Garden Routes Home: We set out on our journey


CAPTIONS: Above, a sideyard rose bed near peak bloom in the summer of 2013; centre, the pale yellow David Austin rose Jude the Obscure; bottom, cheery purple coneflower –  a delight for the eye! (File photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Welcome to the launch of Garden Routes Home, a feature about local gardens and gardeners with special reports on rose shows, garden walks and other seasonal attractions in our community.

My blog will provide a bountiful bouquet of annual, perennial, ornamental, hosta and container gardens; a potpourri of interviews for the latest in garden gab and yes, gossip; garden tips; and last but not least, words to grow by.


Words to grow by? Here’s one example:

For years I kept a garden journal. I was faithful in recording things like: weather conditions, new assets and where and when they were planted, spraying dates, condition of blooms and more.

I did this for half a dozen consecutive gardening seasons.

I still have my garden journal and refer to it every now and then.

I cannot say why I stopped observing and recording what I refer to as goings-on in the garden beds.

But I wish I hadn’t.

I won’t say I will put pencil to paper once again this year, although the thought has crossed my mind.

But the urge is growing, so let’s see what happens.


Let’s begin our Garden Routes Home  journey with a look at Welland Horticultural Society’s planned activities for the year. Incorporated in 1918, this may be Welland’s longest-running volunteer-based organization. Now in its 96th year, the Horticultural Society invites community involvement and participation and certainly merits your interest and support. Its longevity is  a record to be proud of.

Welland Horticultural Society calendar:

The Horticultural Society meets the third Wednesday of each month except July and August. It convenes at Wesley United Church, 244 First Ave. N. and meetings start at 7 p.m. Here’s a look at this year’s calendar and guest speakers at meetings:

April 16: Vivian Shoalts Master Gardener from Port Colborne, speaks on amaryllis;

May 21: Dan Cooper speaks on low maintenance gardening;

June 18: Karl Vahrmeyer speaks on hydrangeas;

Sept. 17: Dixie Slaney speaks on colour combinations in the garden;

Oct. 15: Kristi Montovani speaks on living roofs;

Nov. 19: hands-on project fair, elections;

Dec. 10: Christmas social.

2014 Special events:

May 17: Plant sale, Niagara Regional Exhibition grounds;

June 21: Rose show, Seaway Mall;

July 5: Garden walk, several outstanding, local gardens opened for public walkthroughs;

Oct. 15: Photo contest.

Rick Demers is the society’s president, he can be contacted at 905-732-6041. Or, for more info: visit the society at or e-mail:

Coming up next month: Listings for Pelham, Port Colborne horticultural societies.


Garden tip: Prune roses when the forsythia blooms, usually in late March or early April. Or better yet, keep an eye open to when City of Welland horticulture crews start pruning in parks and other public sites, like Parkway Drive rose beds. When they are in action – you know it’s time to get out your garden gloves and pruning scissors and get to work! They’re the best to set your garden clock by.

Name dropping: Welland resident, the late Lt. Col. Hugh A. Rose, twice served as president of the Canadian Rose Society, 1930-31 and 1946-47; and,

Wellanders by reputation are accomplished rose growers. One such exhibitor was the late John Rohaly. His proudest achievement came June 27, 1979 at the National Rose Show at Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens. He had eight entries and came home with seven ribbons: a first prize winner (Chicago Peace), four seconds and two thirds.

Words to Grow By: “The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic. Always enterprising, and never satisfied. They are forever planting, and forever digging up. They always look forward to doing better than they have ever done before. ‘Next year…’ they say, and even as they pronounce the words you become infected by their enthusiasm and allow yourself to be persuaded that the garden will indeed look different, quite different, next year. Experience tells you that it never does, but how poor and disheartening a thing is experience compared with hope!” – Vita Sackville-West, in Country Notes, 1939.

Sunset today, March 28: 7: 25 p.m.                                Sunrise Saturday, March 29: 6: 48 a.m.

Comments, tips  or suggestions? Respond here on the blog site or by e-mail:

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)


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