By Susan Watson
Special to Advance-Times
About 100 Ontario horticultural society members from across the counties of Bruce, Grey and Huron were treated to a memorable day at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex in Wingham on Saturday, April 27.
Eighteen horticultural societies that make up District 8 of the Ontario Horticultural Association were present at the meeting.
Messages of welcome were brought by Neil Vincent, reeve of North Huron and Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron-Bruce, along with Suzanne Hanna who represents the Ontario Horticulture Association. The dignitaries and society executives were piped into the hall by Archie Purdon who played the bagpipes.
After the morning’s business was completed, members were treated to guest speaker Suzanne Hanna, director of Seeds of Diversity Canada, who spoke on “the seedy side of gardening.” She encouraged everyone to collect, save and use their own seeds.
“Not only does it save money, but it protects biodiversity,” said Hanna. She noted it’s good to save as many plants as possible, and preserve the stories that go with them – stories like “mortgage lifter tomatoes,” a meaty, heavy tomato developed by a mechanic in the 1940. He sold them for a dollar each, and used the money to pay his mortgage. “We need to keep these stories alive,” she said. And she further noted not all the discoveries of wonderful new varieties of plants are made in labs.
Seeds of Diversity is a Canadian volunteer organization that aims to conserve the biodiversity and traditional knowledge of food crops and garden plants. The Seeds of Diversity group organizes “seedy Saturdays” where gardeners can exchange seeds and learn about collecting and saving seeds.
After lunch Master Gardeners Susan Beatty, Pat Rodney and Ann Inglis opened the floor to gardening questions. Questions included the removal of goutweed, stopping the spread of weeds without aggressive herbicides and growing healthy roses suitable for our climate. A great deal of laughter was generated when it was suggested a vacuum cleaner could be used to remove dandelion heads before they spread.
Local businesses provided a bustling market area of garden products. The vendors who displayed their wares were Oh So Purdy from Bluevale, the Huron Bay Co-op (Belgrave), Fears Apiaries, Sweets N’ Treats, Riverbend Nursery, Bush Art and Spring Breeze Nursery from Auburn.
Also featured at the meeting were the 134 entries by 15 participants in this year’s photography contest, and the entries in the art and poster contest.
Anyone interested in horticultural society membership, the society’s projects or attending a meeting can contact Verna Steffler at 519-357-1184.
– With notes by Pauline Kerr