Penner doesn’t settle for ‘good enough’ when it comes to gardens
A recent presenter at Write Out Loud in late September at the swift Current Lyric Theatre was a popular one. And his over all popularity is growing...literally.
Lethbridge resident Lyndon Penner, currently works as a garden designer, maintenance worker, and a tour guide at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden while also doing botanical guide work in Waterton Lakes National Park. Penner’s career, however, has been quite illustrious.
“I'm self-employed and have been since 2013,” Penner said. “I grew up gardening and I started working in the nursery industry when I was 16. Since that time, I have worked for quite a number of different garden centers, I have written articles for many different gardening magazines, and I have been a teacher and (a) guest-lecturer at many different institutions.”
Penner has taught at the University of Saskatchewan, Olds College, the Calgary Zoo Botanic Garden, and the University of British Columbia, and has also traveled across western Canada to speak to many different horticultural societies and gardening groups. Penner was also a CBC Radio columnist for many years.
“Landscaping and horticulture was something I grew up doing and always liked,” Penner said. “I grew up on a farm so we had a lot of space. I was always working with my grandmother and we were always going to greenhouses to buy plants. I've also always had a great passion for books, and my Grandma always had lots of different gardening titles on her shelf. I was (and still am) a really voracious reader. I read every gardening book I could get my hands on and I just never wanted to do anything else with my life except grow and enjoy and experience plants.”
Besides engaging in landscaping and horticulture pursuits, Penner has written three books, all of which can be found on Amazon: 'The Short Season Yard' (of which there are two editions- a chinook edition and a prairie edition), Garden Design for the Short Season Yard, and Native Plants for the Short Season Yard. Penner also has written a fourth book, which will be released in 2020.
“I made it a point many years ago that I was going to do things in my life and career that make me happy and accomplish good in the world,” Penner said. “I have worked really, really hard and I don't put up with toxic people and I have zero tolerance for nonsense. This has served me really well and while I don't make tons of money, I have an exemplary quality of life and I'm really pleased with what I've done with my life so far.”
Penner says that he constantly strives to stay on top of trends in everything he does through the help of his contacts in the nursery industry and through diligent note-taking. Penner says that he also reads a lot of gardening magazines, go to a lot of horticultural conferences, and he keeps a sharp eye on what is showing up in nurseries and in people's gardens.
“I am not big on trends, actually,” Penner said. “I think it is much better that a garden be solidly built, carefully planned, and serves the purposes of the gardener rather than that it be trendy.
“We could be doing a lot more to protect places where native plant communities are still thriving, we could be doing a lot more to make our neighbourhoods beautiful, and we could be doing a lot more to make our gardens friendlier for pollinators. Many gardens are stagnant and boring because we've settled for ‘good enough’ instead of ‘really good’.”
The 2018-19 Write Out Loud series at the Lyric Theatre in Swift Current started on a high note with a well attended appearance by wellknown gardening expert and author Lyndon Penner, Sept. 19.