2019 Speakers Profiles:

February 27th  - Antonio Valente 
Antonio is a flower farmer in Thornhill, growing a wide range of specialty and heirloom cut flower varieties and foliage. He is a teacher and has been an avid gardener his entire life. Antonio started a cutting garden which has evolved into a wholesale cut flower business. 

We will learn from Antonio about how he created his business, his favourite cut flower varieties, and the gardening techniques he uses, without the use of harmful chemicals for small scale/high output flower farming.

March 27th - Stephanie Prince
Stephanie is currently the Stewardship Coordinator at Forests Ontario. Originally from northern Ontario, she is passionate about educating Ontarians about environmental matters and why the forests are important to our daily lives.

Her presentation will explain to us about the impacts of invasive species on our natural environment. She will help us as gardeners to plant native species to help stop the spread of invasive plants in our communities. And of course, Stephanie will help us understand the value of our forest.

April 24th - Murray Ogilvie

Murray's talk will provide a review of the Monarch lifecycle, why the Monarch is a species of special interest and regulations that apply, plus details on essentials to support each stage, looking at the varieties of milkweed, as well as some of the varieties of nectar plants that attract the adult Monarch.

Murray and his wife live in Newmarket and they worked with Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority to put in a Rain Garden, and have also added water features, pollinator gardens, a bioswale, and vegetable gardens.

​May 22nd -  Alice Casselman
Alice is the founding president of the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER), a retired Science Department Head and teacher. She is the ACER program developer for citizen science with international monitoring for climate change impacts on trees and communities.

Alice will be providing an overview of basic climate change or destabilization. Her talk will introduce local predictions with emphasis on adaptations for community responses, especially for extreme weather events.  Alice will be sharing data from monitoring in the Aurora Arboretum as part of Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and ACER project.

 June 26th - Heinke Thiessen
Heinke's interest in gardening started at a very early age on her parent's dairy farm in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. She owned and operated Perennial Pleasures Landscape Design, and taught in the Horticultural Program at Sheridan College. Heinke is an active member of Credit Valley Horticultural Society, is a Horticultural judge accredited by the Royal Botanical Gardens, a Floral Design Judge accredited by the Garden Clubs of Ontario and a past chair of the Garden Clubs of Ontario Judges' Council.

Heinke is going to guide us through the choice of garden accents/accessories, may they be large or small, found or expensive, concrete, metal, glass etc. Her talk will help us to add that personal touch, create interest and enhance our gardens by properly placing those accents.

 July 24th -  Chrystal Bradford and Liam Kijewski
Pollinators aren't just fun to watch, they're an indication of a thriving and resilient ecosystem. Chrystal and Liam will help us plant gardens that are beautiful and help threatened species of bees, butterflies, bats and more. They will discuss techniques to use to encourage pollinators in both urban and rural environments.

Wildlife Gardening is full service landscaping company and native plant nursery. Crystal Bradford and Liam Kijewski focus on using native plants and natural gardening techniques to attract wildlife and increase biodiversity as well as create more sustainable communities. They love to include xeriscaping, Hugelkultur, edible plants, and rain gardens in their designs. Crystal earned an Honors Bachelor Degree in Environmental Studies. Liam is a certified seed collector with the Ministry of Natural Resources

September 25th - Nick McGowan
Thanks to Aurora Home Hardware for arranging this speaker, and for AgricultureRx for sponsoring the presentation. Nick from Agroclutural Organics is a professional grower who will explain to us about the different types of cannabis plants, and how to grow and propagate them.

October 23rd - Paul Zammit
Paul Zammit, a graduate of the University of Guelph, is the Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Paul has presented across Canada and in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and South Africa. He has appeared on numerous occasions both on television and in print and in 2019 received the Garden Communicator Award from Landscape Ontario. In 2017, Garden Making magazine selected Paul and his wife Uli as two of Canada's top 20 shaping our future gardens gardeners.

Paul will be helping us to increase diversity in our own gardens.

Dates and Topics

February  27             Speaker:  Antonio Valente                              Topic: Growing cut flowers

March  27                  Speaker:  Stephanie Prince                            Topic:  Caring for our environment: Invasive species and the value of 

                                                                                                                             our forests
April  24                     Speaker:  Murray Ogilvie                                Topic:  Monarchs

May  22                      Speaker:  Alice Casselman                             Topic:  Climate change or destabilization

June  26                      Speaker:  Heinke Thiessen                            Topic:  Garden accents: Large or small, found or expensive

July  24                        Speaker:  Chrystal Bradford                          Topic:  Creating a pollinator garden

                                                       and Liam Kijewski

September  25          Speaker:  Nick McGowan                                Topic:  Growing cannabis

October  23               Speaker:  Paul Zammit                                    Topic:  Promoting biodiversity in the home garden

Speaker Program – 2019