From the Vancouver
Sun: February 2006
of the class
This year's Sun Gardeners' School hits
new heights with a top-notch array of speakers
by Steve Whysall, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, February 17, 2006
We have an exceptional line up of speakers -- the best
program ever, in my opinion -- planned for you at this
year's Vancouver Sun Gardeners' School, which gets under
way next week at the B.C. Home and Garden Show.
Every year (and this will be the fifth year we've done
this) we try to put together a lecture series that covers
as broad a range of gardening topics as possible to
keep you informed about all the latest trends, gardening
ideas and techniques.
But the five-day program this time will have a distinctly
international flavour with speakers like Giles Clotworthy
and Christine North coming from England and Ciscoe Morris
and Steve Hootman coming from the U.S.
Yes, I know, you've never heard of them. Well, Ciscoe,
perhaps, who is one of Seattle's most popular gardening
celebrities. But they all have something very special
Giles Clotworthy, for example, worked for Britain's
National Trust for 30 years, and will tell us all about
the spectacular gardens of Cornwall.
Having visited the gardens of Trebah, Trelissick, Eden
and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, I know his lecture
will be full of stunning images and outstanding planting
Christine North is a gifted garden designer with more
than 30 years experience in horticulture. She won a
silver medal at the Hampton Court Flower Show for her
design work and is a specialist in topiary and pruning.
She has also worked on the planting and maintenance
of large herbaceous borders at various estate gardens
in the U.K. and Jersey.
Ciscoe Morris is a whirlwind personality with more
energy than a fairground. If you've ever seen him on
KING5 TV in Seattle you'll know what I am talking about.
What a phenomenal dynamo he is. And with such great
He will be giving two talks -- Spectacular Plants,
and Art in the Garden. Both will be as entertaining
as they are informative.
Steve Hootman is something of a rarity in the world
of horticulture today. He is one of a new breed of plant
hunters, following in the footsteps of the intrepid
greats from the past such as George Forrest, Ernest
Wilson, Kingdom Ward, and Joseph Hooker.
As the co-director and curator of the Rhododendron
Species Botanical Garden in Washington, he has taken
part in numerous expeditions to remote regions of Asia
in search of new and rare rhododendrons and other plants.
As well as being on the cutting edge of new plant discovery,
he is also one of the world top experts on plants in
the Ericaceae family, which comprises more than 3,500
species including many garden favourites such as heather,
pieris and rhododendron. His slides will take you into
areas of China you have never seen before as well as
showing you images of plants growing in their natural
Along with these guest speakers from abroad, we
also have some very engaging local garden experts such
as Gary Lewis, owner of Phoenix Perennials in Richmond,
Richard White, of Hazelwood Herb Farm on Vancouver Island,
and Peter Isaacson, pest management expert with Canadian
Nursery Landscape Association.
Lewis has been wowing members of garden clubs in
B.C. for the last few years with his information-packed
lectures. He has a knack for communicating his passion
for plants and sharing his extensive knowledge without
talking down to his audience. A talent.
Since opening his nursery in 2004, he has expanded
it to offer one of the largest and choicest selections
of perennials in the Lower Mainland. His talk is entitled:
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World: Botanically
Intriguing Options for Your Garden.
Richard White, who with his wife Jacynthe Dugas, owns
Hazelwood Herb Farm in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island,
knows more about growing herbs and how to make the best
use of them than anyone I know.
He also happens to be a very clear speaker with excellent
knowledge, all of which has been gained from actually
growing herbs in his own garden and experimenting with
them for cooking and making medicinal remedies.
At the nursery, he grows about 450 varieties of herbs,
many of which are harvested and used by restaurants
in Nanaimo. If herbs are your passion, Richard can help
you have more success in the garden.
Peter Isaacson will only be speaking once at the school,
but his message is an important and timely one -- all
about how to deal with the European chafer beetle, which
is causing so many lawns in the Lower Mainland to be
damaged by crows and raccoons. Isaacson is an expert
on the subject who wants to dispel some myths while
offering some practical tips on how to do battle with
the beetle in an environmentally friendly way.
Two other speakers at the Gardeners' School are both
familiar local personalities: Brian Minter, who really
needs no introduction as one of B.C.'s most knowledgeable
experts as well as a writer and broadcaster, who always
has his finger on the pulse of trends and planting ideas;
and John Schroeder, who, as owner of Heritage Perennials,
has travelled worldwide looking for new plants and always
offers many helpful insights into what's new and exciting
in the world of plants.
My contribution will be to show images of gardens that
have inspired me -- gardens in England and Italy as
well as here in B.C.
I will also be talking about plants and design ideas
that can easily be used to turn an ordinary backyard
into a delightful garden retreat.
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