Horticulture authority speaking in Watford

Paul Zammit is encouraging people to think differently about gardening.

Advertisement 2

Article content

“It really kind of challenges some of the traditional things that we have done … in the past,” the horticulture professor at Niagara College said about his upcoming talk May 1 in Watford.

Article content

Titled, ‘The Power of Horticulture: Local and Global Possibilities,’ themes include facing climate change anxiety, gardening as therapy, adapting gardens to be more resilient in the face of hotter and drier weather, and how local actions can make a difference in a global context, said Zammit, who also provides gardening advice on CBC Radio’s Here and Now, and Ontario Today.

“One of the things I try to emphasize is more about function than beauty,” said Zammit, a former Toronto Botanical Garden horticulture director, who’s been presenting on horticulture locally and internationally for more than 30 years.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“Over the past eight or so years there has been more of horticulture from an environmental perspective,” he said.

Amid biodiversity threats internationally, people have control over what they can do in their own gardening spaces, big and small, he said.

That includes realizing the power of soil, he said.

“One of my mantras is feeding the garden from the garden,” he said, adding soils and ecosystems therein are powerful for carbon sequestering.

“The volume of life that’s there, whether in bacteria, or especially in fungi, is pretty phenomenal,” he said.

He also advises avoiding “water hog” plants, and going with native species that tolerate drier weather better.

“While we may not fully be able to control what’s happening, we need to plan and be much more responsible, resource responsible,” he said.

Advertisement 4

Article content

The East Lambton Community Complex talk is Zammit’s second time speaking in Watford, he said, after also visiting in 2007.

That talk 17 years ago — on Zammit’s favorite annuals and perennials — like the 6:30 pm event coming up, was presented by the Watford Warwick Horticultural Society, said club secretary Karen Wood.

The 100-member group, dating back to the 1950s, takes care of community planters for the municipality, helps out with community events, holds plant sales, and puts on information events like Zammit’s talk, she said.

“He’s not only a dynamic speaker but he has a wonderful sense of humor,” Wood said about asking Zammit to speak.

She regularly listens to him on the radio, she said, touting his “common sense” approach, and adding he regularly has good advice for beginners and seasoned gardeners alike.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“He’s got a lot to offer,” she said.

Officials with the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority will also be present May 1 talking about the importance of horticulture to help mitigate flooding, she said.

Watford last August was flooded with a deluge of rain that prompted an emergency declaration, soaked basements and shifted a roadway.

“The more time we spend in the garden and the more trees that get planted, the better,” Wood said.

Admission is $5 and goes towards expenses like coffee and the room rental, she said.

More information is available by emailing [email protected]or call Wood at 416-483-7265.

[email protected]

Article content