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Our new stonework at the museum completed September 2022

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Fall Cleanup of Gardens
Gift presentation to gardeners for all they do!

Gardeners receiving Garden Map 2021 tea towels
Gardeners receive gift 2021
Gardeners Fall 2021

Some of the members of the Fenelon Falls Horticulture Society gathered before going to the Grove's Theatre Sunday August 29th 2021

Anna Telford we thank you for all you did this summer!

Thank you! to the volunteers who replanted the Jubilee garden!

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Come join us in our Monday and Thursday morning garden weeding parties!

The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society were very lucky this year to have Anna Telford as their Student Garden Assistant.  Anna worked daily with other Horticultural members keeping things growing and blooming around town. Along with many other tasks Anna also helped pick and package the fresh produce weekly from the Victory Garden for our local food bank.   Thank you Anna,  it was a pleasure to have you as part of the 2021 Horticultural gardening team!  

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Enjoy the beautiful virtual tours below!

Your Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society

January/February Newsletter . . .

Hello Members! What an incredible Winter we have had so far - hardly any snow to shovel, but just enough to enjoy "Winter"! And the temperatures have been generally great! The lake ice is thick now and we can snowshoe, snow machine, crosscountry ski or just walk there as well as on the numerous trails in town and in surrounding parks. Lucky us to live here! With the lockdown, people are in different situations; some of you may have been able to accomplish some jobs (or crafts) around the house, while others have been too busy working and supervising virtual learning to have time for leisure. All of us do have a common bond though and that is a love of "Gardening" and we hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this trying time. The executive has still been having meetings (thank you to Zoom!) to handle business that comes up despite Covid-19, and hopefully this Newsletter will fill you in on some of the things we have to share:

The Results of the AGM Vote

We had a great response to our AGM via email project. All motions passed, and your Board for 2021 was accepted as presented. We look forward to working together and coming up with some creative ideas for meeting the general membership this year. We were the first Society in our District to hold an AGM. Our method, while not ideal, was so well accepted that we have been asked by other Societies to pass on our process for them to follow. Now, there’s a feel good ending – Thanks to everyone who participated! 

Our Local Youth Update on Environmental Initiatives at FF High School

"Hi! My name is Anna and I am a former member of Langton's Green Team, the youth program supported by the Fenelon Falls Horticulture Society. I am very interested in saving the environment and I began taking action against climate change in primary school. I am currently a member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council, the Bringing on Biodiversity team of Fenelon Falls and the Fenelon Falls High school Eco Club. Last year, thanks to sponsorship from the Kawartha Field Naturalists, I got the chance to participate in the Virtual Youth Summit for Mother Earth organized by the Ontario Nature youth council. I was able to interact with other youth that are as passionate about saving the environment as I am. Through the summit, I became a member of both the Ontario Youth Council and of the Bringing on Biodiversity team. The Bringing on Biodiversity team aims to "preserve provincial biodiversity by inspiring citizens to accomplish a set of initiatives that promote, preserve, and maintain biodiversity in their own community". We plan to organize community events, preserve native species and educate others on the importance of their natural surroundings. Although Covid-19 is a major obstacle in planning, there are still many things we can do: for example, planting native species around Fenelon Falls, have garbage cleanups and keep up social media posts. Fenelon Falls High School has various flowerbeds and this spring the plan is to add native species to one flower bed as a first step to increasing biodiversity."

Thank you to Anna for reporting happenings at the FF High School. The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society supports the work of our Youth members and we look forward to providing them with native plants for their planting project. 

Crossword Fun from Gail!

We hope you will have some fun with this section of the Newsletter. The solutions will be in the next Newsletter so hang on to your puzzle until the next one.





                                                        Save Your Poinsettia

                                     for your

                                2021 Garden!




Keep your plants going so that you can put them outside in your garden when the soil warms up! They are lovely in the garden - - fully green (no red bracts in the Summer!), but will come back to be beautiful and red next December. In the fall, we will let you know how to care for your poinsettia so that you will have those gorgeous RED bracts in time for Christmas!

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Do you have photos, ideas or video suggestions that other online members might enjoy? If "Yes", please send them in to us!

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As you know, Kathy Armstrong was our President for 7 years! During her tenure, our club changed remarkably for the better and the relationships she formed with other businesses and people in our community have made all the difference in the progress made by our Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society! Although she has officially retired, she will be continuing to serve on the executive in the "Past President" role. As a tribute to Kathy's hard work, grace and commitment, we honour her with a beautiful garden sculpture created by Christina Hanley

                                       Thank you, Kathy...  we hope you will look back on your "President" years

                                                                       and be fondly reminded of them with Christina's art

                                                                       in your lovely gardens

                                       And, from Kathy… Thank you very much for the gorgeous metal flower made by Christina                                                    Handley. I will treasure this lovely piece of art and look forward to finding the perfect spot in the                                          garden. It is wonderful to be a part of this enthusiastic and welcoming club and I appreciate all                                            the support and friendship I received as president. I am looking forward to seeing the new                                                  developments for the club and you’ll still find me working with the gardening group tending the                                            town gardens. Best wishes to all, Kathy 




February Fun

Here we are, in the Winter Blah’s (along with all the other Blahs!). Thank goodness we have Valentine’s Day to celebrate! With that in mind, the Chamber of Commerce came up with a great ‘Heart Month’ initiative. Heart month is a month-long random acts of kindness event in which each business owner will draw another business owner's name, and during the month of February will commit three random acts of kindness for them. Names of donors must be kept secret until March 1st . We chose to participate, and four Board members have been having fun dropping off items to our designated recipients. Since it’s a secret, we can’t tell you yet who we gifted,

but will give you all the details in our next newsletter.


In closing, we want to share a link to the Old Farmer's Almanac 'Gardening for Everyone' educational series.

You can highlight the web address  below, to follow the link.

In 2020, we at The Old Farmer’s Almanac saw a huge surge in inquiries from first-time gardeners seeking articles and advice to help them get started. As we begin the 2021 gardening season, we hope that the new gardeners of 2020 will be keeping at it! Your first attempt probably left you with more questions than answers. Maybe you made a few mistakes. This is all completely normal and the natural progression of learning the art of growing. Please don’t get discouraged! To help, we’re launching a new educational series: “Gardening for Everyone”This step-by-step guide on our Web site,, can help anyone (really, anyone!) to plan, plant, grow, care for, and harvest a bountiful garden. The advice here is geared toward the new-ish gardener, but there’s plenty for folks with a few years of experience under their belts. It’s basically a master class in gardening from the experts at The Old Farmer’s Almanac!

 "Gardening for Everyone” 


Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: The basics of planting and growing a vegetable garden, including choosing a location and determining the best plot size.

10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow at Home: If your criteria for growing vegetables are “easy, cheap, and plentiful,” look here!

Gardening Tools 101: Some tools are essential; others are just nice to have. We’ll show you how to choose the right tool for any job! • Gardening for Any Space: Not a lot of space is no problem! There are myriad growing options to accommodate your needs.

Preparing Soil for Planting: Not all soil is created equal, but with a little prep, you can create a good foundation that can make all the difference!

Starting Seeds Indoors: The secret for gardeners who want to grow anything and not rely on locally available transplants!

Garden Pests and Diseases: Nothing does in a young garden (gardener!) faster than the appearance of pests and/or diseases. Find out how to deal with them.

Plant Growing Guides: What do you want to grow? You’ll find it here.

You’ll find all of this in “Gardening for Everyone” plus garden layouts, seed catalogs, planting calendars, watering charts, harvesting guides, and much more! And as if all of this great information weren’t enough, it’s all absolutely free!

                                                             We will be back with more news in March!                                                

                              In the meantime, now is the time to start planning your Spring and Summer Garden!              




Thank you from the Groves Amphitheatre 

Theatre culture meets horticulture

Theatre Updates Jan 27 Newsletter

There are so many people to thank for helping us get to where we are today, but we'd like to take this opportunity to thank on key partner in particular: the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society.

In building our venue amid a grove of trees, we felt it vital to enhance the arboreal canopy, both to maintain a sense of seclusion and to add to the natural beauty of the site.  So we asked the Horticultural Society for advice, and their response was as magnificent as it was enthusiastic.

With the help of a $15,00 grant from the Fenelon Legacy CHEST Fund contributed by the City of Kawartha Lakes, the society's team began work on landscaping the space back in October.  Using a variety of plants, shrubs, bushes and trees, they set out to bring a unique beauty to the natural vistas around the open-air performance space itself.

"We had lots of fun with the planting.  It's a great group, " says society member Kathy Armstrong.

The plants may be dormant for now, but come spring all those blooms and blossoms will burgeon forth as a lovely reward for a hard-working team.  We can't wait to see them!

Christmas Newsletter 2020

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If you walked around town anytime during the year, you would have noticed the Rain Garden improvements and the new plantings all over.

In other news, after seven years of tremendous leadership, our club's president, Kathy Armstrong, is passing the torch on to co-presidents Gail Henderson and Carol Milroy. Some changes have been made to roles on the Board, which you will hear about in more detail in January.

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Barbara Hewton and Susanne Meyer have also resigned from the Board, although Susanne has offered to continue helping Anna Croxall at the Membership table, if needed.  We thank them both for their years of service, and hope to continue seeing both once we start having general meetings again.


We are happy to add three new members to our Board of Directors; Darlene Young, Suzanne Clerk and Linda Angove. Once we are able to have in-person meetings again, everyone will be introduced (or re-introduced!) to you.


During 2021, we hope to give our club more exposure in the community through our Facebook page, our website, some Town Crier articles, Horticultural society logo signs and membership newsletters similar to this one.


Again, we wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday time, despite the lockdowns and distancing we must live with right now. Here's hoping that later in 2021 we will all be back together for some more great meetings, as we used to have in pre-Covid days!

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One last image of work that two of our members have done to beautify downtown Fenelon Falls over the Christmas and Winter season.  We are always busy!






May 2021 be a happy and healthy one for all of us ...

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NOVEMBER 2019...

Pot Luck, AGM, Christmas Carols (sort of) and Winter Arrangements

by Janet Scott   

Our centennial year ended as it began: with delicious food, friendly faces, and happy gardeners gathered to learn something new!  The season-closing pot luck dinner saw us donating food bank items and new toys to make the holidays memorable for those in our community who are in need.  We donned seasonal sweaters and colourful hats, and some of us glowed or flashed with battery-powered earrings and necklaces.  To the woman who chose a Toronto Maple Leaf's jersey as her "ugly Christmas sweater" - I note charitably that they are in only the fifty-first year of their rebuild - we must be patient, and she is forgiven! 


Our 2018 Annual General Meeting minutes were approved, and two clarifications to our Constitution were explained and accepted.  Tyson Shennett went over the 2019 balance sheet for us in a concise and efficient manner, earned a t-shirt and a mug for his efforts, and said "I will pass you back over to the more exciting stuff".

President Kathy Armstrong, who was acclaimed to what could be a record-breaking 7th term as our leader (complete executive lists for the 1930's are unavailable), summarized 2019 for us in her Year-End Report.  She spoke of our new banner and updated logo, appearances at the Santa Day parade and the Country Living Show, a pamphlet to replace our bookmarks, and work to prepare the centennial book.


The very successful Spring into Gardening plant sale, held at the Museum, and organized with great skill and attention to detail by Darlene Young and her team, raised nearly $4,000.  We opened 11 private gardens for a tour in July.  Speakers informed us about pollinators, garden design, climate change, forest gardening, native plants and lasagna gardening.  We learned what an unlimited budget and a huge piece of land can become in the hands of a world-class dreamer when we watched 'The Gardener', a film about Frank Cabot's masterpiece n Quebec.  Distinguished guests brought greetings from the federal, provincial, and municipal level to our official anniversary celebration in August, then joined us for cupcakes and ice cream. 


We hosted District Four of the Ontario Horticultural Association at the Legion in October, and we were energized by the force of nature that is Paul Zammit, who brought us his presentation, Rethinking Beauty.  Sylvia Keesmaat and Mary Carr entertained us with both a skit and a song.


Over 111 members, supported at the junior level by 55 Green Team students from Langton Public School, keep 15 gardens around town in photograph-ready shape.  Renovations to the Terrace Garden below the falls, a feature of life in Fenelon since planning began on it in 1937, saw fresh plants, new stairs, and a railing installed.  The Food Bank was the beneficiary of over 500 lbs. of fresh produce thanks to the tireless efforts of Judy Kennedy, Laurie Jones, and many other volunteers.  City and provincial funds, donations, and Powerlinks grants helped financially with all projects.  Our members volunteered 3,300 hours of thier time this year!


The Horticultural Society bursary went to Autumn White of Fenelon Falls Secondary School, who is currently studying at Trent University. 


Kathy expressed her gratitude that she's a part of a dynamic and enthusiastic club.  She closed with a quote from Ontario Horticultural Association president, Katherine Smyth, who wrote to congratulate us as we reached our 100th anniversary; "in 1919, your founding members could never have imagined what you have become today and what you will accomplish in the future".


Gardeners love to bring some of the natural world into our homes whenever we can; we buy potted spring bulbs as soon as they appear in grocery stores and nurseries; we pick bouquets all summer; we decorate with gourds and leaves in the fall.  We can enjoy nature's beauty indoors in winter too, and Judy Seymour helped us to appreciate how beautiful branches, boughs, twigs, and "a little bling", can look with designer skill.  In less than an hour, she whipped up a swag, a boxed arrangement, a large bow, a one-sided display for a vanity or table, and a centrepiece.  Then, she generously donated them all as door prizes.  My attempts at winter decor used to consist of a bunch of red dogwood twigs in a green glasss jar, so I was paying attention.  Judy wired spruce, pine, cedar and juniper branches at their cut ends, added an evergreen piece pointing up at the top to hide the 'handle', and finished off the swag with decorative metallic-blue ribbon.  She wrapped a box with paper bags from the LCBO, filled it with perfectly proportioned evergreens and twigs, and voila! arrangement number 2 was done.  Cut boughs at an angle and insert them in Oasis foam which is kept evenly moist, and your dispays will last.  Fill a sink or tub with water and place the Oasis on top.  It will sink slowly as it absorbs water.  She created a lovely bow in no time. 


When you decorate with nature, says Judy, you can walk in the woods and get creative with what you find.  She even made improptu use of Scots pine boughs brought by Robbie Preston after he'd help clear the trees from a tract of forest.  An invasive species in some parts,  Scots pines are being given away for free as Christmas trees to anyone who cares to show up and do some sawing (limit 1 per car).  Judy created a one-sided arrangement which displays its best face to the room and can sit on a side table or countertop.  The centrepiece, effective on a dinner table, but not so high that people can't see over it, was next.  This arrangement can be low and long, and looks best with greenery placed thickly at its edges ('no holes'), and built gradually toward the middle.  Bows on wire and flowers can be dotted here ant there throughout the centrepiece.  Insert these features in odd numbers, which, for some reason, is more attractive to the eye.  Judy says florists work best with bare hands, and her fingers used to be stuck together with evergreen resin at the end of a busy day.  Cooking oil can unglue this mess.  If you purchase supplies at a gardent centre or grocery store (have you seen the prices they charge for a few dogwood twigs?), and you're unsure how long ago they were cut, it's a good idea to recut the stems before you create your arrangements.  Thrift stores and dollar shops are good sources of inexpensive containers and trims.  And, above all, "practice, practice, practice", says Judy.  We thanked her for her inspiring demonstration.


When our second century begins in 2020, "Liberation 75" tulips will bloom at the Cenotaph at Market and Francis Streets.  They will flower because dedicated volunteers took time to plan and plant, knowing that even gardening requires patience.  They will flower near a monument which marks the sacrifices made in a war which ended just as our founders began to plan the Society's first meeting.  And they will flower to beautify a village those remembered loved to live in, just as we do.


See you in March!




Reported by Janet Scott

When 150 dedicated and enthusiastic gardeners gather in one place, we talk about... gardening!  A record turnout from the 17 member societies of the O.H.A.'s District Four met for our Fall Seminar on October 26, at the Royal Canadian Legion in Fenelon Falls.  Tasty baked goods, fruits and refreshments were enjoyed.  We applauded the 80th anniversary of the Omemee Blooms Garden Club, Fenelon's Centennial, and Cobourg's 160th year.  Ontario Horticultural Association President, Katharine Smyth, sent greetings.  The recent passing of Muriel Flagler, a long-time force on the Bobcaygeon garden scene, was noted with sadness. 


Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society President, Kathy Armstrong, welcomed us and we enjoyed hearing about our efforts this year, which included Fenelon's new rain and pollinator gardens, the publication of a history of our society, and the beautiful Victory Garden at the Museum.


District Four Director, Dianne Westlake, spoke about the O.H.A.'s strategic plan, insurance coverage for our nearly 30,000 members, meetings at which we asked ourselves what we can do better to bring meaning and attract members, and the July 2019 convention held in steamy Windsor, when only the toughest delegates attempted all the outdoor activities.  The grant process for special projects was discussed.  Norwood's exciting new one-acre pollinator patch was a recipient of such a grant, and a representative explained just how much $200.00 can accomplish in the hands of dedicated and visionary volunteers.  A high-profile location on Highway 7 was chosen, 35 children from the Church after-school programme were involved, and learned about the plants they were nurturing.  Cake and lemonade were served at the Blossom Cafe after the opening.  A backhoe dug out shrub roots and the planting plan was changed on the fly when an old house foundation was discovered on the site.  It sounds like Norwood's pollinators have a new destination, and this new garden will thrive.


The Recognition Fund recipients in Omemee honoured the memory of Norma Evans by installing a 350 lb. stone frog with two babies at Beach Park, on its very own 400 lb. slab of rock, for all visitors to enjoy.  At the dedication ceremony, the sculpture, named 'Here Comes the Frog', was covered with a blanket until the big reveal.  The frog has become a very popular spot for pictures.  Norma's 3 daughters sent the committee a lovely letter of thanks, which was read out at this meeting.


The Peterborough Garden Show, to be held on April 24th, 25th and 26th, 2020, was also discussed.  The move to Fleming College's Trades and Technology Centre this year was so well received that it will become permanent, and the show will expand its footprint within the building.  To-date, the show has given over $200,000.00 in grants and scholarships!


Fenelon's Helen Newlove was given a bouquet for her many years of service to the O.H.A., including trips to conventions as a delegate.  Flowers went to Kathy Armstrong as well, in honour of a special birthday on the 27th.


Fenelon's Sylvia Keesmaat and Mary Carr then took over the airwaves on Radio Station FFLK, 88.7 on your dial, with a very funny scripted entertainment 'show'; Stuff to Help You Live the Good Life.  Our host, who said 'I look like a young Robbie Preseton!', interviewed guest Daisy, here to celebrate Fenelon's 100th anniversary, and struggled mightily to undertand the difference between hoarding and horticulture.  "What do you hoard? You hoard trees?"  'No', said Daisy; 'we beautify Fenelon Falls through horticulture.  We've been designing, planting and tending village gardens for a century.  We learn how local efforts can have wide-ranging benefits.  We used to give members bulbs when they joined'.  'Lightbulbs?' 'No, flower bulbs, even Russell Lupins!' 'Russell Lupin? Don't know him.' 'Our most recent contribution is the rain garden near the museum.' 'Is that where you do a rain dance?' asked our befuddled host.  'No', said Daisy, 'that's where carefuly-chosen plantings slow, filter and clean rainwater before returning it to the watershed.  We plant bulbs each fall, too'.  'When I have a falling out with the missus, I pick a bouquet' admitted our host.  'That's where the tulips go!' exclaimed Daisy.  The sketch closed with a hearty sing-a-long to the False Blue Indigo Girls' version of The Gardener, sung to the tune of The Gambler.  The chorus goes:


"You gotta learn when to weed it, learn when to feed it, learn when to dig it up, learn when to prune..."


Before lunch, delegates perused the colourful entries in three categories of photography, and enjoyed the floral design competition, which included a category for miniatures.  In the same room were the displays and banners from each society.  So, what's trending for 2019?  We've enjoyed films, trips to nurseries, garden tours, many flower and photography competitions, continue to work on beds and containers in and around our villages, towns and cities, plant sales and pot-luck meals, encouraging children to love growing things as much as we do, lending libraries of garden books, speakers on container gardening, peonies, daylillies, native plants, water gardens, and particularly on pollinators, and even a gardening radio show on CKOL in Campbellford.


Following the Horticultural Grace, we enjoyed a very tasty lunch, and then our keynote speaker, Paul Zammitt, took the stage with his thoughts on Rethinking Beauty; Inspiring Gardeners in a Changing World.  Much as plants convert sunlight to chlorophyll, Paul converts his love of gardening into enthusiasm.  You can't help but be inspired by someone who loves the world of plants as much as he does.  H is a member of GardenMaking's list of the top 20 people shaping gardening today, a broadcaster on CBC radio's Here and Now, a tour guide who's recently visited Germany, South Africa, and Sicily; a life-long learner who has studied at the world-famous garden at Great Dixter, and Landscape Ontario's Garden Communicator of the Year.  He worked at Plant World for many years, and now spreads the joy of horticulture from the Toronto Botanical Gardens.  He told us he's been speaking on his favourite subject for 25 years, and that this was a very personal presentation for him as a father and grandfather.  We should be glad to have horticulture in our lives, he told us, because we can have an impact beyond our own gardens.  "Horticulture is a legal additction!", he said joyfully.  He often speaks with elementary school teachers and encourages them to make a difference in their students' lives now.  Be open to learn, says Paul.  "If you know it all, I'd love to meet you!"  He showed us a beautiful picture of famed garden writer and friend, Marjorie Harris', window, which she'd designed to open wide in the Japanese style, to allow her house to flow directly into her garden beyond.  "I'd like to go out with a shovel in my hand", said Marjorie.


Paul used his own garden to illustrate its journey from two squares of lawn to a living and thriving ecosystem in which a fox feels relaxed enough to take a nap on a peony, pollinators buzz from spring to late fall, Paul himself can disappear from view when bending to tend a plant, and a woman in a white van could pull up one day to show her elderly mother his garden, and thank him. (she also asked, "are you the help here?")  Gardens change with time, says Paul.  His neighbour has 'built the Taj Mahal next door', so the available light is in flux.


Ask yourself some questions, he advises.  "Why do you garden? How alive is the garden? Show of hands, how many of you garden because it's easy?  Gardens aren't quick.  They don't come in a can, nor are they completed in a weekend.  Gardens don't start in May and end in October.  They keep people healthy.  They are lifelong classrooms.  They can help patients in hospital heal.  There's no such thing as a perfect lawn.  Give back to the garden instead of taking.  Don't aim for the matchy-poo Martha effect.  Consider turning off the tap and letting your lawn go dormant.  It will recover.  Don't be so quick to deadhead - brown is a colour!"  Paul sid enthusiastically, showing us a picture of echinacea in flower, and later in the season as a series of spiky accents in a fall garden.


Paul gets to work (or is it play?) every day in the glorious setting of the T.B.G., soon to undergo an expansion from 4 to 30 acres.  He showed us a picture of a red-tailed hawk which hunts there.  He also showed us canna 'Cleopatra', which sends an unusual vertical burgundy stripe up each leaf and into the flowers, planted with dill.  He edges beds with parsley.  Sanguinaria candensis 'Multiplex', the rare double bloodroot, has been stolen from the T.B.G.  "You'll see me with a shovel chasing you!" warns Paul.  When he bought one for his own garden, he told his wife, "we can feed the boys this week, but not ourselves!"


We need to consider the life our plants live before and after we buy them.  Why can't plants be sold in recyclable or biodegradable pots?  When the City of Toronto told Paul they won't recycle black plastic pots because the conveyor belts at the depots are black, he said "I'll be there tomorrow with a paint brush".


Bees are trendy lately, says Paul, but they're not the only pollinators.  Native Mason bees may not be as super sexy, but they're just as important.  Likewise, the Monarch may be the "poster child" for butterflies, but the Brown Skipper is equally valuable.  "Think about what is really beautiful" he advised us.  A cercis leaf with holes in it means leafcutters are at work.  Let's make a new category in flower shows for the non-perfect rose (this drew applause).  Further to his theme of rethinking, he said when people tell him nature is peaceful and tranquil, he responds "are you kidding me? Nature is a bloodbath!"


"Look at this wonderful mess!" he exclaimed, and showed us a picture of a fallen log rotting in a forest.  "THIS IS THE BEST PICTURE I'VE SHOWN YOU!"  With that, he fell to his knees.


"It's not the size of your space, but your vision and mission", advised Paul.  The prolonged standing ovation he received showed how much his talk had affected, challenged, and inspired us. 


Following Share the Wealth draws for 3 gift baskets, we selected a scented pelagorium to take home, and concluded the Fall Seminar.



      September Meeting Recap

 By Janet Scott


                                                                 “Wow!” said Paul Heydon as he surveyed our membership gathered to                                                                        hear him talk about native plants on September 23rd.  “A hundred                                                                              members AND you’ve got a TV!”  Paul attended Sir Sandford Fleming,                                                                    graduated from Trent University, and has operated Grow Wild! Native                                                                      Plant Nursery on Highway 7 in Omemee for over 20 years.  He’s given                                                                        over 150 speeches about his work.  Anyone who loves native plants so                                                                          much that he has made room in his beer fridge for seed stratification is                                                                        someone the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society wants to hear from.                                                                          Paul made use of our TV to illustrate his talk.


                                                                  Paul learned that many of the plants growing in the understory of his parents’ forested land were invasive and not native and he wanted to learn how to contribute positively to the natural environment.  Native plants lived in North America before European settlement and evolved over millennia to feed and shelter native animals, insects, and reptiles.  New Jersey tea, a native shrub, is a premier nectar plant for 50 butterfly, bee, wasp, and hoverfly species.  


Growing native plants can help counter the effects of what Paul calls the Homogeocene Era, decreased biodiversity which results from the global movement of plants caused by people.  Only five percent of Southern Ontario’s natural areas are left.  Plants such as cylindrical blazing star and wild blue lupine are rare or endangered in their home ranges.  No lupines, no Karner blue butterfly.  Native species, with roots which can grow eight feet deep, are drought tolerant and prevent erosion.  They don’t require chemicals to look their best.  And they’re tough: Lorraine Johnson writes in her book Grow Wild! (1998) of visiting a prairie garden in Illinois after seventeen inches of rain had fallen the previous day and a natural disaster had been declared.  Her host’s garden “was perky and standing tall … I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to the strength and resilience of the prairie. While all around us conventional plantings of suburban yards were gasping for life support, the prairie plants were saying, Catastrophe?  We’re built for catastrophe!”


Paul says native plants can provide interest from April to November.  He prefers to tailor plantings to their sites, advising us not to amend planting areas and to work with the soil we have.  Your soil type can be determined by stirring a trowelful in a Mason jar filled with water and observing the layers which form in a day or two.  Soil containing lots of sand will drain quickly; clay-heavy soils will hold moisture.  He showed us a garden he’d created for a client using the lasagna-bed method we learned about in August.  Mulch from Hydro One (for which he pays in beer!) tops the bed, which is allowed to settle for six months before planting.  Paul collects seeds in the wild with care: he never takes more than five percent of the seeds of one species, collects from large populations to ensure diversity, and doesn’t harm the sites, choosing to harvest pitcher plant seeds in winter when the ground is frozen rather than disturb their bog home.  He explained the different germination patterns of native seeds: some require a period of four to twenty weeks in moist soil or peat in the fridge and some need warm moist treatment before the cold period.  Some seeds with hard coats must be scarified with sandpaper; Paul lines a coffee can with it, puts in some good music, and shakes away!  Patience is a virtue, too: some plants such as lilies and trilliums can take seven years between seeding and flowering. He told us about lupine seeds which germinated after ten thousand years! He sprinkles most seed on the surface of an indoor sterilized potting mix. Some seeds can be germinated outdoors on peat or sand.


Paul then took us through a photo gallery of some of his favourites, starting in spring with skunk cabbage, a wetland plant which can raise the temperature around its roots enough to melt snow and which attracts carrion flies with its distinctive odour.  The flies travel from flower to flower, seeking the rotting meat they think is nearby, and pollinate the plants.  “Glad I’m human,” said Paul. 


Paul showed us ephemeral woodland plants such as trout lilies and trilliums, which complete their annual cycles in only eight weeks before the trees leaf out and then retreat underground, and longer-lasting favourites like bloodroot, mayapple, and wild ginger.  He was once asked if wild ginger is edible.  “Anything’s edible once!” he said cheerfully.  He explained that in dry years, Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are male, waiting for moister years to produce seed.  “Men are cheap!” he said. Sawflies from Europe are now plaguing the leaves of the lovely columbine. Hot sauce, he’s been told, might be the answer. Paul loves ferns: there are 35 to 40 varieties in Ontario.


Summer sees sun-loving plants in the spotlight.  Beardtongue is one of Paul’s favourites.  Black-eyed Susan, he says, can behave like an annual and bloom itself nearly to death.  Cardinal flower in wet soil and blue lobelia in drier conditions provide red and blue flowers for hummingbirds.  Paul likes Campanula rotundifolia, the delicate bellflower, but not the non-native creeping bellflower, a weedy plant he’s been trying to kill for 25 years. “What an incredible plant,” he said sarcasm dripping from his voice. He spoke of seeing frogs and mice trapped by carnivorous plants: “It’s a cruel world!”


Joe Pye weed, asters, bottle gentians, goldenrod, and sneezeweed (Who wants to buy a plant called sneezeweed?” he lamented) help the native garden shine well into fall.  Paul recommends smooth rose (native roses are single and good for pollinators), fragrant sumac, red and silky dogwood, serviceberry, and potentilla to gardeners looking for native shrubs.  Trees worth growing (as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago; the second-best time to plant is now) include hackberries, black and sugar maples, white oaks, butternuts, cedars, black cherries, and the rock stars of the tree world, birches (“They grow fast and die young”). An oak cored in Toronto was found to be 550 years old!


Paul included a section on invasive plants at the end of his talk which gave us some idea of the scale of the problem. The beetle brought to Canada to eat loosestrife now seems to be eating native plants.  Monarch butterflies are confused by dog-strangling vine, a member of the same plant genus as milkweed, and will lay their eggs on it; these eggs don’t survive.  Garlic mustard is able to colonize shaded forest areas.  Goutweed seems nearly indestructible: Paul saw it spread by the roots under heavy layers of cardboard to pop up eight feet away.  He wants Norway maple dead, not alive.  He once showed pictures of buckthorn during a talk and a woman asked him, “Isn’t that chokecherry?  I made jam from the berries for my whole family!” The Latin for buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartic, means laxative he had to tell her.  What do you do about periwinkle? he was asked.  “Move” he said.  


Paul explained that he started to search for alternatives to these and other invasive plants and discovered the world of native flora.  His research led from hobby to study to business opportunity and he’s been sharing his knowledge ever since.  After Barbara Hewton thanked him for his talk, he said, “A hundred members, a TV, AND I get a mug?  This could be the best horticultural society ever!”         




The History of FF Horticultural Society                         1919 - 2019

Hot off the press! 

Here it is - the history of the first 100 years of the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society.  


To purchase a copy (only $10), contact us.  

Celebrating 100 Years - August 26, 2019 

Movie Review:  The Gardener














                                                                           from  July 22, 2019 Meeting of the FFHS

                                              Reviewer:  Janet Scott


                                                                         In her 2007 book, Down to Earth with Helen Dillon, the Irish                                                                                     writer and gardener extraordinaire recalled two friends on a tour. “I                                                                             overheard the comment ‘Of course, she throws money at her                                                                                          garden' and then, after a long pause, ‘but she does it impeccably.’ ”                                                                               Frank Cabot threw money at his beloved garden for decades and the                                                                           result is Les Quatre Vents in La Malbaie, Quebec, the subject of                                                                                   “The Gardener,” the movie Horticultural Society members saw on                                                                              July 22nd.  We settled in with our tea, coffee, lemonade, cookies and                                                                            popcorn and spent 90 minutes dreaming. Frank generously gave the filmmakers a long interview despite being in declining health (he died in 2011) and his insights frame the glorious cinematography. His small terrier lay on the grass behind Frank's chair, pointedly ignoring the whole business except for one quick glance at the camera as if to say, “You are disturbing my nap time. Go away.”


Frank came from the blue- blood Social Register Cabot clan of Massachusetts, about whom the poem says, “Boston is the land of the bean and the cod, where Cabots speak only to Lowells and Lowells speak only to God.”  Faint traces of his accent remained (he speaks of his “gawden”) as he told us that Les Quatre Vents had been in the family for generations before he inherited and it had been a summer retreat for him as a child. His father had raised the insurance limit on the house just before he died and the payout after a fire allowed Frank's mother to build the “rather pretentious” house which stands to this day. Frank and his wife, Anne, did nothing to the garden for 10 years after he inherited the property other than import her horses from New York state. In 1975, Frank began to expand his garden as therapy after a business failure, which my fellow moviegoers agreed couldn't have been too ruinous. The great writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse told us that “all gardeners like all geniuses are a little mad. Of course, with his money, he was able to be more genius than mad.”


 The manicured lawn, the tapis vert, is the access point to all the garden rooms at Les Quatre Vents. A Guardian newspaper columnist spoke admiringly of “palate cleansers,” evergreen visual rest areas interspersed among the dazzling perennial beds. One such area features a topiary couch and table!  The original land purchase at La Malbaie was something like ninety square miles, so Frank had room to explore plants in great swaths of bloom:  one garden is an explosion of delphiniums, another an ode to astilbes, still another a hymn to creeping phlox...You get the idea. It's gorgeous. So many primulas grow at Les Quatre Vents (“They're very promiscuous”) that an entirely new hybrid appeared on its own one day and has been duly registered and named for Frank's head gardener.  “From April to the end of June, this garden will blow your mind,” says Frank.


Frank’s friend, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, tells us, “Behind the magic, there's a magician.” Frank declines the compliment and says, “I'm a world-class plagiarizer.” Himalayan rope bridges? Why not? Let's have two!  A three-storey pigeoneer complete with spiral staircase, hand-painted china in the second floor tea room, botanical original paintings on the plaster, and a lit d’amour on the top floor?  Yes please!  The two Japanese houses built by an imported master of the craft, who felled and dried to the logs for four years, pieced together the structures over three summers, and unwrapped the finished product all at once so it would age evenly?  Sign me up! “All I need is more money,” sighed Linda McLeod next to me.  We comforted ourselves by noting his occasional design missteps such as the disproportionately tall archway which took years to settle into its surroundings.  “My wife was terribly upset,” said Frank.  We also agreed that all those perfect knife edges on all the evergreens would need too much work.  You’d have to hire staff (Frank did).  You'd never be alone.  Even the great Penelope Hobhouse declared, “When I see a work of art, I am made better,” tried to contain herself by saying, “Of course I didn't agree with everything he did.”


 But mostly we were enchanted. We joined the oohs and aahs as the perfect half circle of a bridge was made whole in the pond below and as the camera focused on the six-foot-tall metal frog orchestra and as daffodils glowed in the spring sunshine.  Frank's enthusiasm won us over as he explained that he'd love to plant more perennials in his wife's vegetable garden but she won't let him.  He shared his garden with the public to raise money for various causes over the years.  At the first tour he was overwhelmed to find 2,000 cars trying to park in his driveway!  People told him they driven up to six hours for the chance to see Les Quatre Vents.  He and Anne were founding members of The Garden Conservancy, which has preserved ninety gardens including his own.  He published a gorgeous coffee table book called The Greater Perfection, which I kick myself for not having bought when I had the chance because it's now out of print.


Whether you left inspired, envious, dazzled or bit of all three, movie night at the Horticultural Society was a resounding success.  See you on August 26th when we will learn about lasagna gardening.


                                                                                Report by Janet Scott                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                               We’ve been celebrating a century of beautifying Fenelon Falls all year.                                                                         We gathered for a potluck dinner in March.  We hosted shoppers from                                                                       far and wide at Spring into Gardening in May.  We opened the gates of                                                                       eleven gardens for a tour in July.  We’ve learned about pollinator                                                                                   pathways, healing gardens, our changing climate, and forest gardening                                                                       from expert and engaged speakers.  We swooned over Frank Cabot’s                                                                           horticultural artistry at a screening of “The Gardener.”  In August, we                                                                       decided it was time to congratulate ourselves!  “Celebrating 100 Years and                                                                 Growing” was the theme of the evening, which featured distinguished                                                                       guests, cupcakes and ice cream courtesy of Maryboro Lodge: The Fenelon                                                                 Museum  and Slices ‘N’ Scoops, the debut of the Society’s history book,                                                                   the short film “A Gardener’s Family,” and, because gardeners can’t gather                                                                    without discussing gardens, a very entertaining presentation about                                                                              lasagna gardening by Mary Carr.


Our federal Member of Parliament, Jamie Schmale, who sent regrets, wrote the Society a letter of congratulations.  Member of Provincial Parliament Laurie Scott brought a letter as well, and spoke of how glad she was to be home in her riding for our celebration.  Mayor Andy Letham, Ward 3 Councillor Doug Elmslie, and Ward 7 Councillor Pat O’Reilly were also in attendance.  “Well done and congratulations from City Hall,” said Mayor Letham.  Coun. Elmslie spoke of his appreciation for our efforts.  “Volunteers step up when they’re needed,” he said.  “We’d be a poorer community without them.  It’s up to us to get involved and make our community better.  Thank you.  See you in another 100 years!”   


Linda McLeod presented the Society with $521.00, the proceeds of a sale of named daylily cultivars from her own garden. 


The short film, “A Garden’s Family” turns the spotlight on Syd and Mary Perlmutter, who gardened at Blythe School House for many decades.  Director, actress, and teacher Geneviève Appleton co-produced the film with the Perlmutters’ daughter, Leah, and had hoped to join us but was called away by a family emergency.  Sharon Walker of Maryboro Lodge: The Fenelon Museum introduced the film for her. 


“It never occurred to me not to garden organically,” says Mary Perlmutter in the film.  “A seed grows into a plant.  It’s a miracle.  There’s joy in the garden.”  We saw how that joy reached three generations of the Perlmutter family as Leah introduced her children to Grandma’s garden and spoke of her journey from anxious citified teenager to a woman who had grown to realize that nature could find a calming place in her heart.  Mary expressed her belief that placing one’s hands in the earth can heal depression and that we garden for mental health.  The film ends with the family gathering for a meal grown mostly on their own land, noting that twenty-five years earlier, the land had been bare, and toasting Mary for her efforts.


When Kathy Armstrong parked in my driveway more than a year ago, handed me four slim binders from the Society’s archive, and asked me to write something about our first one hundred years, “two or three pages,” I said sure.  “Great! I’ll go get the other nineteen binders!” she said cheerfully.  I don’t think either of us knew what lay ahead.  The Society’s notes begin in 1940.  The Society began in 1919.  How to fill that information gap?  What about the Fenelon Falls Gazette microfiche archive?  With the only reader machines temporarily located in Lindsay, a series of trips began.  Thanks to Kathy, Judy Kennedy, and Mary Gascho for driving me through the winter weather to get the job done.  Thanks to the Fenelon library for finally transferring a reader back home.  “I think you should scan the Gazette right to the last reel in 2000 to get as full a picture of the Society’s coverage as you can,” said Kathy and she was right.  Librarians Shawnee and Constance reproduced countless archives for me and they are collected in a binder for all to read and to save the eyesight of future researchers who’d like to tell the Society’s story. 


I handed in a draft of my work in February. “It’s a bit thin after 1980,” said Kathy.  “Could you rewrite the last forty years?”  She was right again: more work was needed.  Copies moved between us for months to be edited; photos were selected from the Society and from the Maryboro Lodge archive (thanks to Glenn Walker); and a painting by long-time Society member and Secretary Bessie Nie was brought to our attention by Sharon Walker.  Patrick Wylde brought his design expertise to the project, photographed Society gardens and the tour in July, advised and guided the book to publication, and the result is one we hope you enjoy.


“Lasagna, wine. Wine, lasagna,” began Mary Carr as she poured herself a large glass of robust red and explained her garden-building method to us.  Quoting Alfred Austin, “To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul,” she presented a very well organized talk about a non-traditional method of creating planting areas.  “I’m lazy and I’m cheap,” says Mary. 


Lasagna gardening is less taxing, requires no digging, and saves work, energy, and time.  It’s like gardening in a compost pile.  Mary explained that she and friends built her latest lasagna garden, a 10-by-20 -foot bed in one day this past June!  Sous-chef & husband Ron Carr demonstrated the layering method which produces a lasagna bed: a base of cardboard or newspaper, a brown layer of carbon-bearing material (leaves, straw, shredded paper, or sawdust), and a green layer of nitrogen-bearing grass, compost, aged manure, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, and or even seaweed.  Water each layer before adding the next.  Beds can be up to 24 inches high. Two inches of soil on top will add natural bacteria to the bed, which can be built in the fall and allowed to “cook” over winter, advice Mary confesses she doesn’t always follow.  Lasagna beds will soon host worms which help turn the various ingredients into soil.  Ready to plant?  Pull the layers aside, add soil to the hole, insert your plant, water, and replace the layers.


Mary fulfilled a dream of planting a pollinator patch with native Ontario plants (the topic of our next speaker on September 23rd!)  She placed a log in her new garden and created an unmulched backbone of sandy soil for burrowing critters.  In Year 1, regular watering and weeding are required to get your plants off to a good start.  Water as needed in Years 2 and 3.  Cut back plants in Year 3 and otherwise leave things alone.  Any mulch you apply in spring or summer or fall is left on the bed forever.  “After that, nothing,” says Mary, who recommends the book Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza (1998) as a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about Lasagna gardening.  Directions to building a pollinator patch came from A Guide to Creating a Pollinator Patch, created by the Ontario Horticultural Association.  Mary’s before and after photos of her garden being built and as it looks today, filling out lushly with pollinator-attracting plants, convinced many of us to try lasagna gardening ourselves.

Forest Gardening

June 24, 2019 Meeting Summary

by Janet Scott 

What A Plant Sale! A Recap

                        by Janet Scott

                                                                             While it's true that we were hoping the Spring Into Gardening Plant Sale would                                                     make a splash, maybe we should have been more specific!  As ten o-clock                                                                   approached on Saturday,  May 25, Mother Nature reminded us she's always in                                                         charge.  Down came the rain.  Vendors looked skyward.  The many Horticultural                                                   Society volunteers who'd met, planned, and worked for months toward this day                                                     fretted.  Would anyone come?  Could the good people of Fenelon Falls be                                                                 persuaded to leave their dry homes?  


Well, we needn't have worried.  Gardeners who happily plant in any weather weren't put off by a little rain.  They came.  They stayed.  They shopped.  Whoever decided that tents were a good idea for plants, and wares looked like a genius.  Visitors chose from tables laden with plants for sun or shade, perennials, food seedlings, and even dahlias.  Then they toured the marketplace, where vendors offered Indian food, garden art fashioned from salvaged metal and given new life on carefully chosen boards, and original watercolours.  They bought heirloom tomato plants, spoke with a landscae designer, learned about the bee city program, chose flowers made from glass, and bought horticultural Society t-shirts and hoodies.                                  They were seen strolling while munching on homemade baked goods, carrying large                                    metal flowers and trees, and buying plant based lotions and salves for natural skin care.                              They bought garden books and sought advice on their plant problems from an expert.


Meanwhile, inside Maryboro Lodge:  The Fenelon Museum opened its doors and                                      proudly showed off Ann Langton's important sketches of life in these parts more than 175 years ago.  In The Little Cinema, A garden's family, a film about organic gardener Mary Pelmutter, screened througout the day and the filmmaker was in attendance to discuss it.


MPP Laurie Scott and Ward Three councillor Doug Elmslie were spotted in the crowd.  The Green Team at Langton Public School worked hard all day, helping shoppers haul carts of purchases to their cars, and even donated their tips to the Society!  One vendor was overheard saying to a board member, "If you do this again next year, call me.  I'll be there!"


All proceeds of Spring Into Gardening stay in Fenelon Falls.  The Horticultural Society founded in 1919, thanks everyone for helping us celebrate a century of gardening, community, and beautifying our village.  We couldn't do it without you!


Fresh from what for her is a normal spring in which she seeded 1,700 heirloom tomatoes, sold all but twenty, and then planted 150 more in her garden at home, all while teaching at the University of Toronto, Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat somehow found time to speak to the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society on June 24th about forest gardening. Introduced as “an Energizer bunny who wears many hats,” Sylvia spoke to our membership (which has reached 100!)  about mimicking the natural systems of the forest to create biodiversity.  Sylvia earned a permaculture design certificate in 2014 and, while studying in California, compared a traditional rowed garden to one designed to permaculture specifications. The former was a quiet place and the latter was filled with bird song and the buzzing of insects. It was a fragrant and visually complex place and encouraged Sylvia to put permaculture practices to work at home in Ontario. The properly designed garden is productive, conserves water, replenishes the soil, absorbs carbon, smells and sounds good and, once established, requires little maintenance. Doesn't that sound like something to aim for? These gardens combine food, beauty, habitat, and species preservation, all while potentially earning income from the crops they produce.


The original gardeners in our area, the Anishinaabe, managed the forest ecosystem for millennia. They conducted controlled burns, cut willow for baskets, tapped maples and birches for sap to make syrup, built canoes, and harvested chestnuts, acorns, elderberries, grapes, and raspberries. They made medicine and planted the Three Sisters, corn, squash, and beans, in fire-cleared areas. European settlers brought with them the idea that wealth was demonstrated by using land for cultivating beauty and they grew flowers, parterres, and hedges, and relegated food crops to kitchen gardens.


Sylvia showed us a picture of a mature monoculture crop of grain in a field. Once harvested, its resemblance to a clear-cut forest was unmistakable and every creature which lived in or fed on the crop was made homeless. Industrial agriculture relies heavily on synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to keep annual yields high. Forest gardening does not.  Sylvia noted how important food crops are to recent immigrants to Canada in her Toronto neighborhood, a habit more established residents seem to have lost.  One man in Toronto has become famous for his precious backyard fig tree, which he bends to the ground each fall and buries in a trench covered with pink fiberglass insulation and raises again each spring!


Forest gardens are anchored by trees, says Sylvia. The erosions plaguing Haiti is not repeated on the Dominican Republic side of the island because the Dominican Republic has kept its trees. The Toronto neighbourhood of Wychwood Park can be 10 degrees cooler on hot days than the concrete-covered downtown due to its tree canopy. Even dead and dying trees have value: forest managers in Germany's Black Forest are resorting to building birdhouses for woodpeckers to replace the natural snag trees they need to survive.  A single tree can make a huge difference:  its leaf litter enriches the soil, its roots hold the earth and channel water slowly, and it provides habitat for birds, mammals, insects, flowers, and fungi.  An acre of wheat produces a ton of grain.  An acre of chestnut trees produces three tons of nuts.  An acre of apples produces seven tons of fruit.  Sylvia showed us a picture of curving rows of trees with grass planted between them in which cows can graze.


 The forest garden can be seen as a series of seven layers. At the top, well-spaced nut trees (walnuts, pecans and oaks) grow tallest.  Below them grow smaller fruit trees yielding apples, peaches, and plums.  The shrub layer features currants, raspberries, milkweed, (“a more important newly legal plant than marijuana,” says Sylvia) and even peonies for their sheer beauty.  In the herb layer, comfrey, yarrow, basil, sage, tarragon, parsley, and catmint grow. Trying a recipe for tincture of motherwort, Sylvia found herself at the LCBO asking for a litre of their cheapest vodka. “It's like that, is it?” said the man at the desk sympathetically.  Ground cover plants such as thyme, clover, strawberries, nasturtiums, spinach and lettuce come next. But check your leaves well before you make a salad for guests: Sylvia was forced to phone a friend to say, “Mary, we may have poisoned you this evening” when calendula leaves were mistaken for lettuce!  A vine layer can grow grapes, cucumbers, hops, kiwis, and squash.  A root layer will produce horseradish, onions, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes.  Gaps at the garden edges can be planted with annuals.


Wanting to put her studies to practical use, Sylvia has plunged into forest gardening at home on what for her is a completely undaunting two-acre scale!  Forest gardens provide shelter and windbreaks.  They fix nitrogen in the soil.  They act as dynamic accumulators, pulling deep nutrients up through the soil.  They repel pests:  nasturtiums, feverfew, and anything lemon-scented will do the trick. They mask scents and shapes from hungry critters:  calendula planted amongst spinach both resembles and hides it. They attract insects: bergamot, dill, yarrow, alyssum, and lavender are loved by bees and butterflies. “My black locust is buzzing right now,” says Sylvia.


Sylvia showed us pictures of forest gardens both large and small as inspiration and told us of a man in Melbourne, Australia, who has turned his 1/10 acre yard into a productive and profitable place with only two hours of labour a week.  She also mentioned taking heartnuts from a squirrel “and he moved into our roof!”  She recommends the book Gaia's Garden as a great place for anyone interested in forest gardening to start reading.  She says that due to the English spring we've had, her tulip season was nice and long and all her gardens are huge.  Barbara thanked her for her presentation. 


Whether you grow “spuds in the tub” as Mary Carr does or you're just outside enjoying our long-awaited summer at last (try lint rollers to remove ticks, we were advised), we hope to see you at our next meeting for the screening of “The Gardener” on July 22nd at the Senior Citizens’ Club on Murray Street.



Changing Climate, From a Naturalist's Perspective

          Presented by Drew Monkman at the May 27 FFHS Meeting


                                               Reported by Janet Scott 

Sir David Attenborough once said that to communicate effectively about the natural world, he can't cloak his speeches in doom and gloom. "People simply tune you out," he said.  Drew Monkman, who spoke to the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society on The Climate Crisis: A Naturalist's Perspective, must have known this because despite the seemingly depressing nature of his topic, he sent us into the night feeling educated, empowered, and encouraged.


Drew's a writer, retired teacher, published author, and an engaging and informed speaker. He began by updating us on the science of climate change, saying that it's known variously as global warming, climate chaos, climate weirding, and climate catastrophe. "Am l an alarmist?" he asked. "There is a role for alarmism. Don't pussy foot around the issue."



  • Carbon dioxide acts like a blanket over the atmosphere and traps heat inside it. Levels have risen from 250 parts per million to 415, with 350 being considered safe. Half that carbon has been added in the last 50 years.

  • Canada is warming at twice the global rate and the Arctic is warming at three times the average.

  • One million species are on track to disappear in the next two decades.

  • Severe storms, droughts, heat waves, extreme cold, rising sea levels, and climate refugees as wars are fought over water (many people streaming north to the U.S. - Mexico border were driven off their farms by lack of rain) can be expected.

  • The polar vortex, which keeps cold air trapped by the jet stream at the top of the world, seems to be breaking up, allowing severe cold to sink southward in the winter. It was colder in Chicago than at the North Pole at times this winter. Weather patterns can become stuck, resulting in long stretches of cold. In recent extended cold, the Great Lakes were 90 percent frozen. We're on track for more freezing rain. On the flip side, it was 17° Celsius on Christmas Eve in 2015, and 2018 saw 24 days over 30°C, when the historical average is 6 days. Seventy-five percent of recent months in Peterborough have been warmer than the 1971- 2000 average.

  • In records dating to 1850, seventeen of the eighteen hottest years on Earth have come since 2000.


Drew spoke about his own reasons for concern. He's a father of four and a grandparent of six. He worries about the future his family will inherit. He sometimes despairs at the lack of meaningful action he sees and the way politicians who try to act are lambasted publicly for their efforts. He worries about complacency and denial. His wife sometimes asks him to avoid bringing climate change to the table when they have guests.


Drew brought our attention as gardeners to the changes around us.  His book, Nature's Year, the result of seven years of research, showed the departures from norms.

  • Leaves change color at different times and trees sometimes drop their leaves without color to protect themselves during droughts.

  • Trilliums bloom earlier.

  • Lilacs flower 10 to 14 days earlier than their one-hundred-year average.

  • Tree and grass pollen comes earlier (pollen counts are expected to double by 2040).

  • Migrating birds return earlier to nest.

  • Peepers sing 10 to 20 days earlier than in 1995.

  • Weeds like loose strife, dog-strangling vine, garlic mustard, and phragmites thrive on higher carbon dioxide levels.  Poison ivy is bigger and its oil more potent.  Ragweed makes more pollen.

  • Southern species are being seen locally, too.  Virginia opossums, flying squirrels, Carolina wrens, and mockingbirds are appearing in places they've never been seen before.

  • Forests and wetlands are under stress.  If, as predicted, we have the climate of southern Pennsylvania by 2070, our pines and maples are threatened.  Ashes are already in decline due to the emerald ash borer. Invasive trees like buckthorn are moving in.

  • Turtles flee their formerly wet homes in drought and are appearing badly injured at rescue centres in greater numbers every year.

  • The connections between plants and the pollinators they need are breaking down.

  • Forest fires and floods resulting from "rain bombs" are more common.

  • Seasonal rituals become unpredictable: even the ability to have an outdoor rink in Canada is less certain now.


So, with this “greatest threat to humanity's future,” as Drew puts it, why are we unable to act?  Maybe we suffer from what he calls "optimism bias.  "Maybe the challenges seem too huge, too overwhelming.  Maybe “our brains react slowly to slow-motion change.”  Maybe we despair that our politicians can agree on anything.  Maybe we feel that actions with results two to three generations in the future are impossible. Maybe we don't understand the science.  Maybe it's easy to confuse weather and climate.  "Weather is what you get.  Climate is what you expect," says Drew.  Maybe we feel that individual efforts won't make a difference.


How do we move forward at what Drew calls the 11th hour and 55th minute?  As sometimes happens, the clear, strong voice of one person can lead us.  A 16-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, spoke for the next generation in October 2018.  "I don't want your hope," she said.  "I want your panic.  I want you to behave like our house is on fire.  Because it is."


Reducing carbon output by fifty percent by 2030 and near zero by 2050 will ensure no more than 1.5°C of warming.  We're on track for 4 to 5 degrees this century.  Vote, says Drew, for candidates who propose carbon-reduction policies.  Talk about how you feel. Organize, rally, and protest.


Drew belongs to an organization called 4RG (For Our Grandchildren).  Seem alarmist.  Complacency gets us nowhere.  Tell politicians we want action.  Set an example.  Be informed.  Canada is number two per capita of emissions in the world.  Countries with similar climates, like those in Scandinavia, have one third of our emissions.  Act together.

"The good thing about science," says astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, "is it's true whether or not you believe in it."  Drew Monkman told us about "climate despair" but as the lively discussion after his talk showed, we're ready to move beyond despair and see what we can do to help the only home we have.


Best Plant Sale Ever!

                                                         So we had a little rain.  That has never stopped a gardener!  


                                                          The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society 100th Anniversary                                                                   Plant Sale on Saturday, May 25, 2019 was a resounding                                                                           success!  What a great location at Maryboro Lodge, the                                                                           Fenelon Museum.   Thanks to Darlene Young and her team of                                                             enthusiastic volunteers,  it was a great day.  Teams of                                                                                 volunteers had travelled to gardens last fall and this spring to                                                                 help with dividing plants and potting and labeling, so there                                                                   were plants everywhere!


Society volunteers helped with set up on Friday and were on site Saturday to move equipment, and plants, and then stayed all day to help customers, and vendors.  Members of the Green Team helped customers get their purchases safely to their cars.  Customers were able to view the film, "A Gardener's Family in the Museum theatre.  There were gently used gardening books, FFHS t-shirts and coffee mugs for sale as well as memberships and passports to our upcoming Garden Tour.  Children could participate in activities planned just for them.


The vendors were a great addition to the event.  Thanks so much to Christine Handley of Handley Acres Custom Creations, Leslie from Crow Hill Farm, Irene Keesmat, Julie Moore of Modern Landscape Designers, Sylvia from Russett House Farm, Sheri's Home Baking, Spiraea Herbs + Snail Trails Homestead, RusTic Revival GarDen Art, Square Peg Woodworking and Nar's Spice Bazaar.  


Three cheers for all the people who came out in the rain to purchase plants for their gardens.  It was great to see the number of people looking for native plants.  We hope you found what you wanted.  Do come out to one of our monthly meetings and see what else the FFHS has to offer. 




Report of March & April Meetings

                                                   By Janet Scott


People come to gardening in all sorts of ways. Some have been at it as long as they can remember, toddling around their parents' vegetable plots with a watering can. Some garden when they can, staring out a window wistfully and wishing they had more time. Some fall in love with gardens after they've retired and the kids are grown and gone. Some must have a plant they see on a glossy catalogue cover and become hooked. There are husband and wife gardening teams and dedicated solo workers. We garden at home, in community plots, in pots on window sills and balconies, and on vacation properties.


The two most recent speakers at Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society meetings, Susan Blayney of Bee City Kawartha Lakes and Julie Moore - Cantieni, founder of Modern Landscape Designers, found their own unique ways to gardening.


Susan, who spoke to us after our March 25th potluck dinner (featuring no fewer than four kinds of devilled eggs!), claims not to be a gardener but an insect expert and then displayed a knowledge of plants and techniques any of us would envy. She was drawn to the Bee City program after a friend's e-mailed plea to do something for pollinators spurred her to action. Rather than feel sad, helpless, and depressed, she decided to get outside and do something positive to help declining populations of honeybees, native bees, birds, and butterflies.


Julie's path to designing healing and therapeutic gardens began in the hectic corporate world of advertising and digital media. Feeling stressed and tired, she found relief in Shiatsu therapy and later studied it intensively. Her journey to personal peace led her to the healing qualities of gardens and landscape design, which she studied at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is also a graduate of the Healthcare Landscape Design Program of the Chicago Botanic Garden.


Pollinator Pathways


Bee City's motto is Connecting People, Pollinators, and Places, and in her very well-organized three-part talk, Susan explained what Bee City is, what it's done so far, and what a pollinator garden looks like. One municipality at a time, we can transform the Canadian landscape and create safe, beautiful habitat for pollinators. There are 80 Bee Cities in the United States and 24 in Canada. Kawartha Lakes became one by resolution of Council in July 2017 ("It was easy," says Susan. "It cost them nothing!") and there is a Bee City page on the city's website. The Pollinator Action Committee meets monthly to create a work plan of projects whose aim is habitat creation and restoration. Langton is a Bee City school and there are 12 Bee City businesses in Kawartha Lakes including Bobcaygeon Settlers' Village.


The pollinators of Kawartha Lakes have a fighter in their corner in Susan. Would you stand in a hard hat atop a windswept hill on a cold November day to help plant a pollinator garden? Susan would and she has. A decommissioned corner of the Fenelon landfill site on Mark Road has been transformed into one of Bee City's projects and Susan was there to help with seeding. A book of useful information has been produced for any other municipalities wishing to do the same. Patches of ground at Windy Ridge Conservation Area were prepared with grass-killing newspaper and seeded recently. Crops of annuals such as Canada wild rye grass act as nurse plants while perennials establish themselves.


Parks and open spaces in and around Lindsay are receiving native plants: a gardener has been "secretly planting for four years" in existing gardens, reports Susan. This year will see the planting of the Bee City logo in the Memorial Park Floral display by City horticulturist Megan Phillips. Apple and pear trees grow in Lindsay parks to tempt bees and high school students have made a bee hotel. Pollinator Pathways signs are available to private pollinator-friendly gardens, their locations are noted with butterflies on the bee city website, and a tour will take place on June 22nd of some of those gardens. There's even a Bee City road show which visits farmers' markets, libraries, and schools, and at which "I do dress up like a bee sometimes," admits Susan.


So, what is a pollinator garden? It's a lazy garden! It's minimally managed, not mulched much, never sprayed with chemicals, and doesn't need much water. Think like a pollinator, advises Susan: they want gardens which are homey, messy, and filled with nectar- and pollen-rich flowers. They need a range of bloom times, from willows and bulbs in early spring to summer flowering plants like monarda, and a range of flower shapes from trumpets to cups to clusters. Trees and shrubs provide shelter. Even container-grown annuals help. Shallow water sources are essential. Pebbles, rocks, or marbles in a birdbath offer perches and safety for pollinators needing a drink. Consider leaving some plant stems standing over winter. "We can live more sustainably on the Earth," says Susan. People with her drive and energy will help us along the way.


Healing Spaces with Julie Moore-Cantieni


After admiring the new Horticultural Society triptych, on display at the recent Country Living show, placing orders for T-shirts and hoodies, and hearing President Kathy Armstrong read a letter from the Ontario Horticultural Association congratulating us on reaching the age of 100, we learned about Plants and Spaces to Keep You Well from Julie Moore - Cantieni on April 29. Julie takes Being One in the Now as her motto but she is not a stationary contemplator, preferring to meditate in action.  A relaxing stroll, a drink of water, time spent in pleasant work:  all led Julie to the restorative power of gardens. During her studies, she learned that well-designed spaces around hospitals save money, enhance health, and improve the lives of patients with Alzheimer's Disease. Her creative life has embraced art, dance, poetry, music, and cinema, and she regards gardens as places of motion and colour as well. As a spa director, she found herself dealing with clients who wanted her to speed up their massages because their days were so packed with appointments that they had no time to relax. After moving to the country ("I need Fenelon Falls," she realized one day), she decided to put her principles into practice; namely, that nature calms the mind and relaxes the body, well-designed gardens soothe the emotions, and you can improve your well-being within the comfort of your own property. She listed the five considerations of a garden space.


1.     Needs. Why do I need a garden? Where and why was I relaxed? How can I recreate this feeling? Happy memories of a lace-wearing grandmother can be evoked with lacy foliage. The entrance to a garden sets the mood. Step into a garden after work with a glass of wine, says Julie. “If you find you need four glasses of wine, you need me!"


2.     Location and View. "Give me a space, I'll give you a garden," she says. Consider from where in your house you'll be able to see your garden.


3.     Plants You love. Many plants are said to have special powers, but the plants with true healing properties are the plants you love. If peonies remind you of your wedding bouquet, plant lots, but if they remind you of your bitter divorce, avoid them! If lavender is supposed to calm and relax but reminds you only of someone you hate, do without lavender. Meditation is about quieting the mind.


4.     Ideas and Concept. Julie showed us a garden she had designed which was " inspired by the creative and imaginary world of childhood." It featured the colour yellow, representations of squirrels, and a sculpture of a child, and was deeply symbolic to her clients. An early design for another client honoured a woman who had built her house in 1912 and paid tribute to her with a sacred garden in green and white. "Own who you are," says Julie. Consider the people who will frequent the space: sculptures in gardens for people with dementia must not be perceived as threatening or scary.


5.     Creative Design. Julie walked us through several plans of her award-winning gardens for Canada Blooms. She must place plant orders for her work months in advance, wait while it grows in greenhouses and is shipped to Ontario, and hope for the best when the time comes to put everything together. Following one year's theme of It's A Party, which featured a Corvette near her installation, Julie's use of a stunning stingray sculpture highlighted her garden. Her Midnight in Paris design won the 2018 Outstanding Medium Size Garden award and used a square orangerie planter like those of Versailles. She explained that the gardens must be built in only five days, must withstand ten days of traffic during Canada Blooms, and must be disassembled in only two days!


Asked to explain Zen, a great master slowly lifted his forefinger as his questioners watched quietly. “That is Zen," he said. It's about the gaps between the thoughts. Zen in a garden is about the right plant in the right place, mass plantings of one variety rather than a jumble of colours, the calming effect of an unbroken horizon, and understanding who you are and what makes you feel good.

Tropical Leaves
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