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October 10, 2009

The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto's 175th Anniversary Gala Reception

October 5, 2009

I must admit I went to this event with trepidation.

At first, I was extremely please to be invited. This would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase Toronto horticulture, garden writers and Allan Gardens. I was even asked to recommend other people I thought should be invited, and I provided contact information. Then the day before the event I received an email. Do to protocol restriction I was not allowed to bring my camera. An official photographer had been hired for the event. I was livid!

I said to myself, “You're goin', and you're bringing your camera.” If anyone says anything to you, you can give that person two options, “Either I photograph the event, or I photograph my expulsion from it.” I then imagined myself standing outside and photographing people's shocked reactions through the greenhouse windows. The whole ridiculousness of my situation and my indignation made me laugh. Though, now that I think about it, it may have made for a very interesting pictorial!

Trying not to be obvious, when I arrived at 6:30 pm, I had my camera tucked away in my bag. I marched my way back to the Children's Conservatory and to my amazement and relief there I found that every second person had a digital camera or cel. phone and was snapping away.

“You can't stop the tide!” I thought to myself, and out came my camera.

Also to my relief and pleasure I found my good friend, Laura Grant, Executive Director of The American Rhododendron Society and Founder of the Ontario Water Garden Society. She looked beautiful in feathers and pearls. Mayor David Miller, standing behind Laura, at the greenhouse entrance was one of the esteemed speakers.

Laura Grant

The speaker line up was pretty impressive. The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Paul Zammit, Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, His Worship, Mayor David Miller, And Marjorie Harris, Author, all spoke about the joy and nostalgia of gardening and the great benefit of organizations such as the horticultural societies to the City. Ken Fink, Immediate Past President of The Ontario Horticultural Association, presented a Special Cerificate to Dorothea Cook, President of The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto.

Below you can see Mayor Miller (left) addressing the audience, David Onley seated in his motorized scooter, and Dorothea Cook seated beside.

The Speeches

After the speeches, David Miller strode toward the crowd who parted like the Red Sea. People literally jumped on top of one another to get out of the way, but I don't think any disrespect was intended. The same reaction, I'm sure, would have been afforded the Pope. All the same, it was a shock to see and slightly comical. He walked on, through, and into the next greenhouse which housed the silent auction, and that was the last that I saw of the Mayor that night.

The Audience

The exposure in the photo above looks different because I didn't use the flash. If I had, you would have seen the people in front and the ones towards the back would have been in shadow. Without the flash you run the risk of having a blurry photo because a hand held camera could easily move while the shutter was open. Moving people would also look blurry, but here every one was so still.

It was nice to see David Onley again, after so many years.

Me and David Onley

David and I worked together at CITY TV about 20 years ago, on Breakfast Television. He was the News Anchor and I did all of the weather and traffic graphics. There were many times when I had to pass David new traffic accident reports under the camera while he was on air reading the news reports. It was a tough job. For everyone who worked on BT bedtime was 6 pm and morning wake up was 2 am.

There were many other familiar faces in the crowd. Here you can see Denis Flanagan, Landscape Ontario, Tara Nolan, Canadian Gardening Online, and Lorraine Flanigan, garden writer. I made them stand in that order, so that I could tease Tara that I had put her in a Flanagan sandwich.

Denis Flanagan, Tara Nolan, and Lorraine Flanigan

Two very esteemed attendees, Mark Runciman, Executive Director of the Royal Botanical Garden, and Judy Willmott, Executive Director to the Toronto Botanical Garden looked great at the event.

Mark Runciman and Judy Willmott

From left to right are Colette Murphy, Gayla Trail, Barry Parker, Brenda McCrank, and Laura Berman.

Colette, Gayla, Barry, Brenda, and Laura

Take a look at Colette Murphy's website. In my opinion she embodies the next big trend. Cemented by Michelle Obama and this horrible economic crash, organic vegetable gardening will be at the forefront of popular gardening for the next 10 years. I know of two popular garden writers who have stepped away from their usual garden passions to focus on this new trend. But just like Feng Shui and glass garden gazing balls, everything has its' day. “Change” is the only constant.

Speaking of change, below (left) is new garden designer Sara Jameson of Sweetpea's. I believe her specialty right now is instillation of large garden containers. Many people don't realize that Marjorie Harris (centre) is not only a garden writer but also is a great garden designer, specializing in the selection and placement of perennials, shrubs and small trees in the border. On the right is Helen Chapman, of The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto.

Sara Jameson, Marjorie Harris and Helen Chapman

By 8:00 pm things had pretty much wound down. Only the really keen bidders in the silent auction remained to see if they had won any of the many great gifts that had been donated.

The Silent Auction

As I was leaving I couldn't escape the irony that here I was, standing outside the event looking in. I had to take a photo. As I did I couldn't help but realize how stunning Allen Gardens looks at night. It sparkles like a jewel. If the ROM is our Crystal then Allen Gardens is Toronto's Civic Diamond.

Allen Gardens at night

If you are hosting a garden related event in the GTA and would like it covered in or would like to place an e-poster about it on our Events Calendar, just contact me. I am always delighted to promote anything gardening in Toronto.


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