Horticultural society enjoyed by all ages

Sarah Pruys

The Fort Frances Horticultural Society has been busy once again this year but like all clubs, it always is looking for new members.
From almost seven-year-old Magnus Trembath to Edith Newman, who is 90 years older than him, the society is a great organization to get involved with.
“We’ve had lots of events . . . [but] the growing season has been so bad I don’t even know if we’re going to be having our regular flower show,” noted society president Anne Ostby, adding they may hold a flower display without judging instead.
Earlier this summer, society members heard a presentation on botanical gardens in conjunction with the local public library.
“We had Lowey’s [Lowey’s Greenhouse and Market Garden] do a presentation on black knot . . . the town told people they had to get rid of the black knot trees in their yards because the disease is airborne,” said Ostby.
“We also had a presentation by Cam Trembath on Voyageurs National Park,” she added.
“And then we had our ‘Picnic in the Park’ for our last meeting. We all got together for a potluck.”
Their August meeting will feature a presentation on butterflies.
“We’re [also] hoping to have a couple of garden tours if anyone has got one they would like to show off,” said Ostby.
But like many other volunteer organizations in town, the horticultural society is finding it difficult to attract new members. While the one Atikokan has more than 200 members, Fort Frances lags behind with only 35.
“My biggest problem is getting volunteers,” Ostby stressed. “We’ve only got 35 people, and a lot of us are elderly and not able to do a lot.
“It’s been a real struggle as to whether we’ll even be able to continue,” she admitted.
“We try to keep it active but it’s hard sometimes.”
Young Magnus Trembath is an exception. Now in his third season of gardening and in his second year with the Fort Frances Horticultural Society, he only has missed a meeting once and is excited to share everything he has learned.
“I like learning about new things, and also it looked like a nice thing to do,” he explained.
“I also like gardening, so I thought a horticultural one [club] would be good.”
Along with the snacks and guest speakers at the monthly meetings, Trembath said one of his favourite parts is when prizes are drawn.
“Well, we have door prizes and a 50/50 draw; I’m actually the one that gets to draw the draw,” he noted.
“In fact, once one of the members of the club told me to pull out eight and I pulled out eight!”
“They prizes they give out are gardening tools,” Trembath added.
Last year, the youngster placed third in the flower show horticultural society holds annually—“in the adult section,” he added, with his stargazer lily.
“And that’s how I got ‘Rookie of the Year,’” he laughed, saying the award might of gone to his mother, Andrea, if he hadn’t placed in the show.
“One thing I learned was about black knot—it’s a fungus that kills trees,” said Trembath, referring to what he’s learned at the meetings.
“It’s a lot of fun at the horticultural club.
“Seeing a six-year-old in the club might encourage parents to bring their children to the club,” he reasoned, saying he would like to see more people closer to his age come out.
The club is comprised mainly of seniors, with whom he is friends with.
“I don’t even sit with my mom anymore [at meetings],” Trembath noted, agreeing with is mother that there is a great social component to the club.
Already he is learning about proper etiquette at meetings, such as not “seconding” motions every time.
Asked to name his favourite flower, Trembath replied, “There is actually one named—this is my favourite—Echineacea magnus [a type of coneflower].”
He then chatted about the wildlife that enjoy visiting his garden.
“Once, three years ago, there was some baby grouse . . . once we had some baby woodpeckers . . . and the deer eat up all of our hostas,” he remarked.
“And a horse even once showed up in our garden . . . and a snake kept popping out of our flower pots last year!”
Lots of animals means that he and his mom have a good garden.
“Oh, and by the way, I forgot to tell you, this year I shovelled out a centipede!” Trembath exclaimed.
“At first I thought it was a worm, but then I noticed a whole bunch of legs.
“It didn’t have as many as a millipede, I assumed, so it had to be a centipede,” he reasoned.
And then there are other members who have been part of the local horticultural society since it first began, such as Edith Newman.
“Oh heavens, yes, I’m 97—going on 98,” she noted. “But that doesn’t really have anything to do with horticultural.
“Well, I’ve been there since it started, I think it was in ’69, and I’ve been there ever since.
“Why did I join? Because I like flowers,” Newman explained.
“What do I like about it? The sociability, the friendliness—the object of the society is to beautify the country, the city, and the town,” she said.
“[The horticultural society] is certainly anxious to beautify the town, and make people aware of the prospects and what they have to look forward to.
“If they want a beautiful town, they have to work for it,” Newman stressed. “Nothing is given to us.
“Working is maybe just in attending a meeting and offering suggestions on how to beautify the town,” she added, though help with project such as the Rainycrest garden is always appreciated.
“People have to be aware that flowers are beautiful, and that they have to take care of them.”
Unlike Trembath, she doesn’t have a favourite flower she shares a name with.
“I just have many favourite ones,” she explained. “I just love them . . . I have a small garden around my house.
“I might add that the greenhouses have been most generous with us,” said Newman. “Anxious to make our horticultural society grow, and anxious to do anything around town that they can do, Lowey’s particularly.
“I have always been interested in horticultural,” she concluded.
“I love my plants, I love my flowers, and you have to love them in order to have them.”