Gardening fans pack lodge for presentation by Butchart director

For Trail’s Community in Bloom Society, nabbing a renowned horticulturalist to speak to local gardeners was a small triumph but the crowd that turned out at the Colombo Lodge Tuesday to hear his presentation made it a huge success.

“Oh my god were we excited – we had over 200 people, it was amazing,” said Bloom organizer Lana Rodlie.

Richard Los, director of horticulture at Butchart Gardens near Victoria, narrated a slideshow – a stunning presentation of the seasons of the family-owned 55-acre garden.

He showed an array of gardens at different times of the year, relating the 107-year-old history and the special events organized throughout the seasons.

“It was really well done and people were really impressed . . . he was there for at least an hour afterwards answering questions.”

The bloom society expected 60 to 100 people but interest from so many eager green thumbs from surrounding areas like Castlegar and Nelson filled the Lodge.

“I think the advertising really helped because we got a donation from Columbia Power and we put the word out amongst all our clubs and there are so many gardeners.”

The Colombo Lodge was an appropriate venue as it won the inaugural Butchart Gardens reclamation award in 2009. The Gardens were built on an old quarry, just as the Colombo Piazza garden was reclaimed from a parking lot at the foot of a smelter, said Colombo president Larry Martin.

“We thought if we could do something in our minds that was spectacular, maybe the rest of Rossland Avenue could do something – but that’s still a work in progress.”

At last year’s national CiB awards in Halifax, Rodlie invited Los to Trail. After exchanging emails over the winter, they finalized his visit.

Los attended a garden show in Calgary last weekend and visited Trail on his way home.

“This was the right time of year, people are thinking about their gardens but can’t really get into them yet – it was like a pep rally,” said Rodlie.

Thanks to support of businesses and volunteers costs were minimal. The Colombo donated space, Columbia Power paid for advertising, and the rest was left to residents.

The price of admission was a non-perishable food item for Trail food banks and after all was said and done, the Salvation Army, Trail United Church and Anglican Church food banks shared a truck-load of food, said Blooms president Dan Rodlie.

Both Lana and Dan attribute the success to the support Blooms gets from the city, local clubs and businesses and of course volunteers.

“We say we have 7,400 volunteers, that’s everyone in town; anyone who plants a flower in their yard, or sweeps a sidewalk or mows a lawn, whatever, that is a volunteer in our mind,” said Dan.