With all the wacky weather we have endured lately, what winter-weary Winnipeggers need is a bone-fide beginning to the growing season.
A Gardening Weekend is just the ticket.
Hosted by the Friends of the Assiniboine Park Conservatory, Gardening Weekend, May 8, 9 and 10, is an expanded version of last year's successful Gardening Saturday one-day seminar comprised of entertaining and informative horticultural demonstrations and lectures.
Gardeners will find lots of ways to celebrate the spring season starting with Friday night's garden party from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Assiniboine Park's lush Conservatory. Highlights of the evening include host and horticultural expert Ken Beattie's presentation "Pots and What Nots" a connoisseurs' guide to container gardening, with wine and delicious hors d'oeuvres catered by Star Grill. Tickets are $10 per person. Call 837-4324 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve tickets.
Beattie steps up to the podium again as keynote speaker on Saturday at 11 a.m. to present Sound Horticultural Practices -- Bringing out the Best in Both Garden and Gardener. Tickets are $40 for Friends members/$50 for non-members and include a light lunch at the venue, Canadian Mennonite University, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd. All-day offerings include plants and garden accessories for sale, displays and demonstrations from 55 vendors plus an exhibit of glass garden mosaics by artist Ursula Neufeld in the great hall. Of special note and exclusive to the Friends and available at their gift shop display is the Wedgie, dubbed "The World's Best Gardening Tool". You can even learn the right pre-gardening stretches and exercises with Dona Watts-Hutchings, physiotherapist from Strata Gym. General admission is just $5.
Twenty-four workshops and presentations run throughout the day on a variety of subjects from native plants, pruning, design, photography to gardening on a budget. (A complete schedule follows on page D9.) Pre-registration is required as space is limited. Admission for each is $10. Gardening Saturday will also feature a 45 minute panel discussion, What's New, What's Hot, moderated by Dorothy Dobbie with guests Carla Hrycyna of St. Mary's Nursery, Jan Pedersen of Shelmerdine Garden Centre, and Harry Schriemer of Schriemer's Home & Garden Showplace.
Of special interest to the guy gardeners in our midst is the opportunity to try out a rider mower in the outer courtyard offered by Husqvarna and step-by-step demonstration on how to construct a retaining wall with Monte Scholtz of Barkman Concrete. Husqvarna's Alvin Rueckert and AllCraft Mechanical's Randy Heubner will discuss and answer questions during their workshop on understanding small engines and choosing the right tool for the job. Jane Zoutman shares her expertise with her pond installation and maintenance workshop. Daryl Fowler of McMunn & Yates Building Supplies gives a workshop for constructing arbors and other garden structures that can add another dimension to your landscape.
Lawn rangers will want to hear Dave Hanson of Sage Garden Herbs reveal the Eco-Lawn, a "green" grass seed perfectly suited to our prairie climate. Eco-Lawn is a blend of carefully selected fescue grasses developed by Wild Flower Farms in Ontario. The seed is 100 per cent Zone 3 hardy, grows in sun or deep shade, is highly drought tolerant once established and has a beautiful green colour. Eco-Lawn does not require fertilizing, and can be mown or left uncut (but still look tidy). Eco-Lawn seed has been sown by thousands of lawn owners across North America and will be for sale at Hanson's display.
The weekend culminates with the much anticipated Mother's Day Plant Sale. For its 20th anniversary, this year's sale showcases the perennial stars of the past 20 years (all of the Perennial of the Year plants) plus the usual huge selection of hard-to-find, rare or exotic plants, new introductions and traditional favorites. I guarantee gardeners will be fighting for the new hardy Wisteria and other coveted specimens so you'll want to get there early for the best selection. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. under the big tent set up on Corydon Avenue at the south Zoo parking lot.