in Chicago prevented her from making inroads in that area. However, she had plenty of jobs to keep her busy on the East Coast. The majority of her work was done in the 12 years between the end of World War I and the Great Depression.

The Great Depression of the 1930s reduced the number of commissions she received, but Coffin worked consistently until her death at age 80 in 1957. During her working lifetime she designed more than 130 gardens, including the campus of the University of Delaware, the Caumsett Estate on Long Island, Winterthur in Delaware and dozens of individual estate gardens. Nancy Fleming’s book “Money, Manure Maintenance: Ingredients for Successful Gardens of Marian Coffin Pioneer Landscape Architect 1876-1957,” centers on her life and designs. It was published in 1995 by Country Place Books of Weston, Mass.

Osburn is the Geneva city historian and Geneva Historical Society archivist.

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Eark-Kind techniques enhance enjoyment, protect environment

One of the best methods of growing healthy plants and conserving water at the same time is to use mulch in the landscape. Experienced gardeners have long known the secret of mulching the garden and all its benefits.

What is mulch? Mulch is simply a protective ground covering that saves water, reduces evaporation, prevents erosion, controls weeds, and in the case of organic mulches, enriches the soil.

Compost is a mixture of decayed organic matter used as fertilizer and used to improve soil conditions. Compost can increase water and nutrient holding capacity in sandy soils, increase aeration, increase internal drainage of clay soils and increase microorganisms beneficial to the soil.

Each year, nearly millions of tons of leaves, grass clippings, tree limbs, weeds, organic debris and other yard wastes end up in Texas landfills. Composting is an important Earth-Kind practice that can help address this critical issue. One advantage of adding compost is that nutrients are released over a long period of time in the soil. Disadvantages are the costs of transporting and applying the compost as well as finding large quantities to improve large areas for commercial gardens.

Some make their own compost. Others purchase it from municipalities or private companies specializing in making large quantities of compost material.

Initial applications will depend on the compost and the soil type. In very sandy soils, more compost material may be needed per acre. The best way to know how much to use is to test the compost on a small plot with your crop, soil and growing conditions. Compost, like soil, can be analyzed at a reliable independent or university laboratory.

Other practices to aid in an Earth-Kind landscape is rainwater harvesting, low-volume irrigation systems and to perform irrigation audit. These practices reduce water usage, saving money while ensuring conservation of a precious natural resource.

Finally, use proper landscape design, selecting the ideal plants adapted for the right areas of your landscape. These plants are oftentimes proven plants that are adapted to the environmental conditions in an area already. There are no hard and fast rules, since conditions vary from location to location, but by following some basic Earth-Kind principles, your chances for success will be greatly increased.


Educational programs of the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status. The Texas AM University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.

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Sharing a greenhouse dream: Gardening authority Tom Kasper and his son buy Burchfiel’s

He even specialized in greenhouse management.

After graduation, he worked at the university’s greenhouse in Fargo. He was the city of Duluth’s head gardener for years and was manager of Engwall’s garden centers for a time. For the last couple of years, he has operated his own lawn and landscape business.

As the longtime president of the Duluth Garden Flower Society and featured expert on WDSE-TV’s “Great Gardening” program for 14 seasons, Kasper has become a local authority on gardening.

But that dream of having his own greenhouse eluded him.

Until now.

Kasper and his 23-year-old son Michael recently purchased Burchfiel’s Greenhouses, near Lismore and Cant roads in Normanna Township, about 12 miles northeast of Duluth. Operated by Rosie Burchfiel for 16 years, Burchfiel’s was a go-to place for quality annuals and beautiful hanging baskets for many people.

“We’ve been looking around for an opportunity for some time,” Kasper said.

On Friday, the greenhouse re-opened as Burchfiels-

Bending Birches Greenhouses. But next year they’ll probably drop Burchfiels from the name and go forward as Bending Birches Greenhouses, a name inspired by the Robert Frost poem “Birches.”

“It’s pretty emotional,” Kasper said of the opening. “It’s a dream come true for me to do this and to share my dream with my children.”

Besides his son Michael, Kasper’s other son, 20-year-old Mitchell, also will work at the greenhouse.

A green approach

The Kaspers’ plans for the business will be a new green approach in the Twin Ports area. With the help of greenhouse manager Jahn Hibbs, they will take an environmentally sustainable approach by selling annuals, vegetables, herbs, perennials, shrubs and fruit trees that are suitable for the region.

“Our plan is to be organic and pesticide-free and to do a lot along those lines to give people that choice in what plants they buy,” Tom Kasper said.

The purchase of the greenhouse business on 13 acres was in the works for a few months before closing in early May.

That was too late to grow their own plants, so this year’s offerings, which also include hanging baskets, shrubs and fruit trees, are from regional vendors. Hibbs, however, grew half of their vegetable plants organically from seed at her Duluth home.

Prices will vary, but include $3 for a four-pack of bedding plants to $35 to $40 for hanging baskets. More elaborate baskets can be custom-made for more.

Starting next year, they plan to grow their own plants chemically-free and open earlier in the season.

The Kaspers’ green approach was welcome news to Edith Peterson, who operated Peterson’s Gardens and Landscaping in rural Superior for years before she and her husband closed the business in 2013 and retired.

“I’m thrilled with that because there isn’t a greenhouse in the region that grows without using chemicals,” she said. “And the chemicals they use are very hard on the bees. And we’re all concerned about the bees and butterflies.”

Insecticides like neonicotinoids don’t just wash away in the rain. They get into the plants and into the soil and harm beneficial insects such as bees, she noted. The chemical, called neonics for short, has been linked to the collapse of honeybee colonies.

“So if Tom does go into growing plants without neonics, it will have a big impact on clients,” Peterson said. “More and more people are concerned about the environment.”

Neonics won’t get anywhere near his plants, Kasper confirmed.

More than a greenhouse

Kasper’s goal is to become a destination greenhouse and a recognized source of gardening information. He also plans to hold gardening-related classes, possibly starting in July. He and his son will continue their lawn and landscaping business, which will be based at the greenhouse. But the elder Kasper will be at the greenhouse on weekends to answer questions and help out.

For Hibbs, who was the executive director of the Duluth Community Garden Program, becoming part of the new venture was a chance to get her hands dirty again.

“I wanted to get out in the field again,” she said. “I was passionate about the (community garden) program, but my job was mostly administrative. I love growing things. And all the things I loved about that job I can do right here.”

They have more plans for Bending Birches Greenhouses than retail sales.

Ambitious plans.

Kasper pointed to a 3-acre field adjacent to the greenhouses, surrounded by a 10-foot tall fence that keeps the deer out. Rosie Burchfiel had used it for a corn maze in recent years.

But Kasper wants to grow organic vegetables and fruits there for restaurants, which is in growing demand. To extend the growing season, they plan to put a ground bed in one of their four greenhouses that will extend the growing season for the produce.

Such a companion mini-farm is new for a retail greenhouse in the region, Kasper said.

Keeping a tradition alive

The re-opening of Burchfiel’s comes as several family-owned greenhouses in the area have closed, including Edelweiss Nursery in Lakewood Township and Peterson’s Gardens and Landscaping in rural Superior.

“It’s hard to sell a greenhouse,” Kasper said. “They’re a lot of work, and they take expertise, and then there’s the competition.”

Sometimes they’re put up for sale with no takers. Sometimes the owners retire with no one to carry on the business. Sometimes the growing competition from big box stores is too much.

“The local connection for greenhouses is going,” Kasper said. “But I think people still want that experience of going to a greenhouse and walking down the aisles of plants. I want people to experience a greenhouse.”

Peterson is supportive.

“He certainly has the background for it and the experience,” she said. “I’m really happy for them. I think it’s a good move for him, and I think he’ll have a good following.”

Burchfiels-Bending Birches Greenhouses

Burchfiels-Bending Birches Greenhouses, 5996 Cant Road, about 12 miles northeast of Duluth, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. It will close for the season sometime in July.

To get there from Duluth, take Minnesota Highway 61 north, turn left on Lakewood Road, right on Lismore Road, and then left on Cant Road. It’s one-half mile down Cant Road on the right.

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Gardening calendar: Trees to dirt tips to plant sales for long weekend gardening

Annual Plant Sale at the Rothwell United Church, perennials, herbs, annuals, houseplants and more, May 21, 8 to 11 a.m., 42 Sumac Rd., Gloucester.

All the Dirt container gardening, tips on creating dazzling containers, best plants and soil information, with Catherine Disley Engler, May 17 from 7 to 9 p.m., Bldg. 72 CEF Arboretum, east exit off Prince of Wales roundabout. Cost: $12-$15.

Pakenham Horticultural Club Spring Flower Show and meeting, with plant explorer Brian Carson, who will present “The Beauties of The Burnt Lands, exploring the special biological environment of Almonte and its many unique plant species.  May 18, 7 p.m., St. Andrews United Church, 2585 County Rd 29, Pakenham.

Gardener and author and Citizen columnist Mark Cullen will discuss and show images from his new book, The Canadian Garden, at a luncheon at Titles@Table40, May 18, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Fraser Cafe’s Table 40. Cost: $29, includes three-course meal. Reservations at Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Ave. Info: 613-742-5030


Nepean Horticultural Society annual plant auction and sale, May 19, 6:30 p.m., City View United Church, 6 Epworth Ave. All welcome, cash only. Free admission. Info: 613-721-2048.

23rd Annual perennial exchange, bring your extra plants, seeds and ideas to exchange, May 19, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Ave.

Art for the gardeners from the Nepean Fine Art League ART Sale, art suitable for your garden or home from 40 artists, May 20, 6 to 9 p.m. and May 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ukrainian Banquet Hall, 1000 Byron Ave. . Free admission and parking.   819-568-1160

Pakenham Horticultural Club plant sale, May 21, 8 to 11 a.m., parking lot beside the Five Span Bridge near Pakenham Feed and Seed. Info: 613 624-5307.

Kanata-March Horticultural Society’s 44th Annual Plant Sale, featuring perennials, houseplants, edibles, and heirloom tomato plants, May 21, 8 a.m. to noon, St. Isidore’s Church, 1135 March Rd.  

Plant sale in support of Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue, also featuring baked goods and crafts, May 21, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Merivale Mall parking lot, 1642 Merivale Rd.

East End Plant Sale, seedlings, perennials and shrubs, May 21, 9 a.m., North Gloucester Public Library, 2036 Ogilvie Rd., annual fund raiser for the Gloucester Horticultural Society. Free admission and parking.

Birds and the Urban Forest: the roles trees play in the environment, May 22, 2 p.m., Bldg. 72 CEF Arboretum, east exit off Prince of Wales roundabout. Cost: Free, but register.

Ottawa Horticultural Society’s annual plant auction and sale, May 24, 7:30 p.m., Tom Brown Arena, 141 Bayview Rd. Info: 

Greely Gardeners Group plant sale, May 28, 9 to 11 a.m., Andrew Shields Park, 1455 Old Prescott Rd.

Manotick Horticulture society plant sale, locally-grown perennials, annuals, herbs, vegetables seedlings, shrubs and gardening advice and accessories, May 28, 9 a.m. to noon, Watson’s Mill, Manotick. Info: 613-715-2493

Lilac Walk guided tour, May 28, 2 p.m., Bldg. 72 CEF Arboretum, east exit off Prince of Wales roundabout. Cost: Free, but register at

Fletcher Wildlife Garden map

Fletcher Wildlife Garden map

Fletcher Wildlife Garden

Native plant Sale at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, sale of native plants from harvested seeds, including pollinators and butterfly-friendly plants, June 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Prince of Wales Drive, south of the Arboretum.

Hardy roses for the Ottawa climate, with Mark Dallas of Galetta Rose Nurseries, hosted by the Kanata-March Horticultural Society, June 7, 7:30 p.m., Old Town Hall, 821 March Rd. $5 for non-members. 

Preston lilac tour, a guided tour of the Isabel Preston Lilac Collection a the Central Experimental Farm, June 11, 2 p.m., Friends shed at the ornamental gardens. Cost: free, but register.

Peony tours, get tips on what would work best in your garden and how to keep your happy, June 11 from 9 a.m. to noon, Central Experimental farm peony beds. Cost: free., but register.

The 8th annual water garden tour, a self-guided tour of 10 water gardens in and around Ottawa, including some to be featured at night: June 25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day pond; 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. night pond, hosted by the Greater Ottawa Water Garden and Horticultural Society. Cost: $20, free for children 12 years and under. All welcome, with proceeds to a water feature at the Ruddy-Shenkman Hospice in Kanata.

How trees get started, and how to start new trees, from seeds, cuttings and grafts, with Robert Glendenning and Eric Jones, June 26, 2 p.m., Bldg 72 in the Arboretum. Cost: Free, but register.

Free gardening advice from the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton: Telephone helpline: 613-236-0034, Wednesdays and Thursdays (1 to 3 p.m.), all year, email helpline: Monitored daily.

National Garden Days are looking for local participants to share or organize activities for your garden, garden centre or in the community over three days on the Father’s Day weekend, June 17 to 19. Register your activity at

Submit your gardening event to by 8 a.m. Monday morning, two weeks before the event. 

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Victoria Day weekend: gardening tips for Montrealers

Spring has finally arrived in Montreal just in time for the long Victoria Day weekend and for gardeners across the city.

Teresa Amorosa, the manager of the West Island Nursery, has tips for all Montrealers planning on adding vegetables and plants to their garden.

“The better your vegetables are nourished and treated, the better you will harvest in the fall,” Amorosa said.

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind if you are headed out to your rooftop terrace, backyard oasis or community garden this weekend.

Choose quality soil 


Good soil helps nourish plants and vegetables. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Gardeners should opt for the best soil and this is especially true for vegetable gardens, Amorosa said.

If you have the choice between regular black soil and triple mix soil, it’s best to choose the latter. 

“I always prefer the triple mix because it’s more balanced,” Amorosa said. “Everything is about balance.”

She also recommends mixing it with compost for a healthy garden.

Plan ahead 

Gardening Planting Trees

Know the perimeter of your garden before you purchase seeds and vegetables. (The Associated Press)

Most gardeners are ambitious but it’s best to take space, time and budget into account.

“It’s overwhelming,” Amorosa said. “People come in and they want to do everything.”

Amorosa suggests that all gardeners measure how much room they have for their gardens. She recommends taking time to consider what fits.

Don’t forget to use water, carefully

Grey water drought

Water is key to keeping vegetables growing and flowers blooming. (Getty Images)

It may seem like a simple tip, but a little bit of water goes a long way for any kind of garden.

“It’s so important to water the base of your vegetables and not the leaves with a sprinkler,” Amorosa said.

“Too much moisture on the leaves causes fungal problems and we don’t want that.”

Take good care of your stock 

planting season

It’s a beautiful weekend to get out there and garden. (CBC)

One of the easiest ways to ensure a happy, healthy garden is to use fertilizer.

“We like to use natural fertilizers as well as a chemical but we amend it continuously with the natural,” Amorosa said.

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