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Upcoming Events

The events listed here are video conferences unless stated otherwise.  All will be organized in accordance with Covid-19 restrictions, so check back for changes.

Past Events

Thursday Sept 8: Plant Sale and talk by Janet Melrose on Rewilding the Urban Garden

Check out CRAGS’ annual “Last Chance Plant Sale” on Thursday Sept 8 from 6pm to 7pm, outdoors at Lakeview Community Hall, 6110 – 34th Street SW, Calgary.  Member growers will offer a variety of alpine and other plants and now that the heat wave has passed, we should be able to get them in the ground!

Then at 7:30pm, we are delighted to welcome Calgary speaker Janet Melrose, who will talk about Rewilding the Urban Garden. 

This will be a combined in-person and Zoom meeting, to be held at Lakeview Community Hall.  Members will receive an emailed reminder with the Zoom links.  Non-members who wish to view the Zoom talk may register at Eventbrite for $8.

Wilding or perhaps more appropriately “rewilding” the garden looks gardens in a different way than the usual tamed spaces that have dominated gardening for the past few decades. Instead of attempting to control nature the goal is to invite nature back to our gardens.

In our current environment where climate change, loss of habitat and unceasing human incursions into wild areas is putting all species at risk, letting go of old values and ways of gardening and embracing the wild side is an important way for gardeners to contribute to creating healthy ecosystems, with habitat for wildlife, and even cumulatively modify our climate.

This talk will look at the down to earth design and cultural practices that we can use to make our gardens refugia for pollinators, other beneficial insects, birds and other life.

Janet Melrose is ‘Calgary’s Cottage Gardener’- Garden consultant, coach, educator and Horticultural Therapist. Her motto is ‘Grow, Nurture, and Bloom’.

She shares her passion for gardening and knowledge through workshops and writing for ‘The Gardener for Cold Climates’ and ‘Calgary Gardening’ magazines, and now co-author with Sheryl Normandeau for the Guides for Prairie Gardeners series of books.


Sunday July 24: Water Features Workshop Part 2, with Rob Staniland

This is a hands-on workshop that will look at the creation of a beautiful water feature. Rob has extensive experience in creating water gardens and has learned the intricacies of creating a functional water system and how to avoid some common mistakes. Rob will do a quick review of some of the material from Part One (a talk in early 2020), using his extensive pond and stream system as an example. The class will continue on with: an onsite review of the types and purposes of water features; key interests and design considerations; discussion of materials and construction and mock-up of some of the most important details and techniques involved in creating a beautiful water feature. Participants will be able to ask questions about their specific interests and there may be an opportunity for a case study.

Workshop will go rain or shine, so please dress accordingly for the weather. Bring a good pair of work gloves and sturdy footwear, also a hat, water bottle, sunscreen and bug repellent.

Date and time: July 24 @ 9-1  rain or shine

Cost: Members $25  Non-members $35. Limit of 15 participants.
Please register through Eventbrite
If you unable to pay through Eventbrite, please email Elaine Rude to make other arrangements.

Registered participants will receive an email providing directions to the workshop site in the Bearspaw area, NW of Calgary.

Saturday June 18: CANCELLED: Planting at Silver Springs Crevice & Native Plants garden

May 28 at the Crevice Garden in Silver Springs

We will reschedule this session when there is less rain in the forecast.

We will be planting some seedlings of native and alpine plants that were grown in the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs nursery beds, into the Crevice and Native Plant areas. Lots of things are blooming so it is a good time to visit these gardens.

Come and learn the techniques for planting into crevices and sand. Bring your weeder, trowel, small bucket, gloves, kneepads, etc.  For more information please contact Linda at vp@crags.ca

Thurs June 9, 7:00pm: Heinjo Lahring on the Alpine Water Garden

Heinjo Lahring

Heinjo Lahring from Bearberry Creek Greenhouses will speak about the magic that water can bring to the garden.

Topics will include:

• What you should know before you dig
• The backyard oasis
• Aquatic plant selection
• Providing for water plant needs
• Create – maintain – refresh

Biologists Jan and Heinjo Lahring will be celebrating 40 years of growing ornamental and native plants at Bearberry Creek Greenhouses, Nursery & Water Gardens located in the foothills west of Sundre, Alberta. Heinjo is author of the book ‘Field Guide to the Water and Wetland Plants of the Prairie Provinces’. Their nursery specializes in growing aquatic plants for northern gardens.

This will be a combined in-person and Zoom meeting, to be held at Lakeview Community Hall, 6110 – 34th Street SW, Calgary, starting at 7:00pm.  Members will receive an emailed reminder with the Zoom links.

Sunday May 15 9:00am: Workshop on Construction of a Crevice Garden

Instructor Rob Staniland

Place:  Staniland residence in Bearspaw area (directions will be provided to participants)

Date and time:  Sunday May 15  9:00am – 12:00pm

Participants:  Maximum 10

Cost:  $25 members  $35 non-members.  Please click this Eventbrite Link  to register and pay for the workshop.  If you are unable to pay online through Eventbrite, please email Elaine to make payment arrangements.

Crevice Garden in Calgary area

This hands-on workshop will begin by identifying design considerations for composing crevice gardens by observing the characteristics of a variety of existing gardens features. The first hour will be a discussion on the stone and materials required as well as on shapes, orientations and surface and internal drainage.  In the second hour, participants will have some hands on practice in crevice construction using various stone types, especially related to their size and shape (stratified, cubic, random and round) .

Participants will then help finalize the design details and begin the construction of a new crevice feature intended to modify existing exposures on a south facing slope.  The goal is to both exaggerate and reduce the influence of the sun.

As this is an outside workshop please dress accordingly for the weather.  Bring a good pair of work gloves and a sturdy pair of work boots as we will be working with heavy rock, also a hat, water bottle, sunscreen and bug repellent.


Saturday May 14, 10am to 2pm: Year of the Garden at Silver Springs Crevice Garden

Everyone is welcome to join CRAGS and BGSS at this informal event to celebrate Year of the Garden in Canada.   CRAGS and the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs collaborated on the building of an Alpine Crevice Garden and Native Plants Garden, starting in 2016. Here is the BGSS invitation:

The year of the Garden in Canada:  this proclamation is a first for Canada and the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs is very committed to participating with multiple activities through the spring, summer, and fall.  In honor of this celebration the Year of the Garden Committee is asking you to plant ‘Red” this year.  Think of all the possibilities between the red blooms, red leaves and red produce like apples, tomatoes etc.

Please come and join us as we partner with various specialty gardeners to highlight and display our gardens.  On May 14 we will be partnering with the Calgary Rock and Alpine Gardens Association.  They will be providing a learning session at the Alpine, Crevice and Native Plant Garden in the Northeast corner of the park.  It will occur from 10 am until 2 pm and will have experts on crevice gardening in attendance

Thurs May 12 at 7:30pm: Panel on building and planting troughs

A panel of CRAGS gardeners will share their knowledge and experience with troughs. Chaired by Ranald Gault who wrote extensive articles on troughs for our newsletter, the panelists are Rob Staniland, Cathy Kurio, and Barb Portlock.  Troughs are insulated outdoor containers showcasing miniature rock gardens.  They are an excellent way for beginning rock gardeners to start working with alpine plants, rocks, and soils.

Trough by Bob Ruault


This will be a hybrid meeting — members are invited to come to an in-person meeting at Lakeview Community Hall, and the meeting will be shared through Zoom for those who prefer to stay at home.


Thurs Apr 14, 7:30pm: Shawn Hillis on Woodlanders: Companion Plants for the Woodland Garden

Come see the adorable unique plants that Shawn grows here in his Calgary home and talk about the plants he is so passionate about, especially Cypripedium orchids.  This is an online talk.  Members will receive a reminder with the Zoom link a day before the talk, and do not have to pre-register. Non-members are invited to either join CRAGS (on the Members page), or register for this event for a small fee via Eventbrite.

Cypripedium calcicola

Red seal Journeymen landscape gardener Shawn Hillis has more than two decades of accomplishments with a diversified palate of experience in the green industry.  Shawn is the sole proprietor and the inspired spirit behind Garden Slippers.  Garden Slippers is a small nursery dedicated to propagating native temperate orchid species and their hybrids. Garden Slippers is proud to be in its 15th season of informing, educating and making these rare exotic gems available to the Canadian gardener.  The Canadian Orchid Congress has awarded Shawn with a career achievement award for his tireless efforts in bringing these exotic gems into cultivation here in Canada. Garden Slippers has received 8 Awards of merit from the American Orchid Society including the seldom awarded Artistic Merit for a display by a grower for the following cultivars:
Cypripedium Pixi ‘Pop’
Cypripedium Pixi ‘Purple Haze’
Cypripedium parviflorum var pubescens ‘Bumble Bee’
Cypripedium franchetii ‘Foothills’
Cypripedium Ventricosum ‘Jenny’
Cypripedium guttatum “Spot”
Cypripedium Victoria “Secret”
Cypripedium Monto ‘Pronto’
Cypripedium Sabine Pastel “Ivory Rose”
Cypripedium x ventricosum Goldschuh “Midas”


Sun Mar 13, 2022 at 1:00pm MDT: Growing in a Rock Garden, with Elisabeth Zander

Elizabeth Zander in her garden

Elisabeth will discuss methods of growing alpine plants in various types of rock gardens: walls, troughs, bogs, roofs, stairs, crevices, and others.

Elisabeth Zander is the past president for the North American Rock Garden Society and its current webmaster. She retired from computer programming a few years ago and is now busier than ever. Elisabeth lives in the Berkshire Hills of CT with her spouse, 2 mini Aussies and a cat who all help her manage her extensive gardens. (The dogs keep the numerous chipmunks, moles, voles and rabbits at bay. The cat eliminates the voles and mice.) The garden was awarded the Linc and Timmy Foster Millstream Garden Award in 2018. Elisabeth was awarded the Marvin Black Award in 2021

This is an online talk. CRAGS Members will receive an emailed invitation and an emailed reminder with the Zoom link. Non-members are welcome to register for the talk on Eventbrite ($8 tickets) or purchase a CRAGS membership on the Members page.


Thurs Feb 10, 2022 7:30pm: Paul Spriggs on Cracks and Crevices

Cracks and Crevices — a Zoom talk on crevice gardens presented by Paul Spriggs

Paul at work

Paul, who spoke to CRAGS in 2016 , will touch on aspects of crevice gardening including History, Design, and Construction. He will also show some examples of some fine international crevice gardens, and talk about some of his favourite plants suitable for this type of garden.

Paul Spriggs has been rock gardening for roughly 23 years and building crevice gardens for about 16 years. He is an avid plant explorer, photographer, mountaineer, owner of Spriggs Gardens Landscaping company, and past President of the Vancouver Island Rock and Alpine Garden Society. He has a passion for all wild plants especially those of dwarf stature and collects and cultivates them at various gardens in his hometown of Victoria, BC, Canada. Paul has learned the craft of crevice garden building directly from one of it’s innovators, Zdenek Zvolanek, of the Czech republic, and in the past decade and a half, has built many gardens in public parks and private homes that range in size from small feature troughs, to large installations involving many tonnes of stone. Paul is passionate about spreading the word of this style, through speaking to garden clubs all over the west, and by giving workshops for those keen on learning the finer points of this developing art form. He has just finished his work on the first North American book on Crevice gardening With co-author Kenton Seth of Colorado, due out spring of 2022.

This is an online talk.  Members will receive a reminder with the Zoom link a day before the talk, and do not have to pre-register. Non-members are invited to either join CRAGS (on the Members page), or register for this event for a small fee via Eventbrite.

Thurs Nov 18 2021 7:00pm: Elaine Rude on The World of Unusual Bulbs

Bulbs are fascinating structures and are present on all continents other than Antarctica.  They grow in a variety of different environments including some of the harshest and wettest.

Iris bucharica

Only a few are commonly available in the trade but there are so many more unusual hardy and tender ones we can grow in our gardens, containers or as houseplants.  It can be a fun exercise sourcing  bulbs or seeds so let’s delve in to some of these unusual types.

Speaker Elaine Rude is a CRAGS and CHS member who instructs Master Gardener courses, gives talks and interviews on gardening topics, and runs Paintbrush Garden Design and Consulting in Calgary.

This talk will be preceded by CRAGS’ Annual General Meeting at 7:00pm, which will take 30 minutes or less. Members are encouraged to attend (virtually) to help keep our club’s affairs in order.

This is an online talk. CRAGS Members will receive an emailed invitation and an emailed reminder with the Zoom link. Non-members are welcome to register for the talk on Eventbrite or purchase a CRAGS membership.

Thurs Oct 14 7:30pm: Dr Karen Johnson on Wildflowers of Churchill

Dr Karen Johnson did research and led tours for many years based at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, MB. After a Ph.D. in botany, she worked as a post-doc for three years on the International Biological Program, an inventory of the biological communities of the province and attempts to preserve them. She was Curator of Botany at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature from 1972 to 2001.

Rhododendron lapponicum (Lapland Rosebay)

Lomatogonium rotatum

Karen worked on museum exhibits, co-authored “Wildflowers of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Region” among many other publications, taught botanical courses, and was an Adjunct Professor of Botany at the University of Manitoba. Her non-museum contributions include serving on the provincial Ecological Reserves Advisory Committee for nearly 15 years, on the Shilo Environmental Advisory Committee for over 20 years and on the National Plants Subcommittee of COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) for more than 10 years. She has studied and photographed alpine plants in Colorado, New Hampshire, Switzerland, Scotland and Nepal as well as their arctic counterparts in Manitoba and Alaska.

She will introduce us to the arctic and alpine flora of the Churchill area.

This is an online talk. CRAGS Members will receive an emailed invitation and an emailed reminder with the Zoom link. Non-members are welcome to register for the talk on Eventbrite or purchase a CRAGS membership.

Thurs Sep 9 2021 7:30pm: Liz Knowles on Alpines, Lilies, and Endemics of Japan

Liz has been gardening for 45 years in Hockley Valley ON. She will cover her 3 weeks of travel through Honshu and Hokkaido, Japan, in June/July 2019.

Dicentra peregrina copyright L. Knowles

Observing plants from sea level to 2100 m, some of which are familiar to N America as well as circumpolar alpines.  Liz will cover species Lilies that have been used extensively in breeding oriental lilies as well as an impressive array of endemicsThis is an online talk.  CRAGS Members will receive an emailed invitation and an emailed reminder with the Zoom link. Non-members are welcome to register for the talk on Eventbrite or purchase a CRAGS membership.