We cel­e­brate Al­berta Gar­dener’s 16th year

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - News -

It was 1997 when I first de­cided to cre­ate a lo­cal Gar­dener mag­a­zine. The rea­son was sim­ple. There was sim­ply no in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal gar­den­ing to be had at the book­stands and I was a novice gar­dener, ea­ger to learn about what was be­com­ing a pas­sion­ate in­ter­est. didn’t know then about the Prairie Gar­dener, the lit­tle digest-sized gar­den­ing book that had been around for years — if you knew where to look — and all I could find, and rarely at that, was Cana­dian Gar­den­ing which seemed to be all about Toronto. There was also Van­cou­ver-based Gar­dens West, but it was all about gar­den­ing on the Coast, a vastly dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. Both these other mag­a­zines have folded now and we find our­selves alone in the field (no pun in­tended).

So I cre­ated the lo­cal gar­dener mag­a­zines, start­ing with Man­i­toba Gar­dener, then On­tario Gar­dener and fi­nally Al­berta Gar­dener in 2002.

I re­mem­ber com­ing to Ed­mon­ton to con­sult the Donna Daw­son be­fore I started in Al­berta. I wanted to know how she, then the Cana­dian gar­den­ing guru on the In­ter­net, felt about this idea. She and Tom bought me break­fast as they filled me with en­cour­age­ment.

When we launched the mag­a­zine, it was a vastly dif­fer­ent world from the one we now live in. The gar­den cen­tres were small and the plants were mostly an­nu­als done up in six- and even nine-packs of seedlings. Sweet peas seemed to be the most pop­u­lar Cal­gary flower in the early days. There were very few peren­nial va­ri­eties – even hostas were con­sid­ered ex­otics and some peo­ple won­dered why any­one would want to plant those plain, green things. Clema­tis was just a word hardly any­one knew how to pro­nounce (was it clem’- a- tis or cle-mat’-us?) and there was one pur­ple va­ri­ety avail­able. Daylilies were all or­ange and find­ing astilbe was con­sid­ered a coup. As for daf­fodils – why, they weren’t hardy here, were they?

I re­call writ­ing a gar­den story about a gar­den in Cal­gary where the owner knit­ted cov­ers to pro­tect her pre­cious roses. There was so lit­tle in­for­ma­tion. One gar­dener re­called with a laugh how she had planted her six-pack in one lump and an­other told of how she planted her bulbs pointy side down (makes sense, doesn’t it?).

Peo­ple planted other bulbs – dahlias and glad­i­ola were im­por­tant. We knew about canna from civic plant­ings. We were just learn­ing about the tiny scilla and the lovely grape hy­acinth. We dug up the ten­der bulbs and corms and stored them care­fully for the win­ter. Ev­ery year brought some­thing new and ex­cit­ing to our lo­cal stores.

We couldn’t wait for seeds to come in each fall. We planted the lovely four o’clocks and pow­der puff asters and State Fair zin­nias, and of course, there were al­ways bach­e­lor but­tons and cos­mos. Our bor­ders were neat with sweet alyssum sur­round­ing hot­house im­pa­tiens in the shady ar­eas.

We had an editorial board back then that in­cluded peo­ple like Donna Balzer, Jeff dejong, Hil­dur Childs, Donna Daw­son, John Helder, Edgar Toop and Michael Hick­man. Many thanks to Joan Co­hen our first edi­tor. These folks and the others who fol­lowed were in­valu­able in pro­vid­ing ex­per­tise and ideas.

John and Ju­dith Per­rin were our part­ners then and they spent count­less hours dili­gently pro­mot­ing the mag­a­zine and help­ing with all the end­less de­tail mag­a­zine pub­lish­ing takes. Along the way, Pro­lific Graph­ics be­came an equity part­ner and Al Alexan­druk and Tom Wil­ton have been tremen­dous as­so­ciates and supports.

So here we are, about to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th birth­day. We are thrilled to be able to present this special edi­tion to hon­our our na­tion and our prov­ince’s his­tory in the gar­den. We have tried to men­tion as many of our pi­o­neer gar­den­ers and gar­dens as pos­si­ble. If we have in­ad­ver­tently left a sig­nif­i­cant player out, please let us know be­cause we plan to do a re­turn edi­tion next fall, look­ing to­ward the next 150 years. Dorothy Dob­bie Founder and Pres­i­dent Pe­ga­sus Pub­li­ca­tions Inc.

P.S. don’t for­get to en­ter the gar­den con­test.

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