THE PRAIRIE GARDEN HISTORY & COMMITTEE
A non-profit publication dedicated to the advancement of horticulture in the Prairie Provinces
The Prairie Garden is a digest sized, soft-covered book published annually by a volunteer committee consisting of about
15-20 members. The work is organized by
the Editor and an annual Guest Editor. Each year, a theme is selected from which a large portion of the articles follow. The theme articles are the responsibility of the Guest Editor, who is chosen because of his or her knowledge in the
chosen subject area. The books are edited in part and as a whole by The Prairie Garden Committee, before being published each year in time for Christmas. Members of the committee often write articles for the book as well as provide images for the 16/32-page colour section aside from their role as Associate Editors. These individuals are what makes this book possible, as are our sponsors, and you, our loyal readership.
The Prairie Garden Committee began in 1956 as a standing committee of the Winnipeg Horticultural Society, which had published The Winnipeg Flower Garden and The Flower Garden, the precursor of The Prairie Garden, starting in 1937. The book began as the annual report of the Winnipeg Horticultural Society, and was free to members when they paid their annual membership fees. It was first called The Winnipeg Flower Garden and included not only the official annual report of the society, but also informational articles by prominent local horticulturists of the time. The name was changed to The Flower Garden in 1955 because of the book’s ever-increasing readership. However, it was only to be called The Flower Garden for two years before becoming The Prairie Garden in 1957, once again because of its ever-broadening popularity, now extending right across the Prairies and beyond; and its applicability to gardening in this region in general, and not to Winnipeg in particular.
The Prairie Garden Committee
Sandy Venton, chair
Sandy has been gardening for over 50 years. Martagon lilies are her passion. She is the president of the North American Lily Society and secretary of the Manitoba Regional Lily Society, a lily judge, and is studying to be a Master Gardener. She lives to garden.
Ian Wise: Secretary
Ian's educational and working background is in entomology. After obtaining Bachelor of Science and a Master of Pest Management degree from Simon University University in Burnaby, BC, he worked as the Provincial Research Co-ordinator for Hoechst Canada in Regina for 8 years and as a research biologist at the Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg for 25 years until retirement in 2013. At the CRC he specialized in developing economic thresholds and sequential sampling plans for insects pest on field crops, and screening wheat for resistance to insect pests. He worked with plant breeders in the development of insect resistance of spring wheat to the wheat midge. He has been an avid gardener for 35 years and grew up in BC on a small acreage where nearly all their fruit and vegetables came from their garden.
Craig Gillespie, editor
Craig studied Horticulture at the University of Guelph, and has over 25 years of experience in the field. Currently he is the head gardener in the English Garden at Assiniboine Park, and a standing member of the Professional Gardeners Guild. He is also an avid photographer, receiving his Photography certificate with honours from Red River College. His photographs have appeared in a number of publications including The Winnipeg Free Press.
Colin Briggs, Vice-Chair
Colin is Emeritus professor of Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba. His specialty is drugs of natural origin and his research has involved analytical studies on nutritional agents and potential toxic compounds in plants. Colin's interests include historical aspects of medicines and with his wife, Elizabeth, he transcribed the nineteenth century medical records of a York Factory physician. Colin is an enthusiastic gardener who enjoys the healthy exercise and relaxation associated with gardening. He is a graduate of the University of London, England.
Susanne Olver, Horticulturist
Ontario Diploma of Horticulture, University of Guelph, and member of the Order of St. John Ambulance.
Trained as a horticulturist in Frankfurt, Germany, Susanne worked for 30 years at the University of Manitoba as a supervisor of the Department of Botany greenhouses. She has lectured across Manitoba and for Continuing Education U of M and was a frequent guest of CBC Information Radio. Other interests include reading, training, and showing prize winning German Shepherd dogs, therapy dog work, and music. Suzanne has been an active member of The Prairie Garden since 1976.
Andy is a Research Scientist - Plant Pathologist of Crop Production Systems (Sustainable Production Systems) with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Plant Science, University of Manitoba. Andy has several research publications. His expertise is in disease surveys, chemical control, cultivar evaluation ,epidemiology, fusarium, fusarium head blight, biological control, oats, cereal leaf diseases, wheat, disease resistance, barley and plant diseases.
Before her retirement in 2016, Linda was a professor of German language and literature at the University of Winnipeg. She has also been an avid gardener for over 30 years. Her garden has been featured on a number of tours. As a certified Master Gardener, she enjoys volunteering in the gardening community as well as speaking and writing about plants and garden design.
Samantha has been a gardner at the University of Manitoba.
Richard Denesiuk, Web site
Richard was The Prairie Garden's editor starting in March, 2007 to December 2015, now administrates this website. He brings organizational and computer skills to the committee used to collect and manage the raw materials to produce The Prairie Garden. Raised in Winnipeg, he has worked with Creative Retirement Manitoba for 30 years as their Information Systems manager. He enjoys gardening, photography, the outdoors, computers and music.
Frances A. Wershler, Editor 1990 to 2002 issues
Fran was the Editor of The Prairie Garden for 13 years, before "retiring" to Associate Editor status in 2002. Her winning smile and confident manner speak to the joy she brings to the topic of gardening. Within the wide-ranging hobby of gardening, Fran concentrates on roses and lilies. A graduate of the Home Economics Faculty of the University of Manitoba, she worked for many years as a home economist for the Manitoba Department of Agriculture. Her variety of skills have made Fran a sought after judge of horticulture, food and clothing at summer fairs. She is involved with horticultural groups and activities in the St. James area of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she gardens with her husband Darcy. She is a regular contributor to The Prairie Garden and an avid gardener.
Click here to read a 2010 article about The
Prairie Garden Committee
from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Some of the committee at the 2009 Award for Excellence
lunch: (l-r) Ed Czarnecki, Jean Pomo, Colleen Zacharias, (award recipients: Ken Ivey & Brenda Cameron), Roger Brown, Reg Curle, (sitting) Susanne Olver & Linda Pearn.
From left: Co-chairs Ed Czarnecki and Colleen Zacharias, Susanne Olver, Sandy Venton, Richard Denesiuk, Jean Pomo, Fran Wershler, Carla Hrycyna and Valerie Denesiuk
(photo Boris Minkevich - Winnipeg Free Press)