2015 - 2016 PROGRAM

(Note: You can watch the recorded presentation by simply clicking on the  icon)

Sept 17th, 2015

David Sellars, “Chaos in the Rock Garden: Putting Theory into Practice”

A review of his talk at the 2009 Western Study Weekend reported by Kelley Leonard.. 

"David Sellars doesn’t mess around with cute little anecdotes. He goes straight to big, universal scientific truths. His presentation, entitled “Chaos in the Rock Garden: Putting Theory into Practice” gave me many “Aha” moments. David’s Power Point presentation was flawless and well paced. The information was presented with beautiful photographic examples along with really funny inserts of quotes by Reginald Farrar. Reginald Farrar was British, and sought to educate the gardening public on the “correct” way to build rock gardens. Without going too far astray, I will just say that we rock gardeners have come a long way from his stilted and awkward style. David’s examples of nature favoring increasing complexity in habitat, and how rock gardeners should follow nature’s lead were spot on. David used three examples of the levels of complexity. First, and the most simple was a brick wall, with the bricks lined up and the joints evenly spaced. Second came the bark of a tree with areas that appeared much more random, yet the overall effect had a pattern. Last were the random scribbles from a computer. Really random scribbles! David laid out the argument that there are more opportunities for plant life where rocks are in a seemingly chaotic jumble compared to evenly placed and spaced rocks. He had many photos to support his argument. Plants thrive more in fell fields and disturbed areas next to road cuts. The moraine areas at the bottom of rocky outcrops and other such areas of jumbled rocks can catch seeds, organic debris and snow/water to create the protected habitats that plants growing in extreme conditions need to survive and thrive.

Yet in all the chaos in nature, there are patterns. The small rock outcroppings echo the mountain peaks in the background. The sharp angled rocks show the same silhouette as the mountain range they are found on. So, in chaos, there are patterns, you just need take the time to look.

It was a beautiful and rational talk. As an artist who sews, paints, draws, makes jewelry and gardens, I can attest to David’s insights as being the key to creating objects that please the human eye. We instinctively know there is a “rightness” in chaos. And in that chaos, if you look very carefully, you will see the patterns."   

Oct 15th, 2015

Harold Greer

For many of us in the Rhododendron world, American Rhododendron Society Gold Medalist and Past President Harold Greer has been our long-time guru. His books “Greer's Guidebook to Available Rhododendrons” and “Rhododendron Hybrids” co-authored with Homer Salley are our go-to references at shows and plant sales. Harold says, "I have been around the Genus Rhododendron for more than 60 years...and have introduced many rhododendrons and azaleas to the trade.” From 1954, as a young lad, to 1972 Harold worked with his dad, first selling a few rhodos on the side and later as a full-on nursery. Since 1972, when his dad died, Harold has made it his business.

This year he will begin a new venture at Greer Gardens in Eugene, Oregon, by converting part of his 14 acre nursery into a planned community development he calls “an up-scale retirement village and retirement arbo- retum (for people and plants).” Harold with his wife Nancy will still live on the property and sell some plants.

Harold is a renowned international speaker, well known for his superb photograph and his informative and entertaining programs. Topic to be announced

Nov 19h, 2015

Sean Rafferty  

Sean will be guiding us through his exploration of the Indian Himalayas, a 2014  trip led by the inestimable Steve Hootman. 

Jan 21st, 2016 John Weagle – “60 + Years of Hybridizing in Atlantic Canada”

John Weagle gardens in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the early 70’s good friends and gardeners introduced him to more exotic plants and the fateful joys of hybridizing rhododendrons and azaleas. He has been breeding rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas ever since. His main interest is the Family Ericaceae which does so wonderfully well on the misty coast of Nova Scotia. John belongs to many societies and his interests include bamboos, cyclamen, nerines, magnolias, hellebores, asarums, alpines, sempervivums, galanthus and especially Shortia spp. - you get the picture. With the help of his skilled partner Ken Shannik, who operates Insigne Gardens, they maintain four gardens - two city gardens, a woodland garden 100kms. from the city near Lunenburg and have started a new one in a very mild area on an island near Yarmouth some 320 kilometers southwest of Halifax in Zone 7b. They maintain a vast collection of plants, hardy and tender; at last count this totalled 75 pages of fine print! The whole collection he owes to the great generosity of his many contacts worldwide. Now retired, he worked for a wholesale horticultural company in Halifax and a nursery in British Columbia. He is usually found re-potting, digging, planting or stumbling over far too many plants, tubs, troughs and cold-frames. John is a recipient of the Leslie Hancock Award and The Hybridizer’s Award of the Rhododendron Society of Canada. A well-known plantsman he has spoken across Canada, the USA, at the International Rhododendron Symposium in Bergen, Norway and at the Botanic Garden in Tromsø, Norway.

Feb 18th, 2016 Dennis Bottemiller - The Secret to Growing Species Rhododendrons  
Mar 17th, 2016

Shannon Berch - Soil Biology and Rhododendrons

Shannon is a research scientist with the BC Ministry of the Environment.  Shannon will present an overview of soil organisms and the roles that they play in soil. Then, she will focus on mycorrhizal fungi, especially those of ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons, and how they affect growth and productivity. She will conclude with observations on how soils can be managed to encourage beneficial soil organism.

Apr 21st, 2016

Gary Lewis of Pheonix Perennials, ”Hot New Plants”

Phoenix Perennials is among the first nurseries in Canada -- and even the world -- to offer new cultivars developed by the best international breeders. Gary will give you the inside track on recent new cutting edge garden plants and talk about where plant breeding is heading in the future. If you love new plants, you won't want to miss this talk ! Gary holds a Master’s of Science degree in Plant Ecology from the University of British Columbia.

He became the owner of Phoenix Perennials in 2004, since then expanding the nursery to include one of the largest and most exciting selections of perennials in Canada. He strives to include cutting edge new perennials, tried and true garden stalwarts, and the rare and unusual in his plant offerings. He is the Canada Region Director for the Perennial Plant Association, on the Advisory Committee for E- Flora BC and also serves on the Perennial and Bulb Selection Committee of Great Plant Picks.

In 2013 Gary was selected as Communicator of the Year by the BC Landscape and Nursery Association. In both 2012 and 2013 Phoenix Perennials won the category of “Growing Gardeners”, part of the Canadian Garden Centre of the Year Awards. These awards recognize Gary’s work to educate and inspire the gardening public. In 2014 Gary was selected as one of Canada’s “Top 10 Horticultural Professionals Under 40” by Greenhouse Canada magazine. Phoenix Perennials was selected for the 2015 “Revolutionary 100” honouring the 100 best cutting edge garden centres in North America. 

May 19th, 2016

Doug Justice

Doug will lead us through the UBC Botanic Garden with a focus on the Carolinian Forest. It has grown in nicely since breaking sod 8 years ago.