February 20, 2017: Donna Balzar “No Space? No Problem!”

6:45 p.m.       Doors open
7:30 p.m.       Announcements
~ 7:45 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
~ 9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Question period with our Guest Speaker

Our very special guest speaker Monday Feb. 20 features Donna Balzer, award winning HGTV host of Bugs & Blooms, a regular CBC radio guest in Alberta and a home gardener who says she makes mistakes so you don’t have to. Donna will speak to us on maximizing space in smaller gardens, by creatively cultivating  in vertical gardens. You can grow more food more efficiently, and multiply your yields faster than breeding bunnies! Donna is also the co-author of the popular, NO GUFF Vegetable Gardening,  with Steven Biggs. Their “she-says, he- says” banter shows there is more than one way to slice a tomato and turns growing gardens into a really fun process. Their gardening journey started out in Montreal, spending some quality time in Alberta and Qualicum Beach.  With Donna’s 30 years of horticultural experience, her tips,techniques and hand outs will make this evening a “can’t miss” event. Donna is currently writing the Gardener’s Gratitude Journal, and Under Cover:Grow Food Faster, and is a contributor to Groundbreaking Food Gardens by Nikki Jabbour. Donna will have copies of her book available for $25 cash, or $27 (including GST) if paying by credit card.

The doors at the Courtenay Filberg open at 6:45 pm, with our Guest Speaker starting around 7:45pm. Come early to fill out your $20 annual membership form (family $30) and join us to reap the many, many benefits of being a Comox Valley Horticultural Society member. Guests are welcome for a $5 charge.

January 16, 2017: Gordon Mackay, “Pruning Trees and Shrubs: the how, when and …WHY! “

6:30 p.m.    Doors open
7:30 p.m.    Announcements and Business
8:00 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period

On Monday January 16, Comox Valley Horticultural Society welcomes Gordon Mackay, from Alba Plants in Cowichan Bay, with his very timely topic of Pruning Trees and Shrubs: the how, when and …WHY! Mackay will speak on pruning techniques, covering do’s and don’ts, with special reference to fruit trees, and summer and winter tasks. Gordon’s passion for all things green began in Glasgow, studying at the Threave School of Gardening, where he was mentored by Magnus Ramsay and achieved the top student award for plant identification. In 1994 he was invited to Vancouver Island to establish a specialty plant nursery, Alba Plants, and decided this was the place to be. He is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, and instructor at the Horticultural Centre for the Pacific in Victoria.

Our doors at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay open at 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 17, 2016: AGM & Kem Luther – “What does it MEAN? mycorrhizas, mushrooms, and plants”

6:45 p.m.    Meet ‘n’ Greet
7:15 p.m.    Announcements, Business, Election of Officers – starting 15 min. early!
8:00 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period

The Comox Valley Horticultural Society welcomes guest speaker Kem Luther to their October 17 Annual General meeting. The guest presentation will follow the AGM.

Kem Luther

In his recent book, Boundary Layer (Oregon State University Press, 2016), Kem Luther focuses on regions that lie between large, stable systems, showing how they develop their own rules and practice a logic that belongs to neither of the bounding systems. One of the in-between systems discussed in his book is the strange world of plant/fungal symbionts.

In this slide talk, Kem overviews the science of mycorrhizal mushrooms and explores how research on mycorrhizas could shift our understanding species and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest.

Kem Luther grew up in the Nebraska Sandhills, studied at Cornell, the University of Chicago (PhD) and University of Toronto (MSc). He taught at Eastern Mennonite University; Sheridan College where he was dean of a joint program in Communication, Culture, and Information Technology with the University of Toronto; at York University; and the University of Toronto.

After living for several years on Ontario’s Grand River, the naturalist/writer moved to the southern tip of Vancouver Island in 2004. For the last two decades, Kem has focused on writing interpretive articles and books. He is the author of Cottonwood Roots, The Next Generation Gap, and Boundary Layer. (For more information about Kem Luther and his latest book, check out his website at http://stegnon.com.)

Copies of his books will be available for sale at the meeting.

The CVHS welcomes all those who are interested in gardening and the natural world, from beginners to master gardeners. Non-member fee is $5.

Boundary Layer - Kem Luther

Sept. 26, 2016: Gwen Odermatt – “The Secret Life of my Garden: Gardening to build habitat for beneficial wildlife”

6:45 p.m.    Meet ‘n’ Greet
7:30 p.m.    Announcements and Business
8:00 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period

The Comox Valley Horticultural Society is pleased to welcome guest speaker Gwen Odermatt of Langley at their September 26 meeting. She will be speaking about attracting beneficial wildlife to the garden.

Gwen OdermattGwen is a passionate life-long gardener. Her keen interest in the harmony between plants, insects and the diversity of the natural world led her to obtain a degree in science at the University of Alberta. For the past twenty years she has operated “Petals and Butterflies”, a farm nursery that specializes in growing plants which attract butterflies and other wildlife into the garden.

Gwen is on the Selection Committee for Great Plant Picks and teaches the Advanced Master Gardener Right Plant/Right Place course. She is a member of the Vancouver’s Hardy Plant Group and a long-term member of the South Surrey Garden Club. Her own garden has been open to local, national and international tours.

Everyone who is interested in growing plants which will attract beneficial wildlife to their gardens are welcome to join the CVHS meeting on September 26.  Non-member fee is $5.

August 15, 2016: Karen Myskiw – “Elements of Xeriscape Gardening”

6:45 p.m.    Meet ‘n’ Greet
7:30 p.m.    Announcements and Business
8:00 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period

Join the Comox Valley Horticultural Society on Monday, August 15 to learn about the elements and principles of Xeriscape Gardening with speaker Karen Myskiw.

Though we live in an area which is often plentiful with water, we do experience periods of water restrictions. Karen promises to demonstrate different water-saving techniques for gardening, including selecting native and well-adapted plant species, and planting methods that will reduce the need to use copious amounts of water in the garden.

Karen Myskiw, (BHE, BLarch, BEd) is a designer and educator whose passions integrate practices of ecological gardening, preparing local foods, art-making, global travel and writing. JardinsDesigns is her consulting practice with a focus on the seamless integration of indoor and outdoor living rooms to create an atmosphere of wellness.


Updated on August 8, 2016

June 20, 2016: Margot Moser – “Native Plant Beauties for Small Space Gardens”

6:45 p.m.    Meet ‘n’ Greet
7:30 p.m.    Guest Speaker Presentation
8:30 p.m.    Announcements and Business
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up

Margot was born with a trowel in her hand and has no intention of ever putting it down.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until she took Master Gardener courses 20 years ago that she realized she should have pursued a career in horticulture rather than teaching.

The Master Gardener manual inspired Margot to design a perpetual garden journal called ‘My Growing Gardenbook’ which has sold over 8000 copies across Canada and the US in garden centres and gift shops.

Her particular interest in native plants began early as she explored the woods near her home in (then rural) Burnaby and has contributed to her preference for natural-looking landscapes.

For a list of Margot’s recommended native plants, please click on this link:
Native Plant List – Margot Moser June 2016

Erythronium revolutum

May 16, 2016: Dianne Gaines – “Small Fruits in the Garden”

6:45 p.m.    Meet ‘n’ Greet
7:30 p.m.    Announcements and Club business
8:00 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period

Dianne will be giving a slide presentation on some wonderful types of small fruits to grow in our gardens, and sharing valuable information on how to grow them.

Small Fruits - Kiwi issai

Some background about our speaker…

Her first recollection of gardening dates back to age 4, helping her mother sow pea seeds in the vegetable garden. And so began her learning experience on the importance of gardening, gradually understanding being a gardener is more than a simple hobby, it is a way of life. Lucky for her, her parents nurtured her budding gardening career and built her a greenhouse when she was still in grade school.

Small Fruits - Raspberries

During the mid ‘80s, Dianne and her mother joined the Langley Garden Club. Here she blossomed further, garnering more knowledge about plants and gardening, and at the same time, sharing her passion for her garden with like-minded people.

All of this passion led Dianne into continuing her education at the university level, undertaking a major in microbiology with a minor in botany. Following graduation, she was thrilled to join the team at Van Noort Bulb Company’s head office in Langley, B.C. where she currently is the Manager of Marketing and Packaging.

Small Fruits - Gooseberry

Van Noort Bulb Company is a wholesale supplier of spring and summer flowering bulbs, perennials, small fruits, shrubs, and roses to garden centres, growers, and landscapers across Canada. We are very fortunate Dianne will be bringing some of the small fruit plants to our meeting this month.

If you love your fruits, you will not want to miss this sale and presentation.

April 18, 2016: Members Plant Sale & Jennifer Lipka – “Native Pollinators: Mason Bees & Bumblebees”

6:30 p.m.    Meet ‘n’ Greet & Plant sale begin
7:30 p.m.    Announcements and Business
8:00 p.m.    Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.    Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period. Final minutes of plant sale.

Monday, April 18th is our Members Plant Sale! Several of our members will have tables loaded with some very special plants from their gardens. You are pretty assured of finding a treasure amongst so much greenery. Plant sale starts at 6:30 p.m.! Bring a box!

Native PollinatorsAlso on this night, we welcome the Comox Valley Horticultural Society’s guest speaker, Jennifer Lipka, to learn about the research on environmental conditions affecting pollinators. Her presentation, “Native Pollinators: Mason Bees and Bumblebees”, will highlight the different kinds of native bees, wasps, and other beneficial insects. Jennifer will share ideas on what to plant and how to help the pollinators thrive in our gardens. Rest assured, native pollinators and beneficial insects really do need our help!

Jennifer has worked and studied with Brian Campbell, of Blessed Bee Farm, to better the lives of bees around the lower mainland. She is currently attending school for Sustainable Geography at UBC. She was a West Coast Seeds organic garden advisor for almost two years and continues to share her passion for helping people grow gardens organically and to support bee-friendly environments.

Remember: the evening fun begins a little earlier this month! Plan to be at the Hall at 6:30 so you have time to browse the plant tables, the Information Table, Opportunity Table, the Grow ‘n’ Show display…and get your Raffle Tickets for some neat prizes. You will also want to have a few minutes to talk “gardening” to your friends before the speaker presentation!


Posted on April 3, 2016

March 21, 2016: Joan Carrigan – “Making Basketry with Materials from the Garden”

6:45 p.m.   Meet ‘n’ Greet
7:30 p.m.   Announcements and Business
8:00 p.m.   Guest Speaker presentation
9:00 p.m.   Meeting wraps up after Guest Speaker question period

The Comox Valley Horticultural Society welcomes Joan Carrigan as guest speaker to the March 21 meeting.

Joan is a basket-maker with a focus on exploring ways of weaving with plant materials. Her presentation will cover how cultures throughout the world for millennia have used available vegetation such as barks, vines, roots, and grasses to make baskets. She will highlight how she sustainably harvests and prepares local plant materials on Salt Spring Island to make both functional and sculptural baskets.

For the past 25 years, Joan Carrigan has been making, studying, and teaching basketry. Her passion for baskets has led her to explore many different techniques and materials, both traditional and sculptural. Her inspiration comes from the plant materials she respectfully harvests from nature. Joan’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

For more information on Joan and her basketry skills, visit her website at: www.joancarrigan.com.

Also this month, the Comox Valley Horticultural Society is celebrating the arrival of spring with our new “Spring a Friend” event! Bring a friend as your guest to our meeting this month at no cost! (There will be a little gift for your friend as our welcome.)


Notice: The basketry workshop scheduled for Sunday, March 20th, has been cancelled.



Updated on March 13, 2016

May 25, 2015: Krista Kaptein – “Plants of Paradise Meadows”

Krista KapteinOur speaker will be Krista Kaptein, Co-ordinator of Programs and Volunteers at the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre, which is operated by Strathcona Wilderness Institute Society.

She will present “Plants of Paradise Meadows.”

In our own backyard, we have this unique area of subalpine fens and meadows with rare and unusual flora.

Krista will also offer us some history of Strathcona Park and background on the Strathcona Wilderness Institute.