What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Perennial Learning

What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Perennial Learning
By Melanie Priesnitz,  Conservation Horticulturist

May is a month of renewal in the garden. The perennials and the gardeners are all well-rested from a long winter and ready to start anew and soak up some sun and new experiences. It’s taken me the last eighteen years as head gardener at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens to learn that a garden is an ever-evolving process. After spending two long seasons helping to plant the 6-acre botanical garden I naively remember thinking on opening day, September 14, 2002, that all of the hard work was done. I quickly realized that a garden is never finished and that the Botanical Gardens and I had a lifetime of learning, growing, planting, and re-planting, to experience together. I love that each spring the gardens shift ever so slightly. Birds nest in new places, short-lived perennials re-seed in slightly new locations, limbs are lost in winter storms, and new growth forms on trees and shrubs.

As gardens are ever evolving, so gardeners too must learn to be flexible and ensure that we are always open to learning and changing. We are lucky to have a great roster of gardening experts in Atlantic Canada to learn from. I am very excited to be welcoming Newfoundland gardening guru Todd Boland back to Acadia to share his 40 years of gardening experience with us. Todd is launching yet another beautiful plant book, this time a hardcover filled with full-colour photographs of his favourite perennials for growing in Atlantic Canada. “This book offers experienced and novice gardeners alike an easy reference and how-to guide to ensure success with rock gardens, coastal gardens, herb gardens, or pollinator gardens, “ says Boland. “I’ve collected this knowledge from my experience and my career as a research horticulturist at the Memorial University Botanical Gardens. Using these tips, I can help anyone improve their perennial gardens and ensure they thrive.”

Boulder Publications is bringing Boland to Wolfville on Thursday, May 17. Stopping first at The Box of Delights Bookstore from 5-6pm for a book signing, Boland will then continue to the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre Auditorium where, from 7-9pm, he’ll give us a talk on Atlantic perennials. If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Todd talk, make this a priority. He’s an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker with a great sense of humour. It will be the perfect way to get inspired for a new season of learning and growing with your garden.

I hope that in another twenty years I will follow in Todd’s (and my mother’s) footsteps and begin writing a series of books based on my forty years of gardening experience with plants native to the Acadian Forest region. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy learning from others and writing a column in this great local paper. In honour of Mother’s Day, I’d like to give a shout out to my mom, Wendy Priesnitz, for passing down her love of writing to me and for editing these columns from time to time.

Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens
Acadia University