Apr 30, 2019
Please enjoy this report of our past meetings
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.
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 canada.org 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.