2024 Speakers Profiles:

March 27th  -  Joanna Blanchard

Join Joanna as she journeys to Giverny in Normandy to see Monet’s Garden and its plantings. She will explain how the gardens influenced, and were in turn influenced by, Monet’s art. And as a bonus, she will look at a few other highlights to be found in the village of Giverny. Joanna also suggests that perhaps along the way you will learn something new about gardening! Joanna Blanchard was introduced to horticulture and gardening almost from birth, - her father was a botany professor and her mother a plant pathologist, so the talk at the dinner table was often about plants, and gardens and garden centres and gardening were part of daily life. Despite her best teenaged efforts to shake off the gardening bug she was unsuccessful, and she now loves to share her passion for all things horticultural. Joanna is a past Coordinator of the Toronto Master Gardeners and currently co- President of Leaside Garden Society.

April 24th - Irene Clement

Many residents still don’t know about the hidden gem in the middle of Aurora, a place centered on nature, with trails and ponds and lots of trees. Irene will tell us about the Aurora Arboretum: who we are, where are we, what do we do, when did we begin and why are we doing what we do. Irene will include how Garden Aurora has interacted with development of the Arboretum over the years. Irene is the Chair of the Aurora Community Arboretum. She is a lifelong gardener, lover of animals, birds and nature in general and she likes to travel the world to see and experience nature in many wild places. Irene retired after nearly 40 years in the Biotechnology sector, primarily in vaccine development and licensing. She has been on the board of the Arboretum for 21 years.

May 22nd -  Terry Laurin and Kate Brewitt

Gardeners comment that irises bloom for a short period of time in the spring. This presentation will illustrate that through careful selection of different iris cultivars a gardener can have iris bloom from March until July, and then again from August to November. Also discussed will be how to care for your irises throughout the season. Terry and Kate’s iris obsession started with three tall bearded irises found growing in an abandoned garden. Thirty-five years later they have over 500 different cultivars growing in their garden in Aurora. They are a display garden for the Historic Iris Preservation Society, the Median Iris Society, the Dwarf Iris Society, and the Society for Siberian Iris. Terry is the president of the Ontario Iris Society (ONIS). He is Photo Manager for the American Iris Society Iris Encyclopedia (also known as the Iris WIKI). Kate is the secretary and webmaster for ONIS as well as newsletter editor. Both Terry and Kate are accredited American Iris Society master judges. Always eager to share their passion, Aurora Borealis Iris Garden is open to the public upon request.

​June 26th - Lynn Short

Lynn will introduce MinoKamik, the Ceremonial Garden located on the grounds of the McMichael Art Gallery. The garden was designed and created by Elder Shelley Charles, Lynn Short and the local community. It was modelled after the Ceremonial/Teaching Garden at Humber College in Toronto. The garden contains several native plant species and the four sacred medicines of the Anishinaabe. Come and learn about how a native plant garden can connect you to Mother Earth and all her relatives. Lynn Short is a wife, mother to three and grandmother to five. She is very connected to the land and spends most of her time outdoors, working and playing! She was recently the Environmental Stewardship Specialist at the Humber Arboretum at Humber College. Lynn has worked at Humber College since 2005 in various positions, Senior Nature Interpreter at the Centre for Urban Ecology, Professor of Horticulture at the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology and Co-Lead on a land-based project for Early Childhood Education. She has just retired in January and is looking forward to spending time outdoors at a friend’s Organic Farm growing vegetables and the Nature Preserve where she is a part owner.

July 24th - Pat de Valence

​Alien plant species now count for about 20% of the plants in Ontario, and many of them arrived here through the horticultural trade. Pat will share with you what gardeners need to know about the environmental impact of these plants and how to stop their spread. Pat will provide plant profiles of what to plant instead. Pat de 19 Valence has been gardening in the Greater Toronto area for 35 years, and she’s been a Master Gardener for nearly 20. She is now building her 3rd garden on a ½-acre plot in Stouffville. Pat is keenly interested in ecological gardening—designing low-input plantings with the environment in mind, favouring garden-worthy native plants. She is currently battling several invasive species and will provide helpful information about how to identify and manage these. 

September 25th - Kenneth Brown
An informative and entertaining look at the autumn gardening season, where Ken outlines the many enjoyable activities that engage him in the garden as the weather cools and the days grow shorter. Bountiful harvests, new plantings, fresh blooms, the excitement of bulb planting and eventually the preparation for winter’s blanket of snow. Ken Brown is a horticultural consultant, writer and photographer. He received his bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Guelph. Ken worked as the Superintendent of Horticulture at the Toronto Zoo when it was being planned and built. He owned and operated “The Plant Manager” an interior landscaping company for 20 years building and maintaining a variety of interior gardens. He also has a horticulture teaching degree from the University of Toronto and has taught a variety of related courses. Ken is a certified horticultural judge and he is a frequent speaker at horticultural meetings and seminars. www.gardening-enjoyed.com, his web page, is a great source of advice, tips and updates. He currently spends most of his non-gardening hours writing for various publications, his web site and ezine “Dallying In The Dirt.” 

October 23rd - Julia Dimakos

​Did you know you could grow your own tea garden? Julia will discuss the origin of true tea. She will talk about Camellia sinensis, the differences between green, white, oolong and black tea, and how they compare with tisanes. Brewing techniques and temperatures will be provided for tea and tisanes. Information on herbal teas will be provided including proper harvesting techniques, preserving and storage methods. Julia will also discuss growing a tea garden, the tools needed, garden types and the number of plants recommended. Julia Dimakos, also known as “The Gardening Girl”, started growing food after having children and fell in love with it! Julia has been growing vegetables and writing about gardening for over 13 years. She was twice published in the Canadian Organic Grower magazine and became a published author in July of 2022, with her first book “Tea Gardening for Beginners”. Julia is a “no dig” organic gardener. She loves to inspire others to grow their own gardens, by showing them a less complicated, yet smarter way to grow food.

​Dates and Topics

February 28             Orientation Meeting                            Topic:  Get to Know Garden Aurora

                                   Meeting on Zoom                                             Flower Show Awards

March 27                  Speaker:  Joanna Blanchard               Topic:  Claude Monet and the Gardens of Giverny

                                   Meeting on Zoom                                                                      

April 24                     Speaker:  Irene Clement                     Topic:  Aurora Community Arboretum:

                                                                                          the 5 W's

                                                                                          Flower Show

May 22                      Speaker:  Terrance Laurin and          Topic:  Four Months of Iris Bloom and Beyond

                                                     Kate Brewitt                                    Flower Show

June 26                      Speaker:  Lynn Short                          Topic:  MinoKamik, the Ceremonial Garden                                                                                                 located at the McMichael Art Gallery

                                                                                                               Flower Show


July 24                        Speaker:  Pat de Valence                   Topic:  Invasive Plants

                                                                                                               Flower Show


September  25         Speaker:  Ken Brown                         Topic:  Garden to Bed

                                                                                                               Flower Show

October 23               Speaker:  Julia Dimakos                     Topic:  Tea Gardening for Beginners


Speaker Program – 2024

Est. 1918

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