Pen­ner doesn’t set­tle for ‘good enough’ when it comes to gar­dens

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Prairies - BY HEATHER CAMERON— South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

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’.”

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

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.

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