President's Message - 2013

By Heather Brenneman

The 2014 gardening season seems difficult to imagine in these very cold, short days of winter- especially this year! However, we can be certain that spring will arrive just as we know that the days are already lengthening.

The membership of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS) continues to grow and our numbers have now reached about 180, an increase of 12.5% from last year. I’m sure this is connected to the current enthusiasm for gardening generally but I believe that it is also due in no small part to the commitment and energy of the members of our board who organize the many successful events of the Society’s calendar along with many additional member volunteers. The protocols developed by the Board last year were very useful in organizing events this year.

Every year the Perennial Society provides PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL PRESENTATIONS during the fall and winter months. Attendance ranges from about 25 to 50 people who sometimes brave inclement weather to treat themselves to glimpses of gardening splendors from the past, other parts of the world or new plant offerings. January brought Hugh Skinner from Manitoba to share “My Favorite Perennials”: awesome! At the AGM in February Russ Brunt told us about making maple syrup from Manitoba maples in “Leprechaun Taps: A Maple Syrup Story”: delicious samples! In March Barabara Eichendorf shared her knowledge of “Lilies”: beautiful! In October we heard Ellen Sawchuk talk about “U. of S. Introductions, Cherries, Haskaps, etc.”: scrumptious specimens! And finally in November, Moira Moser showed us behind the scenes of the “City Flower Barrel Program”: pretty pots! A special thank you to Lori Horky who organized the refreshments offered at these events and many others.

The Saskatchewan Perennial Society’s LENDING LIBRARY is updated annually by Margot Hawke, a member volunteer. The library is open during the monthly gardening presentations.

GARDENSCAPE at the end of March is an early harbinger of spring. Bernadette Vangool again organized members to volunteer at this event to promote the benefits and activities of the Society and sell memberships.

The SPRING AND FALL PLANT EXCHANGES are always exciting. For the second year we also offered small selections of hardy spring perennials and fall bulbs for sale. These were ordered from wholesalers in Manitoba and British Columbia so that we could provide them at bargain prices. A special thanks to Sandra Rose for organizing the volunteers who make these events such a success. Thanks too, to our perennial experts, Brenda Korchinski, Mary Jean Roy, and Sharon Lanigan, who help identify “mystery” plants.

Opportunities for members to learn gardening tips and to contribute to the beauty of the gardens at the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo are available about every three weeks during the growing season through “LABOUR AND LEARN”. These work bees are held on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings. We worked hard to ensure that the gardens were beautiful for the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Forestry Farm and Zoo in May 2013. We planted new roses and mulched the south beds of the Heritage Rose Garden and added perennials to the Robin Smith Meditation Garden. Our plan for next year is to cull some of the more invasive perennials and replace them with better behaved varieties. Thanks to Bernadette Vangool for organizing us at these events.

We organized only two GARDEN TOURS this past summer. In the past our August tour competed with the Nest Garden Tour which raises money for services to new immigrants, so we decided to ask members to support the Nest event. Our June tour was organized by Pat Chubb, Irene Knott and Bernadette Vangool, and some of these gardens were featured the SPS weekly gardening column in Bridges. The July garden tour, organized by Bernadette Vangool, began with the Forestry Farm yard and gardens and moved on to other beautifully kept locations. Thank you to all the gardeners who shared their beautiful yards with us!

This summer we were especially proud that one of our founding members and long-time board member, SARA WILLIAMS, was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame. Her nomination was sponsored by the Saskatchewan Perennial Society, the Saskatoon Horticultural Society and the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education at the U. of S. In February 2013 Sara retired from the Perennial Society Board for the last time. Her many years of support to this organization were honoured at a potluck dinner in late August.

The Society’s weekly GARDENING COLUMN has been edited by Erl Svendsen since 2010. Some of the titles from the past year were: “Growing your own melonhead” , “Sea Buckthorn: This ‘glued on’ berry makes a great jelly”, and “Mistletoe is for more than kissing”. The articles for the column are written by members and published in Bridges and other small provincial papers. If you would like to write for the column, please contact Erl

If you haven’t already done so, please check out our WEBSITE at It includes pages about: the Society’s calendar, the gardens at the Forestry Farm Zoo, the history of the Society, gardening columns, “news” showing items for sale by the Society and various other stories about the year’s events, a list of our library holdings, membership form, and a contact list of members of the Board. The website is maintained and regularly updated by a committee of three Board members: Pat Chubb, Irene Knott and Bernadette Vangool.

Thank you to all who contribute to the success of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society!