May 15, 2013
Come grow with us
The London Middlesex Master Gardeners’ community service project ‘From Seeds to Your Table’ received the Landscape Ontario Award, presented by LO’s public relations director Denis Flanagan.
Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations

Denis FlanaganCome grow with us was the theme of the first National Canadian Master Gardeners Conference, held from Apr. 5 to 7 at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. This major garden event was attended by over 250 delegates from across Ontario and some members from Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Michigan.

The opening speaker on the Friday evening was the ever-energetic Paul Zammit from Toronto Botanical Garden. He delivered a presentation that challenged gardeners to rethink how they garden. This gave rise to many points of discussion throughout the weekend.

Professor Spencer C. H. Barrett from the University of Toronto gave the keynote session on Saturday with a fascinating insight into the botanical research carried out by Charles Darwin.

Professor Barrett focused on experiments he conducted on plant reproduction and pollination. He was inspired to head-up his own studies on the complex sex lives of plants. As a consequence, his team has provided valuable information to the plant breeding and biotechnology industries. Professor Barrett also wowed the audience with stunning photos of plants taken on his trips that followed in the footsteps of Darwin to South America and Africa.

Bio-diversity was often referenced during the weekend, but I also thought that the diversity of gardeners was evident with breakout sessions offered in one room by Dr. Michael Brownridge from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre on the latest research into lawn care, while in another room a presentation, entitled ‘What Are Lawns Good For: It’s Time to Stop the Madness,’ was led by Dianne and Gary Westlake from Peterborough.

The best part of it all was that afterwards all parties were able to sit and enjoy a tasty green salad, and agree that what makes the world of gardening so appealing is that there are many opinions and styles of gardens. At the end of the day, it’s each individual homeowner’s decision on which direction to choose.

As part of the breakout sessions, I represented members of Landscape Ontario with an update on greenroofs and bio-walls with information compiled by Kim Burton from Landscape Trades magazine, statistics from Steven Peck from the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and on projects created at Canada Blooms by Janet Ennamorato of Creative Garden Designs and Jason Rokosh of Vertical Landscape Architects.

Saturday sessions concluded with an informative and fun presentation by Martin Galloway from Chalk Lake Greenhouses on finding a balance with nature. This was followed by the first-ever Master Gardeners Awards of Excellence ceremony.

Jane Beck, president of Master Gardeners of Ontario, said, “The Awards of Excellence were a highlight of the conference; I congratulate each and every group for the projects you have submitted.” The Ontario president continued, “Master Gardeners and our communities are the focus of all we do — your projects remind us of just how much does happen across the province. Your work stands as the model of who we are and what we do.”

The winners and categories are as follows:
  • Etobicoke Master Gardeners for the Target Audience project, ‘Connecting People with Plants.’ The award was donated by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.
  • Thunder Bay Master Gardeners for the Innovative project ‘Insects and Diseases of Thunder Bay District.’ The award was donated by the Canadian Nursery and Landscape Association.
  • Toronto Master Gardeners for the Workshops and Presentations category, its webinar presentation project, ‘Getting your Community Garden Project off the Ground.’ It was awarded by Liz Klose, Honorary Master Gardener and director of Memorial University’s Botanical Garden.
  • London Middlesex Master Gardeners for the Community Service project, ‘From Seeds to Your Table.’ It was donated by Landscape Ontario.
The conference was a resounding success and I am sure the partnership between Landscape Ontario and Master Gardeners will continue to grow and flourish in the future.
Denis Flanagan may be contacted at