FALL STUDY DAY – October 26, 2019

Time: 10:00am – 3:30pm
H.R. MacMillan Space Centre,
1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver

To register for the Fall Study Day, please forward your cheque, payable to the Vancouver Hardy Plant Group, for $45 (members pre-paid), $50 (non-members and all tickets at the door), to Lindsay Macpherson, 11662 Carr St., Maple Ridge, BC, V2X 5M9. If you are purchasing for others, please indicate their names and whether they are members or non-members.

Cheques should be received by October 19, 2018, which will allow time for your name to be copied onto a name tag that you will collect and wear after signing in at the pre-paid table, thus helping the committee in providing orderly access to the event. Cheques received after that date will be kept in the order they have been received and may or may not gain you entry to the event.


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Neil Porteous

Head Gardener, Mt. Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland

Neil started his education in Edinburgh, but received his higher education in England, garnering a BA with Honours in Landscape Management at the University of Greenwich and a subsequent Masters in Garden History at Bristol.

His career ultimately took him across the water to Northern Ireland, where he became involved with the National Trust as a gardens and parks adviser in the north region. Since then he has been involved with various renovation and restoration projects relating to gardens of significant historical importance such as the Ballynatray Estate in Cork where he was Estate Manager and Head Gardener, and on the Advisory Board of the Castlewellan Arboretum, among others.

In 2011 he was appointed to his current role at Mount Stewart, but has also been the head advisor for all National Trust gardens in Northern Ireland since 2015.

Mount Stewart is a stately home, hemmed on one side by the large body of water called Strangford Lough, and on the other by the Irish Sea. Fortunately a mild climate allows rare and tender plants from across the globe to thrive. The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design, planting artistry, and allegory, bearing the hallmark of its creator, Lady Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, whose family had owned the property since the mid-eighteenth century. She was a great socialite in the years following World War I and combined her passion for bold planting schemes with inspiration from the principles of William Robinson.  Gertrude Jekyll designed one of the various themed gardens within the greater property.

Work is currently underway in the light of predicted rises in the sea level, and Neil will no doubt address the changes which are currently in progress in this regard. He will also discuss work on another garden almost five hours’ drive away, Annes Grove. This garden requires significant work to attempt to conserve plants and seed brought back in the early 19th century by such pioneer collectors such as George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward.

Neil is a well-known figure in the gardening fraternity and often finds time to speak with the media and at gardening events.

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Thomas Hobbs,

Southlands Nursery Owner, Vancouver, BC

Thomas Hobbs is well-known as a plant guru, floristry specialist, and general aesthete in the gardening world throughout North America and beyond.  His flair for knowing how to inject excitement, poetry, rhythm and opulence into a garden or any other space has, without doubt, had an invaluable influence on garden-making in British Columbia and much further afield.

In earlier years Thomas’s home on the Vancouver west-side was a spectacular testament to conquering the limitations of both space and climate to create a tropical paradise even before climate change became an unwelcome (or, for some gardeners perhaps, a welcome) reality.

After moving on from the confines of his prior home, he now has a larger area in Surrey in which to play and experiment on an acreage close to the US border.

Thomas is well-known in the gardening and design media, and his homes have often been opened to allow us to enjoy and learn from his creations.  He is the author of two well-read books, ‘Shocking Beauty’ and ‘The Jewel Box Garden’, both of which will make anyone, but especially gardeners, salivate with envy.

His presentation will revisit gardens in England, which are no doubt evolving beyond what many of us may have seen in person in the past.

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Amy Sanderson

Amy Sanderson Flowers, Saanich, BC

Amy hails from Edmonton, Alberta, where she grew her own flowers and enjoyed arranging them.  Her career goal was at first to become a lawyer, and she went off to New York to pursue that. However, it seems that goal soon disappeared and her love of flowers led her to haunt the NYC flower sales and eventually train under leading florists, as well as exploring the east coast where she was able to satisfy her lust for unusual plants.

Realizing she could not stay in New York, she headed back home to start growing flowers and building a business as a florist supplying weddings and other events.

Eventually, in order to further her gardening skills she ventured to the UK to train at Great Dixter and also with Beth Chatto.  On her return to Canada she realized that in the weather environment of Alberta she could not fully pursue her passion, and so has migrated to the west coast and established her business in the Saanich area, where milder weather prevails.

She is currently hoping to establish a small nursery as well as supply as many happy customers as possible with her inventive flower arrangements.