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Upcoming Events

CRAGS is working on alternatives to our traditional monthly meetings at Lakeview Hall, so please check back here for announcements about meetings in 2020-2021.

Thursday Nov 19 2020: Carol Huggler on Barrens and Bogs: Plant Hunting in Newfoundland

Zoom Conference at 7:00pm:   (Note date change!)  Our first Zoom meeting will feature a wonderful slide presentation by member Carol Huggler, showing the unique landscapes, geology and flora of Newfoundland, including some very special endemic species. In 2018, Carol Huggler and her husband Ken attended the NARGS annual conference in St John’s, Newfoundland.  After the conference they took part in the special tour organized by Todd Boland to the western peninsula of Newfoundland, which has unique geology and plants much different from those seen in the rest of the province. Carol has a background in art and horticulture and has been a CRAGS member for a long time.  If you recall her earlier slide shows, the rocks are just as prominent as the plants!    Members will receive an emailed invitation to this meeting which will start at 7:00pm.

Thursday Feb 11 2021: Matt Mattus on “Botanizing in the Land of the Blue Poppy”

Zoom Conference:  Matt Mattus, a former NARGS president, visited Yunnan and Western China in 2018, and this is an account of the wonderful plants observed. Most people consider gardening just a hobby, but Matt sees little difference between his obsession with plants, biology and with design. Truly a life-long plantsman, Matt was raised (and still lives on) his ancestors’ family property in Massachusetts where three generations of gardeners have lived, and grown. Today, he has added his thumbprint with a large glass greenhouse, an alpine garden and interesting collections of plants. He is past president of the North American Rock Garden Society, and has spent time as editor of the American Primrose Society journal. He has most recently published a beautiful volume called “Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening:Rare Varieties – Unusual Options – Plant Lore and Guidance”.  His blog is at http://growingwithplants.com

Members will receive an emailed invitation.

Past Events

Thursday March 12 2020: Mike Bone on “Steppe Plants for the Rock Garden”

Mike Bone in the field (Lesotho)

The Steppes of the world house many thousands of interesting plants. The dry often rocky environments make a wonderful place to explore for plants suited to the unique situations created by rock and crevice plants. In this lecture we will discuss what makes a steppe, why the plants are so well suited for rock gardens, as well as look at some plants that have found a special home in the Denver Botanic Gardens Steppe Garden.

Mike Bone has been with the Denver Botanic gardens since 2002 where he has focused on the study of plants of the steppe regions of the world and their adjacent mountain ranges. Mike has travelled to Central and Middle Asia, Southern Africa, and extensively throughout the American west to collect seed and study the plants and ecology of the steppes. When not travelling Mike oversees the Steppe Garden, trial gardens, plant breeding, and propagation of wild collected material brought into the gardens. Mike has worked with Plant Select® and is an enthusiastic gardener and collector of plants. He has written articles for several gardening journals and is a contributor for 6 books published through the Denver Botanic Gardens including Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions. Mike is currently Curator of the Steppe Collection at DBG.

Sunday Mar 1 2020: Workshop on Water Features in the Rock & Alpine Garden

Waterfall in Rob’s garden with local sandstone.

This workshop (Part 1 of a series) will address the potential benefits of adding water features to the rock garden setting, including aesthetics and the potential for unique planting environments.

We will describe the many types of features possible, and deal with design, construction and operation. Participants are encouraged to view some online material that we will send links for, to learn the basics. Many additional topics can then be covered such as:

  • Water, wetland, and moraine plants
  • Attracting birds and wildlife
  • Our climate and locally available materials
  • Water quality and common issues

Instructor for Part 1 is CRAGS member Rob Staniland, an Environmental Biologist who has, over 40 years and two sites, successfully incorporated virtually all listed types of water features into his rock and alpine gardens.

The workshop will be held at the Country Hills Library on Sunday, March 1st, from 1:00 to 4:30 pm. Cost is $25 for members, $35 for member families and $35 for non-members. Please email secretary@crags.ca to register.

We plant to conduct a follow-up Workshop on Sunday, April 5. This would be tailored to the interests and needs of participants. We also hope to offer participants the opportunity to join a guided day of visits in late spring to some local gardens that illustrate the use of water features in the rock garden.
If you already have a water feature, we invite you to be part of this collaborative experience. Whether you wish to attend the informative presentation or not, please consider opening your garden to workshop participants this spring or early summer.

Thurs Feb 27 7pm: Members’ Information Session #3

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, is where your alpine plants should be, not your gardening progress! Join other CRAGS members as we share our problems and solutions related to rock and alpine gardening in this challenging Chinook climate.

Our next meet-up will be hosted by Patti O’Keefe on Thursday, February 27 from 7 to 9 pm. There will be discussion focused on CRAGS favourite sources, including rock, sand, soils, potting materials and seed. This event is open to members only and there is no cost. Tea and water provided. Please reply to this email if you plan to attend and the address in SE Calgary will be supplied.

You are encouraged to bring your questions and a few photos of your garden that would provide context for your queries, and remember to add in a few shots of your favourite plants. Spaces are limited and filled in succession by email replies to president@crags.ca.

This is part of a new CRAGS program of informal get-togethers meant to bring experienced and novice gardeners together to share questions and stories. This is an opportunity to:

  •     Ask for solutions to your gardening problems.
  •     Hear what works and what doesn’t work.
  •     Share your successes.
  •     Grumble about the weather.
  •     Bounce your ideas for new garden spaces off those who know.
  •     Learn more about plants that interest you.
  •     Get to know other members.

Sunday Jan 26 2020: Greenhouse Design and Management Workshop

Have you been dreaming about a greenhouse for starting seeds and extending the season for your plants? There are still a few spaces left for our Jan 26 Greenhouse Workshop. We are pleased to have as instructor Daniel Walker of Reader Rock Garden, who will cover building options, insulation, heating and cooling, lighting, ventilation and other basic topics. All this and much more will be covered, as we sit surrounded in a greenhouse by his trays of seedlings. If it is nice out, we will tour some of the greenhouses! We will also be arranging greenhouse tours in the spring to get comments from the owners, including issues they have encountered and how they overcame them.
Cost $25 for members, $35 for family memberships, $35 for non-members. Workshop goes 1pm to 3pm. Please register with Patti O’Keefe at president@crags.ca.

Thursday Jan 16 2020: CRAGS Garden Information Session #2

On Thursday Jan 16th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm we welcome you to the another in a series of CRAGS Information Sessions.

Join us in this new CRAGS program of informal get-togethers meant to bring experienced and novice gardeners together to share questions and stories. This is an opportunity to:

Ask for solutions to your gardening problems.
Hear what works and what doesn’t work.
Share your successes.
Grumble about the weather.
Bounce your ideas for new garden spaces off those who know.
Learn more about plants that interest you.
Get to know other members.

The host for this get-together is Joan Ganley and the experienced gardeners include Rob Staniland. Questions are welcome on all garden topics, but special attention will be on gardening tools.

This event is for CRAGS members only. For more information or to register, please email secretary@crags.ca.

Thursday Jan 9, 2020: Annual Potluck dinner and Rock Gardens of the Vancouver Area

The Vancouver garden of Chris and Jane Byra

Join us at 6:30pm for CRAGS’ annual potluck.  After supper, we will enjoy a presentation from Patti O’Keefe with photos by Shirley Kabeary. Patti and Shirley visited Vancouver in late August 2019 to pick up an order of dwarf conifers for CRAGS. They also were fortunate enough to visit several nurseries and private rock gardens. Despite the late season, they had rave reviews of the places they visited, so we are excited to see their photos.

Sunday Dec 8 2019: Propagation Workshop (now full)

Registration is now closed for our Propagation Workshop on Sunday, December 8th, 11:00 to 3:00.

We are fortunate to have instruction by CRAGS member Stephanie Ferguson, an alpine and steppe plant grower who has vast experience with germinating and growing plants from many regions of the globe. She will share her basic procedures for seed starting and demonstrate specialized techniques to promote success with some species that are difficult to germinate, including Irises. Stephanie invites participants to send names of any problem seeds they would like to bring to the workshop and she will provide advice as time permits.

The workshop goes from 11:00am to 3:00pm so please bring a lunch. Beverages will be provided. There will be an opportunity to purchase seed starting supplies (planting media, pots, trays and tags) after the workshop. The workshop location will be in NW Calgary.

Cost is $25 for members ($35 for non-members). This includes the CRAGS Propagation Document developed over the past few years. We encourage those unfamiliar with the basics to review the provided information online ahead of time. Spaces are limited. Please email secretary@crags.ca to register.

Friday Nov 29 2019: CRAGS Garden Information Session #1

On Friday, November 29th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm we welcome you to the first in a series of CRAGS Information Sessions.

Join us as we kick off this new CRAGS program of informal get-togethers meant to bring experienced and novice gardeners together to share questions and stories. This is an opportunity to:

Ask for solutions to your gardening problems.
Hear what works and what doesn’t work.
Share your successes.
Grumble about the weather.
Bounce your ideas for new garden spaces off those who know.
Learn more about plants that interest you.
Get to know other members.

The host for this get-together is Shirley Kabeary and the experienced gardeners include Yaro Horachek and Patti O’Keefe. Questions are welcome on all garden topics, but special attention will be on crevice garden building and Saxifrages.

This event is for CRAGS members only. For more information or to register please email secretary@crags.ca.

Thurs Nov 14, 2019: AGM, and Stephanie Ferguson on “Pleasing the Steppe Desert Iris”

In this brief, post AGM, talk, Stephanie Ferguson will present a general overview of the Near Eastern Irises she has grown so far.

Two species of Iris are seen in this crevice garden setting.

The emphasis will be, as always, on plant culture and the recreation of wild environments in an urban setting.

If time permits, she will provide a demonstration of “forced germination”….a mechanical way of speeding the germination of some iris species.
Stephanie Ferguson is a Calgary artist and crevice gardener.

Thurs Oct 10, 2019: Members’ Photo Night

We would love to see our fellow members’ photos from the last year or two, or your mini-talk about a garden topic! If you’ve had some great hiking or travelling, please show us the wildflowers and scenery. If you have a favourite garden plant or technique, please bring photos. Pictures of gardens – yours or others’ – are always welcome, whether established or under construction. Please let Linda know what you are bringing (vp@crags.ca) and either bring your photos on a memory stick or email them to her.

Thursday Sep 12 2019: Lawrence Harder on “Functional Beauty: How Flowers Work”

Lawrence Harder on Parker Ridge

Also – come early for the Last Chance Plant Sale! Lawrence Harder’s research has been in the area of plant pollination and reproductive ecology. He has travelled extensively and CRAGS has enjoyed his photos and accounts of plant hunting. This talk will give us some botanical background for the plants we enjoy. Lawrence is a CRAGS member whose extensive rock garden may see him more now that he has retired from the U of C.

Thursday June 13 2019: Marcela Ferreyra (Argentina), The Andean Range and its Flowers in Patagonia

We are delighted to welcome to CRAGS, Marcela Ferreya, who is a Biology Sciences Professor who lives and does botanical research in Patagonia, Argentina.  Marcela will speak to us on “The Andean range and its flowers in Patagonia”.

Her ground-breaking research has led to the publication of “High Mountain Flowers of the Patagonian Andes” – English and Spanish-(2006) and “High Mountain Flowers in Patagonia” -Spanish- (2018).  Marcela collaborated on “The Laws of the High Mountains” -Spanish- (2010); published several papers and articles about this flora; worked for National Park Administration surveying Flora and Vegetation in National Parks in Patagonia. In addition, Marcela published “Flowers of the Patagonian Steppe” -English and  Spanish- (2012). Recently she published a book about the Valdivian Forest: “Flowers of Puerto

Prof. Marcela Ferreyra, Argentina

Blest -Valdivian Forest” -Spanish- (2018).  Currently Marcela is working on: “Flowers of the Forest in Patagonia” and “Flowers of the Austral Monte”, both in Spanish. All of these publications feature her excellent photography.

Between 2005 and 2009 Marcela worked in a nursery trying to understand the cultivation of High Andean and Steppe Flowers and produce some protocol of cultivation. She helped in the establishment of a little nursery in the steppe, in the rural community of Pilcaniyeu. She also headed a project to recover the vegetation in a high mountain trail in Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz. Between 2010 and 2017 she lead a group of students that constructed a small Botanic Garden at the Educational Institute.

Marcela has worked as an educator at all levels between 1982 until her retirement in 2018. She continues to teach wherever she travels.