MGOI News Blog
RBG's Rock Garden is a Sunken Treasure
Back in the 1920s civic visionary Thomas Baker McQuesten had a big idea. He wanted to create a large-scale civic garden that would put Hamilton, Ontario on the botanical map. In 1927, the Hamilton Board of Parks Management – chaired by McQuesten – purchased just over 375 acres of land, marking the beginning of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
See full posting here
Mosaicultures Internationales Montreal 2013
Chameleon With a Closeup
The largest exhibition of horticultural art in the world, staged every three years in a city selected by an international committee, this year's theme was Land of Hope, which aimed to illustrate the beauty and fragility of life on earth. This year the Montreal Botanical Garden hosted and what a perfect venue it was!
This is when the word awesome is appropriate to use in discussion. My friend and I stopped so many times just to slowly take in all the aspects of these sculptures. Many of them like The Man Who Planted Trees was large, encompassing running horses, a herd of sheep, a huge sheep dog and an enormous man kneeling in the act of planting a tree. They weren't all of this magnitude, a little scaled down were playful pandas or a lone chameleon on a branch embossed with Echeveria secunda 'Glauca' or 'Vert'.
The 3D structures were designed on paper and then realized using steel. The sculptor-artist-welders formed superb metalwork, checked by structural engineers to make sure the frames would be strong enough to hold the horticultural materials assembled by a crew specifically assigned to the design. Then there is the upkeep by maintenance people who work seven days a week shaping and watering each structure. Teams would work together, manicuring their display and then keeping each other in the know as to what needs to be done the next day. The bottom line I was told by a one of the gardeners is "to find the areas that require cleaning up and trimming before the visitor sees it."
Many of the plants used were different types of Alternanthera dentata like 'Purple Knight', 'Fine true Yellow', and 'Christmas tree'. Santolinas, Echeveria rosettes, sedums of all kinds and grasses like 'Black Mundo' to name of few. Close to three million plants were used and they were chosen for their uniformity, texture, ability to tolerate the unique growing conditions, to be trimmed regularly for a bushier look and, most importantly, disease and pest free. I have a new respect for ground coverings.
Most importantly the pieces made you stop and receive their messages that were so carefully thought out by the designers – from The Woman Who Loved Cranes, based on a true story from China, to the Tree of Birds, with each branch supporting an endangered bird. The tree symbolizes all the biodiversity that surrounds us and how fragile it is. This reminds us that we are not more important than anything else in nature and that we should be modest and mindful of our existence within it.
Here is a link to the mosaiculture site. and a link to a number of photos of Mosaiculture Montreal 2013
MG Tena van Andel: What I learned at IMGC 2013
With giddy anticipation and five bottles of local Seattle wine, fellow Toronto Master Gardener, Elizabeth A. Stewart, 998 other Master Gardeners and I walked the gangplank of the Westerdam ready to experience an International Master Gardener conference at sea. Lesson one: don’t call it a ‘gangplank’, it’s a ‘gangway’ and don’t spell Westerdam with a ‘n’. This will make the crew frown.
For we 16 Canadian delegates, the cruise started on high seas. We were very loud and proud when it was announced at the Search for Excellence Awards that our very own Thunder Bay MGs had won! Their very fine work on coping without pesticides caused a collective gasp from the American audience - gardening without pesticides, no way! Lesson two: although some US MGs and some of the speakers decried the use of pesticides it is still a prevalent practice that will not go away anyway soon. We who have been gardening without pesticides for years now were shocked, smug and then sad.
The conference was a veritable buffet of breakout sessions and keynote addresses. And, believe you me, by the end of the cruise, I gained much at the buffets! About ten pounds, in fact. Lesson three: not everything at a buffet is worth the calories. About half of my eight breakout sessions were very informative – how to use QR codes in garden education, plant diagnostics, MGs and plant phenology programs and an objective update on GMOs. Did you know there is a genetically modified tobacco seed that can detect land mines? Yup, when the plant grows over a land mine, it turns a rusty red colour. My other breakouts were not so filling. One speaker actually told us what a perennial is - you know, ‘those plants that come back every year’. Should-a spent that session in the Crow’s Nest Bar partaking of the drink of the day (mmmm, strawberry basil bellinis)
It was very interesting how different the American MG system is as compared to ours. Paid University Extension staff manages most of the groups in the States. Groups may not be funded, but they enjoy the free resources of university scientists, communication departments, state administrators, inexpensive training and special MG liaisons. We by contrast are totally self-governing. Lesson four: we should be so proud of what we accomplish as highly motivated, dedicated VOLUNTEERS.
The cruise was wonderful. We had amazingly sunny weather, saw lots of whales, sea otters, lions and bald eagles. We visited Juneau, the Glacier Gardens with the upside down trees, Sitka, Ketchikan and Butchart Gardens in Victoria. Just lovely. However, I’m not sure a cruise ship is the best place for a conference. They did not have the facilities to host all the sessions they offered. We had breakouts in the piano bar and in a dark, ‘make out’ lounge - terrible locations for both speakers and the audience. Even the best rooms suffered during our day of rough seas with seasick speakers and jiggling projectors. Lesson five: folks who say these cruise ships are so big you never feel them move and have all sorts of stabilizers so you never feel the waves, LIED.
Of course, the best part of the conference, of any conference, is the gardeners you meet. We met kindred spirits from all over the USA - Florida, California, Arkansas, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and even a delegation from Korea. BTW you are all invited to the Korean MG conference next spring. Lesson six: conferences are the best opportunity to be inspired by other Master Gardeners and to make them friends. Even with the glaring difference in pesticide policy, we had lots to talk about, lots to learn and lots to look forward to when we meet again at the next International Conference organized by Iowa and Nebraska in 2015. By then I hope to have lost the souvenir ten pounds!