President's Message - 2011

By Heather Brenneman

We are fast approaching the end of the year as the days grow shorter and colder, reliably, the sun will return and the days lengthen an warm again. We had a wonderful summer and fall and many gardens and blooms were especially beautiful. The Saskatchewan Perennial Society also enjoyed another successful year.
Many of our ten Board members were new this year and we had a lot of learning to do. Fortunately we also had the collective memories of some experienced voices to help ensur continuity in the Society's traditions. I want to thank the members of the Board for their enthusiasm and dedication to the Society, many of them also volunteer at multiple Society activities troughout the year.
A major undertaking for the Board was the revision of the Society's bylaws. A committee was struck which reviewed a generic draft of bylaws for small non-profit corporations prepared by one of our members, Kay Robertson, LL.B. This draft which closely mirrors the relevant requirements set out in the most recent Saskatchewan Non-Profit Corporations Act was adapted easily for us. The Board approved the bylaws at it's November 1st meeting. The membership will be asked to ratify these bylaws at the 2012 AGM.
We have settled into our new home at St James Church on Dufferin Avenue: the library is now stored there and our public presentations are offered every fourth Wednesday of the month from October to March. Although some familiar faces from our Tuesday meetings are missing, the Wednesday meetings are well attended. We were treated to some wonderful presentations this year, as usual. Bernadette Vangool enlightened us about the life and work of Karl Foerster (1874-1970) who bred winter hardy perennial in Germany despite very difficult political realities during WWII and the Cold War. Chet Neufeld introduced us to many 'Native Plants' which can be grown in our prairie gardens. Sara Williams sang and danced about chemical free gardening based on her newly co-authored book (with Hugh Skinner):'Gardening Naturally'. Brenda Korchinski delighted us with 'Flowers and Colour for Your Fall Border'. And David Vanstone travelled all the way from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba to engage us in a lively discussion about 'New Trends in Hardy Perennials'. The colourful pictures that accompanied all of these presentations brought reminders of gardening delight amidst the long winter season. Thank you to the volunteers who ensured that these evenings ran smoothly and that we were well nourished with refreshments while we visited.
We recruited volunteers for Gardenscape by email this year and had an overwhelming response. Attendance at the show was down a bit this year but it still provided a good opportunity for us to inform the public about the activities of the Society. Thank you to all the volunteers!
The spring and fall plant exchanges continue to be highlights of the Perennial Society Calendar! The annual plant sale at the spring plant exchange was again a success. The plants, brought in from Vanstone Nurseries in Manitoba, represented several new varieties of hardy perennials at great prices. The fall bulb sale, with bulbs ordered from Van Noort in British Columbia, was a first this year. Both sales 'sold out' and were successful fundraisers for the Society. Thanks to Sara Williams for selecting the plants and bulbs. Thanks too to Sara and Bernadette Vangool for fetching the plants from Manitoba, and to Karen Larson for joining me in sorting and pricing the over 2300 bulbs! If anyone would like to offer suggestions for varieties of perennials and bulbs for 2012, please contact Sara or any member of the plant exchange committees.
Garden tours are also favourites with members. The SPS held two garden tours this year, one in July and one in August, organized by Leslie Sanders. Leslie has efficiently organized garden tours for several years but is now passing on her garden lists. Thanks for a great job, Leslie! Thank you to those who opened their beautiful gardens for our enjoyment.
I participated in my first labour and learn this year and I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside fellow Perennial Society gardeners pulling weeds! It was a good time to get to know one another and the weeding went very quickly with many hands. If you haven't yet been out to the Meditation and Heritage Rose Gardens at the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo to join in the work or even just to enjoy the beauty of the plantings, I strongly urge you to do so in the coming year!
At the Board's direction, Leslie Sanders and Grace Berg conducted a walk-about review of the Heritage Rose Garden in September. Leslie prepared a report that recommends that the Saskatchewan Perennial Society begin a major revision of the garden which has become overgrown in places. We will be looking for volunteers to co-ordinate this project and to help with the work itself. Please contact any member of the Board if you are interested in helping out. Thanks for your time and expertise, Leslie and Grace.
The SPS again provided a gardening column to the Saskatoon Sun and other publications in Saskatchewan. Thanks to Erl Svendsen who is the current editor for this column. Many people look to this column for valuable information on a variety of gardening topics. Several Society members have written pieces for the column and if anyone would like to make a contribution, please contact Erl
Finally, thank you to two of our long time volunteers: James Wood who e-mails the Society's monthly notices, and Ramona Brenholen who maintains the website. Thank you to ALL who have volunteered time and energy to the Saskatchewan Perennial Society in 2011.