President's Message - 2012

By Heather Brenneman
As I write this in early December we already have a thick blanket of snow. While we complain about the wind and cold, our gardens are enjoying nature's insulation. When the warmth of the sun returns buds and blooms will be ready to be coaxed from the soil to reappear in all their splendor.
The Saskatchewan Perennial Society was very active again this year thanks to the high energy and enthusiasm of its Board of Directors and its many member volunteers. We reached a membership of 160 this year and our events and activities were well attended.
The Board of Directors was busy again this year. In addition to organizing the various events and activities of the Society, several board committees were formed to create written guidelines for organizing these events and activities. Guidelines now exist for the plant exchanges, the plant and bulb sales, and the garden tours. In addition, descriptions of the duties of each of the board executive positions are being developed. This documentation will facilitate the orientation of new board members and ensure continuity in the running of the Society as the composition of the board changes over time.
Over the past couple of years we have had requests for a new website. A committe of the board consisting of myself, Patricia Meszaros and Bernadette Vangool met throughout the year and is now pleased to announce the launching of our new website at The site was developed using the free Google Sites program. Check it out! We wish to thank Ramona Brenholen for her work as webmaster of the previous website. The new site will be managed by a three person standing committee of the board.
Our monthly gardening presentations in the fall and winter are always inspiring. In January Judy Harley from Shellbrook introduced "For the Love of Lilies...The History of Honeywood", a video of the recently performed play about the work of Dr. A.J.(Bert) Porter which is now preserved at the Honeywood Heritage Nursery. At February's Annual General Meeting we watched the video "The Renegade Scientist: Diana Beresford-Kroeger" documenting the renowned physician and scientist who promotes principles of ecological "bioplanning" in her gardening. In March we were visited by Corinne Hannah from Calgary who delighted us with a beautiful selection of "The Best from the Calgary Zoo Gardens". In October we were treated to a travelogue on the Gardens of Scotland presented by Bernadette Vangool. And in November, our own Sara Williams gave us a peek at her new book by showing us "New and Old Drought Tolerant Perennials". These events are open to the public. Thank you to Lori Horky who organizes the refreshments offered at these and many of our other events.
The Saskatchewan Perennial Society has a lending library which is housed at St. James church on Dufferin Avenue. The library is open during the monthly gardening presentations. We have a large number of books, some of which may be useful to those in the Master Gardener programme or to anyone wanting to learn more about gardening. The library holdings will be listed on the new website. Thank you to Margot Hawke who has served as our librarian for several years.
Each March a large number of member volunteers help us provide a presence at Gardenscape. There we promote the benefits and activities of the Society and sell memberships. Thanks to Bernadette Vangool for organizing volunteers.
The atmosphere at the Spring and Fall Plant Exchanges is always full of excitement. These exchanges provide a way to increase diversity in our gardens using plants proven hardy by gardeners in our area. This was the second year that we also offered small selections of hardy spring perennials and fall bulbs for sale. The selections included varieties not usually found in our local gardening shops and were available at bargain prices. A special thanks to Sandra Rose and Sara Williams for organizing the volunteers who make these events such a success. Thanks too, to our "perennial experts" who help identify "Mystery" plants.
We held three garden tours this past summer; the June tour was organized by Sandra Rose; the July tour by Karen Larson; and the August tour by Sara Williams. About 50 people participated in each tour. Each of the gardens had something unique to offer and I, for one, came away with several ideas for enhancing my garden. And the gardens were all beautiful! Even in the pouring rain!! Thank you to all the gardeners who invited us to share their beautiful yards.
The Board and members of the Society were kept busy through the summer with "Labour and Learn" work bees at the gardens at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. In preparation for the 100th anniversary celebrations of the park, which will be held in May 2013, we revised the Heritage Rose Garden and added daylilies and tulips to some of the beds to ensure a splash of colour all year throughout the growing season. Labour and Learn parties mulched the main garden beds to help in controlling weeds and retaining moisture. We also moved peonies to sunnier locations and in the fall added some bulbs in the south beds. We had large numbers of volunteers this year, making light work of the tasks. Thanks to Bernadette Vangool for organizing the Labour and Learn activities.
As a partner of the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo the board of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society authorized a donation of $1000 to the Forestry Farm Centennial Committee to be used towards celebrations.
The Saskatchewan Perennial Society has provided a weekly gardening column to the "Saskatoon Sun" for many years. This year saw some changes in the publication of the column as the "Sun" was replaced by "Bridges"; the column is now more widely distributed and is available online. Thank you to Erl Svendsen who continues to edit the column which provides valuable information on a variety of gardening topics. The articles for the column are written by members of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society. If you would like to write for the column please contact Erl (