Courses to keep gardeners busy

The winter season is the perfect time to stock up on new gardening ideas and skills. And how better to do it than taking gardening courses from the experts?

Several well-known institutions offer a variety of courses guaranteed to keep even the most experienced and demanding green thumbs busy, among them the Civic Garden Centre in Toronto, Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, and the University of Guelph – not to mention Elderhostel in Canada. Length of courses varies from two-hour lectures to courses lasting several weeks or months. Some classes are given on weekdays, but most are offered during the evening or on weekends. There’s a wide array of topics, with nature studies, painting, flower arranging and crafts complementing the more practical aspects of gardening.

Here’s a sampling of what’s available:

Civic Garden Centre, 777 Lawrence Avenue East, North York, ON. M3C 1P2. Telephone (416) 397-1340; fax (416) 397-1354.

  • Autumn Essentials: Winterize your Garden, Oct. 26, 1998, starting 7 p.m. This two-hour session by Marion Jarvie will provide tips to ensure your plants survive the coming winter. Another one-session course by Jarvie is A Gard Palette for Continuous Bloom, Nov. 10, starting 10 a.m.

  • Japanese Flower Arranging, four weekly classes commencing Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. with instructor Mrs. Shizuko Kadoguchi, provides an introduction to traditional Japanese flower arranging.

  • Orchids Demystified, Nov. 23, starting 7 p.m., by Claudio Rossi. At the end of this two-hour lecture you’ll have seen some gorgeous slides as well as understood just how really easy it is to grow orchids in your home.
  • The Civic Garden Centre also offers several one-session workshops on creating festive decorations:

    • Herbs for the Holidays, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.; Pine Cone Wreath Workshop, Oct. 15, 7 p.m.; Floral Designs for the Festive Season, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.; European Advent Wreath Workshop, Nov. 25, 7 p.m.

  • For the Festive Table, two sessions Nov. 30, 7 p.m. and Dec. 1, 9:30 a.m.
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, P. O. Box 399, Hamilton, ON L8N 3H6. Telephone (905) 527-1158; fax (905) 577-0375.

    • Botany for Beginners, given by Tyler Smith in four weekly sessions starting Nov. 5, 7 p.m., provides a guided tour of the plant kingdom and helps decipher gardening and wildflower books.

    • Waterfowl Watching, with John Hannah – two sessions on Oct. 20, 7 p.m., and Oct. 24, 9 a.m. The Hamilton area is waterfowl mecca for migrating ducks and overwintering species. A similar course, Gull Watching, will be held Nov. 17 and Nov. 21.

  • A Topiary Tree, with Elizabeth Pigott, Nov. 7, 10 a.m. Create your own topiary tree from evergreens, accented with fruit, nuts, and ribbon.

  • Fragrant Herbal Christmas Gifts, by Joan Sinding – single session courses are available Nov. 4, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Learn how to create fragrant gifts such as pomanders, Victorian lavender sachets, bouquet garni, bath products, etc.
  • Other courses which are scheduled for the winter session include:

    • Jan. 5 to Feb. 9, 1999 – Designing a Perennial Border; Feb. 17 – Grafting for Beginners; Mar. 3 – Starting Plants from Seed.

    Elderhostel Canada, 4 Cataraqui St., Kingston, ON K7K 1Z7. Telephone (613) 530-2222; fax (613) 530-2096.
    Four six-day courses will be given by the staff of Kingsbrae Horticultural Garden at the Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, as part of the Elderhostel winter programs – a great opportunity to take a gardening course and spend time at a Canadian Pacific hotel in Canada’s oldest resort town. The dates and topics are:

    • January 24-29, 1999 – Herbs, containers, composting, preparation for the next growing season.
    • February 7-12 – Low maintenance gardening.
    • March 7-12 – Garbage is gold; get your lawn off drugs; create the perfect garden soil.
    • March 21-26 – How to create a bird-friendly garden.

    Independent Study/OAC Access, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1. Telephone (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3375; fax (519) 824-9813.
    For those interested in furthering their horticulture studies at diploma level, the University of Guelph offers courses equivalent to its full-time horticulture programs on an independent study basis. This means a student can register for a course at any time, receive print-, video- and audio-based learning materials, and work towards completing the Ontario Diploma or Certificate in Horticulture – or take a few courses purely for interest. Courses such as landscape design, greenhouse management, horticulture, nursery production and urban tree care are popular with the 50-plus crowd. Bruce Doucette, Student Services Manager, says, “A significant number of our IS (Independent Studies) students are of retirement age. They begin by taking courses for general interest, then switch to a diploma or certificate program as their interest grows.”

    The above are just a few of the many courses on offer this winter. Brochures and/or calendars providing full details of all programs, registration details and procedure, cost, location, etc., can be obtained by calling or writing to the institution you’re interested in. Gardening and related courses are also available through your local board of education, but unfortunately the calendars were not ready at the time. However, by the time you read this, calendars should be available.