October 15, 2014
Summer highlights
Dean McClellan and a crew from the Saugeen Shores First Nations did an amazing job at building the dry stone steps at LO home office at the entrance to Vanden Bussche Irrigation.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Tony DiGiovanni I know it’s a cliché, however, it is incredible how fast the time goes.  Summer is already over.

We just finished our Snowposium to help members prepare for winter. All of our chapters are busy planning the fall schedules.  Garden Expo is already here (Oct. 22 and 23) and Congress is approaching quickly. This month I wanted to provide a few highlights.  

If you visited the LO office lately you will have noticed a number of dry stone walls and features. Landscape Ontario is working with the British Dry Stone Walling Association to develop a Canadian certification program. The features on the grounds of your home office are part of the certification requirements. Dean McLellan has been the main driver for this project. Dean and his fellow dry stone-walling enthusiasts are quickly bringing the ancient art of dry stone walling to the forefront. The future is bright.   

Dean and a crew from the Saugeen Shores First Nations did an amazing job at building the dry stone steps at the front entrance.  Upper Canada Stone supplied the stone, and has been an incredible supporter of the dry stone revival movement.

The second Grey to Green Conference was held this summer.  The purpose of the Conference is to raise awareness for the economic, environmental, health and social benefits for natural infrastructure. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities organized the conference. Landscape Ontario was one of the sponsors. This year the focus was on the health benefits of green space, landscapes, gardens and plants. It was great to see health professionals on the program and in the audience. Our message about the value of natural infrastructure is starting to get through to a whole different audience.  

This summer the board of the Agricultural Adaptation Council toured LO member Verbinnen Nurseries. Landscape Ontario is a member of the Agricultural Adaptation Council. Many of you may not be aware that the farm gate value of plant material (trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, potted plants, etc.) is over $1-billion. This is higher than corn, wheat, soybeans, fruits and vegetables. This fact is starting to be recognized by the traditional agricultural sector and we are very pleased that one of our members, Kristin Ego MacPhail, is now chair of the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

The Specialist High School Major (SHSM) program is changing lives.  It recognizes and values different learning styles and allows students to try out different occupations in Grade 11 and 12. One of the occupations is Landscape/Horticulture. This summer the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, visited Al Nason’s landscape program at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Burlington. You could tell the minister was impressed, as Al enthusiastically described the program. Al invited two former students to the event. One student went on to complete the Fanshawe College program, while the other graduated from the apprenticeship program. Both are now enjoying a rewarding career in the landscape industry.
man tapping a large tree with a rubber malletJeff McMann uses a rubber mallet on an ancient beech tree to see if it is hollow. One of his jobs is to inspect all trees on the Mount Pleasant Cemetery properties for safety reasons.
woman and man talkingThe board of the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) toured LO member Verbinnen Nurseries. AAC Chair Kristin Ego McPhail talks to Alex Verbinnen about seeding strategies and containers.
Recently, I was at the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture for the Legacy Garden opening. I was pleased to meet another of Al Nason’s students who was in his second year of the three-year program. The SHSM program is doing an excellent job at steering students into careers in our field.

This summer the Legacy Garden at Niagara Parks School of Horticulture celebrated its completion. Landscape Ontario supported the project. The idea was conceived as a 75th year anniversary gift from the alumni to mark the start of Niagara Parks School of Horticulture and Ontario Parks Association.  

The Alumni took the opportunity to bestow its Life Member Award upon Tom Laviolette, former superintendent of the school and one of the main drivers (along with Tom Clancy) behind the Legacy Garden project.  

LO member Jeff McMann is now the chief arborist at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Jeff invited our staff to visit the cemetery this summer. If you have not been, you need to visit. The cemetery is located in downtown Toronto, and actually predates the formation of the city. It is one of the best arboreta in Canada with trees and shrubs from all over the world. Many of them are labelled. When I was a student, our teacher used to bring us to the cemetery for plant identification classes. I did the same with my students when I was a teacher.  

This summer we have also been preparing for the Landscape Ontario garden at Canada Blooms. Shawn Gallaugher volunteered to design the garden. This is fitting because Shawn specializes in a concept he calls “Otium.” Essentially, an Otium looks like a garden that can be utilized as an outdoor exercise area. This fits the “Let’s Play” theme of Canada Blooms. The theme was chosen to complement the energy and excitement of the Pan Am Games. This year we are sharing our space with the Canadian Wildlife Federation.  Dean McLellan and other dry stone craftsmen are also back. Dean is envisioning a real rock climbing wall as part of the concept. The LO garden at Canada Blooms has always enjoyed the participation of hundreds of members. It is community building at its best. If you are interested in helping out, let me know. We need all the support we can get.   

In the last issue of Landscape Ontario magazine, we featured the Mark Cullen Scholarship Challenge. We are pleased to announce that Unilock has sponsored a Landscape Design Scholarship for $10,000.  We also have word that another member is making a sizeable donation to the Foundation. The challenge is working.    
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tony@landscapeontario.com.