View this email in your browser

Gardeners' Corner at the

Calgary Horticultural Society

Creating Resiliency in the Garden—Reprised
Last Thursday's (February 6) Member Talk was a sell-out event. Over 130 people signed the attendance sheet. That was a recent-history record-breaking crowd. We ran out of chairs and, unfortunately, had to turn guests away as the room was at capacity. Here are some highlights from Elaine Rude's presentation.

She took us on a journey back in time, reviewing how gardens have evolved. Early on, people foraged for food. As societies evolved, walled gardens were built to provide food close-at-hand in a safe environment. Wealthy people owned the gardens and labourers worked in the gardens. The workers may have had small gardens outside the walls for their own use. Persian gardens were places of serenity and separated people from the harsh environments outside of the garden. The Baroque period brought "Pleasure Gardens"—formal gardens with broad avenues for looks and occasionally for strolling. They also provided a safe environment, separating people from the "wild" world. As people travelled, they began collecting plants and used them to create botanical gardens. Today, as in the past, people use gardens to connect with nature, to relax and have opportunities for solitude—building a personal resiliency in the garden. 
Garden Resiliency
Building plant resiliency in the garden requires paying attention to the local environment and plants. In a healthy environment, plants live in a diverse community, each filling a specific niche and purpose. Each season, the composition of plants visible in the community may change. The plants usually keep each other in check, preventing one or another from taking over the community. Yarrow is a good example. In a nature meadow, there is never only yarrow. However, if we do not build a similar plant community in our garden, yarrow will over-run all the other plants. Gardens should have a blend of perennial plants (herbaceous and woody), as well as annuals. An often neglected feature is the ground cover. We frequently use a mulch material as a ground cover, but we really should look for suitable ground cover plants. Annual ground covers protect the soil from erosion and add nutrients (if allowed to decay in place) at the end of their life cycle. Usually, ground cover plants have gaps that permit inter-planting with other plants for vertical interest and plant community development. Plants with varying heights often have differing rooting depths, which allow them to create compatible communities as they work together instead of directly competing for resources.
Start with a Theme
When planning your resilient garden, start with a theme (for example woodland or prairie), Then choose plants that belong to that community. Pay attention to the edges. Plant communities are most diverse in transition zones, such as along a path. The tallest plants are typically in the middle of the bed.
It is important to work with the soil you have. Left minimally disturbed, the microbes and organisms in the soil work at improving soil texture over time by breaking down organic amendments and bringing nutrients to plant roots. Most perennial plants do not require a lot of nutrition, so adding compost is usually all that is required. If you can, let the plant material lay where it falls each autumn. It may require tidying in the spring as we don't have fires to clear the debris away. In nature, the plant community is self-fertilizing.

Plan your garden with a plant community in mind and build resiliency for yourself and your garden.
Inspirational Resources
If you're looking for inspiration, review Thomas Rainer's book, Planting in a Post Wild World or website The process of using plant communities to regenerate the environment and make self-sustaining gardens is captured in the Duisburg-Nord Landschaftspark in Germany. The park is a reclaimed industrial site—a project which converted a landscape blight into a garden resource. Visit their website ( or watch this YouTube video to learn more. 
The sidebar photos. Top to bottom: Member Talk (Deborah Maier), Baroque garden, formal walled garden (Pixabay); Plant communities working together, varying plant heights in a plant community; herbaceous ground cover (Pixabay); Woodland and prairie theme images (Pixabay). The rose in banner at the top of the page was taken in a Calgary garden—Happy Valentine's Day!
Community Gardeners—It's that time of year!
Community Gardens have been sending out notices recruiting gardeners to sign up for plots. If you're looking for a Community Garden, check out the Society's "Find a Community Garden" directory on our website under Resources.

If you lead a Community Garden, please review your listing. If you require an update, use this Community Garden directory survey link so we can update your profile. Happy gardening!

April 25 and 26 | Max Bell Centre
Save the Date!

Buy Tickets!
Advance tickets are now available online.
Select Garden Show Tickets on our homepage to access the ticket information.
Prices remain the same as last year.
Members Advance $10
Non-member Advance $12

Note: online tickets are subject to a service fee.
Calling Exhibitors and Sponsors!
Businesses and organizations that have participated at the Garden Show in recent years will be sent a package inviting them to attend again. If you're interested in having a trade show booth and have not received a package, please contact Nisha at

We have some new businesses joining us at the Show. We're excited about our newcomers and the new offerings by some long-standing Show supporters. Do you know a business that would be of interest to gardeners?  Is there a workshop you'd like to participate in? Send Nisha an email ( and let us know! Check out the Exhibitors list under Garden Show 2020 on the website to see who's booked to come.
Calgary Gardening Magazine
As the sun moves higher in the sky, more sunlight enters our homes. This additional light triggers growth in our house plants, making it a good time to give them a little additional care. If you have Tillandsia (perhaps you participated in the Society's air plant wreath workshop last February), read Corinne Hannah's Zoo Nooz: Tillandsia article for how to give these plants a little TLC. Log in to the Members Only section of the website, select Calgary Gardening to access the current issue (February/March) of the magazine and read the article.
New Year, New Programs! The 2020 Program Calendar is Ready!
See | What's Happening for program details.
Don't miss out on the popular programs. Sign up today! Online registration is always open.
Getting Started with Roses
Tuesday, February 25, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Society Office, 208 50 Avenue SW
Speakers: Joan Altenhof and Jenny Hart from the Calgary Rose Society
Cost: $25 members, $35 non-members
Register online

Would you love to grow roses but don't know where to start?
Maybe you have inherited roses but aren't sure how to care for them?

Then this talk is for you!  Topics will include:
  • What are hardy roses?  What are tender roses?
  • Choosing roses, both hardy and tender
  • Planting roses, including location and soil preparation
  • Providing rose care over the summer
  • Pruning hardy roses and tender roses
  • Giving roses winter protection
Registration for this course closes on Wednesday, February 19.
Seed Starting
Saturday, February 29, 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Garden Retreat, 6510 1A Street SW
Instructor: Joanne Ogilvie
Cost: $40 members, $50 non-members
Register online

Get a jump on the growing season! Starting your plants from seed can be less expensive than buying transplants and can also give you a much broader choice of interesting varieties!

We will discuss seed choice, start times and growing methods, including windowsill and grow-light gardening. Whether you are interested in annuals, perennials, herbs or edibles, this hands-on workshop will give you the information you need to go from starting a seed to planting the seedling in the ground. Learn the proper care and handling of a variety of young seedlings and practice transplanting to promote the sturdiest and healthiest results! Seeds and materials will be provided but feel free to bring your own selection of seeds to plant. 

Registration for this course closes on Monday, February 24.

Grow Your Own Food

Wednesdays, March 4, 11, 18 and 25
6:30 to 9:00 pm

CKE Community Centre, 1015 73 Avenue SW
Instructor: Kath Smyth
Cost: $140 members, $185 non-members
Register online

It's healthy, smart, cool and best of all—you're in control. Discover and take advantage of your above-ground growing spaces to create efficient and healthy sources of fresh food.
Using advanced raised-vegetable-gardening techniques, discover that food gardens are not only sensible options in today's world, but also attractive garden accents

Topics covered include:
  • soil health
  • planting techniques
  • crop rotation
  • high-value crops
  • container growing
  • space maximization
  • season extension
This course uses a variety of approaches to learning: lectures, learning activities, readings, exercises and class discussion. Participants are expected to actively engage in learning and are encouraged to share experiences and ideas that promote discussion and understanding of course concepts.
Registration for this course closes on Wednesday, February 26.
Design Your Yard
Back by popular demand—the Design Your Yard workshops! Not sure what to do with your new yard? Need to reimagine your mature yard? Learn how to create a well-thought-out, functional yard in this multi-day workshop.  Homeowners will work on scale layouts of their own properties and complete step-by-step tasks to create a design that meets their needs.

Two people residing at the same address may attend this workshop at no additional charge, with the requirement that they work on ONE yard plan together. Names of both participants must be provided at the time of registration.

Participants will learn how to:
  • work through the process to develop a yard design
  • apply basic design principles and techniques for creating a beautiful, environmentally responsible, functional yard
  • calculate volumes of soil and mulch and access available resources in the community (such as free compost from the City)
  • irrigate their yard
  • select plants at a garden centre to fulfill their design's requirements 

Participants will need:
  • property dimensions - Real Property Report (RPR)
  • graph paper, ruler, pencil and eraser
  • wish list requirements
  • photos from your wish list

This workshop is sponsored by the
City of Calgary

Cost: $75 members, $100 non-members

Saturdays, February 29, March 7 and 14 from 9:30 am to noon
Evergreen Community SPACES - Pine Studio
(Mayland Heights)
1709 8 Ave NE
Register Online

This is one of several Design Your Yard workshops being planned this year. Other locations where we anticipate workshops include: Crestmont, Cranston, New Brighton, Livingston, Pine Ridge and Scenic Acres.
We will provide further information as it becomes available.
Calgary Home + Garden Show—February 27 until March 1
Visit us at the Calgary Home + Garden Show booth 540. Our theme at the booth is Gardening Tools and Templates. If you go, you'll have an opportunity to enter to win two tickets to the Society's Garden Show on April 25 and 26.  

Use the picture button to purchase tickets online and save $2. Be sure to use promotion code GROW for additional savings!
Join the Show!
Be part of the Garden Show team!
The Society's 2020 Garden Show is on April 25 and 26, at the Max Bell Centre. We are building on last year's experience to enhance the show and the planning has begun! If you're interested in being part of the Garden Show team, contact Norm at or call 403.287.3469 ext. 1. Save the date and plan to attend.

Volunteer with us in 2020!

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with the Society and help grow our gardening community. Contact the Society's Volunteer Coordinator, Norm Cook, at 403.287.3469 ext. 1 or email if you would like to volunteer for a Society event, talk, class or course. All Society classes have volunteer monitors who help with set up, introduce the instructor and assist class participants. We're preparing for events such as:
  • Calgary Home + Garden Show
  • Seedy Saturday
  • Aggie Days
  • Casino
  • Garden Show 
  • Open Gardens
  • Community Outreach
  • Workshops, talks and courses
These events are successful because our volunteer community helps out—Come Grow with Us!  Visit Get Involved/Volunteer on the website for more information about volunteering.
Specific Help Request—Aggie Days
Program Assistants
  • April 1 to 3 from 9:15 am until 2:30 pm to help at the school program
  • April 4 and 5 from 9:45 am until 1:00 pm or from 1:00 pm until 4:15 pm to help at the family weekend program 

Specific Help Request—Casino Volunteers
Elbow River Casino, April 20 and 21
  • Evening shifts: 7:00 pm to 3:30 am
  • Count Room: 11:00 pm to 3:30 am
Contact the Society's Volunteer Coordinator, Norm Cook, at 403.287.3469 ext. 1 or email if you are able to fill one of these volunteer requests.
Photo Editor Needed
The editing team is looking to fill a new volunteer role. We need someone to search approved online image sources and the Society’s digital library for appropriate photos for the magazine, and write captions for them. If you are comfortable using simple image editing tools to resize photos, have an eye for detail, and can dedicate 7-10 hours per month, we’d like to hear from you. Contact Julie at You can work from home.
Director/Board Secretary
The Calgary Horticultural Society Board of Directors is seeking to fill the position of Director/Board Secretary. This volunteer role requires a minimum two-year term commitment as well as availability for approximately ten hours per month to attend Board and Committee meetings and attend Society events. Applicants must have previous experience in an administrative role, be familiar with word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Though gardening expertise is not a must, support for our mission and organizational goals are key.

To learn more about the Board of Directors and how to apply, visit Involved/Volunteer. Scroll down the page to the Society Board of Directors section/Board Opportunities link.
Be an Open Gardens Host
Open Gardens will be here soon. The dates are May 24, June 7, July 5, July 19, August 9 and September 13. Gardens on the tour need to be interesting, but perfection is not required. We welcome all types of gardens: food, xeriscape, low or high maintenance, half a duplex or acreage, showcase or a work-in-progress. Your garden and story should captivate the visitor for at least a 15-minute visit. If you're interested in being a host, visit What's Happening/Open Gardens on our website for details. Fill in the Submit an Open Garden form and one of our volunteer Open Gardens coordinators will contact you. If you're unsure if your garden is ready to be a garden on the tour, then note that in the form and a team member can help you decide.
Support the Society

Membership—a Gift that Blooms Year-round
It's a gift that gives throughout the year—free Member Talks, garden centre and workshop discounts, online resources, e-news, e-magazines and Open Gardens tours. Gift memberships may be purchased online—visit Membership/Join the Society and scroll to the bottom of the page. Or, come to the office (208 50 Avenue SW) to purchase the gift membership and you can take the membership card home.

New Year—Start a Plan with a Garden Journal

Stop by the Society office to purchase your copy ($20) of The Growing Journal. The Society's journal is a terrific tool to help keep track of your plans and the activity in the garden. The pages are not dated, so you can journal at your own pace, without the stress of finishing an annual diary. It's a great gift for a gardener on any occasion. Purchase this gardening resource and support the Society.

Help Us Grow!

The Calgary Horticultural Society is a registered charity dedicated to cultivating Calgary’s gardening community. Your support helps us continue our mission to enrich the lives of Calgarians by supporting gardening and the enhancement of the environment through our programs of talks, workshops and courses. Donations enable the Society to engage Calgarians in Gardening for Life—every donation is appreciated. Thank you for supporting the Calgary Horticultural Society. Donate online.

If you prefer, you are welcome to drop by the office (208 50 Avenue SW) to make a donation or call us at 403.287.3469 and we will be happy to assist you.

Spread the word! 
Invite your friends to subscribe to this e-news. Forward this email and ask your friends to subscribe by clicking this JOIN link. 
Thanks—come grow with us!
Do you have a gardening question? Did you find a great source for unique seeds you'd like to share? Log in to the Members' Forum, choose a topic and let other members know. We look forward to hearing from you!
Copyright Calgary Horticultural Society | 2020 | All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
208 50 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2S 2S1

Phone: 403.287.3469

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can 
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.