Community Connections | Citizen Engagement
Environment | Sustainability
Living Standards | Food, Education And Learning
Wellness | Physical Health

Calgary Horticultural Society

We are driven by the belief that gardening enhances our environment but more importantly the quality of life in our society. We have been educating, promoting, and celebrating gardening throughout the Calgary area for more than a century.

Our Story

Why We Exist

The Calgary Horticultural Society was formed in February 1908 by a group of passionate individuals who wanted to share the love of gardening with others. In the early years, the Society focused on turning Calgary from prairie grasslands to a blooming oasis. Local business leaders dreamed of creating a more hospitable place with trees for shelter and windbreaks, irrigation and blossoms to welcome newcomers. Together with the City of Calgary, the Society planted over 20,000 trees between 1910 and 1914 and since then has become involved with a variety of community projects around Calgary. The Society and the City together have helped gardens become more eco-friendly by educating gardeners on the benefits of native and water-wise plants. Today, the Society is the largest and most active of its kind in Canada, providing a variety of workshops, events, and assistance to Calgary gardeners.

Our Impact

What We Do

Vision:  Gardening for Life! 

Mission: To encourage gardening for the enhancement of our environment and quality of life.

Values:

  • Put the fun into gardening;
  • Connect and support new and experienced gardeners;
  • Promote learning and successful gardening;
  • Work with the environment to minimize our footprint;   
  • Lead in making Calgary a city of gardening excellence.

The Society’s mandate has a strong focus on gardening education and offers Calgarians the knowledge and skills to do it well. It is driven by the belief that as the gardening community grows, the city’s quality of life is enhanced, and so is the environment. Gardening is a healthy activity growing in popularity in Calgary and across the country.

The Calgary Horticultural Society contributes to the city of Calgary in four important ways:

  • Educates Calgarians on ways and means to garden successfully in this challenging climate, and as a result, assists gardeners to enhance and beautify the city one garden at a time;
  • Works to reduce negative water quality and quantity issues through yard smart education;
  • Encourages rebuilding of the urban forest canopy by providing tree education; and
  • Contributes knowledge to food growing and building community connections through the supportive community gardens program.

Society participants can achieve these things because of our strong education focus and the philosophy that gardening is a lifelong pursuit and the mandate is creating experiences to capitalize on “gardening for life”.

In addition to providing educational opportunities, staff and volunteers work together to operate an office, host a website, publish eight online newsletters and e-news throughout the year. They host talks and workshops on site and in the community, organize and host garden tours, biannual plant shares and provide fun volunteer opportunities. Key volunteer positions include a 11-member board of directors; newsletter managing editor, writer and editors; a gardening expert advice volunteer on the website; membership administration team;  office maintenance and carpentry; three open garden tour coordinators; workshop monitors; speaker program coordinator; garden show committees and volunteers to assist in the running of the show (220 in all); a plant share committee and volunteers to assist running two events a year; and community gardens team assisting with events and working in the demonstration and teaching garden.

Volunteers work alongside the staff, which includes one full-time director and part-time employees who support and deliver the programs. Current part-time staff includes Administrative Assistant, Volunteer Coordinator, Community Gardens Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Master Gardener Coordinator and a Horticulturist.

Our Programs

How We Do It

Gardening in the Calgary area is challenging, from rapidly fluctuating temperatures and weather challenges, to cost of supplies, to actually finding space to garden. The Calgary Horticultural Society helps new and experienced gardeners learn ways to be successful by providing fun and educational programming all year round.  Programs are designed to help Calgarians enjoy a healthy, beautiful yard without compromising the environment. Volunteers play a major role in who we are, what we do and how we work.

Our Programs:

1) Workshops and Talks  – Aim to engage, inspire and educate. A wide range of topics is presented throughout the year. Trees were a major focus this year following the 2014 fall snowstorm that devastated up to 10% of the city’s canopy. Workshops are open to the public and have a fee attached for attending and to cover costs and instructor’s honorariums.

2) Demonstration and Teaching Garden at the Society OfficeThe back and front yards located at the Society’s office have been transformed from a traditional lawn into an outdoor classroom. The area includes variety of beds, spaces with yard smart modifications such as a rain garden, redirected downspouts for use with rain barrels and three large-size demonstration compost bins, and a wide range of plants and vegetables. Volunteers manage and tend the garden and classes held here enable participants to get their hands dirty.

3) The Community Gardens is designed to strengthen and promote the movement through education, the creation of a network of resources, expertise and collaborative connections to provide start-up assistance for new gardens and ongoing support for established ones. Program staff maintains an informative website and a searchable database to locate gardens; facilitate education workshops and sessions such as Kitchen Table Talks for garden leaders to share information and ideas and a bi-monthly e-news full of community information and events.  Community Gardens works closely with The City of Calgary Parks and gathers its strength and success from its association with the many other organizations in the city and province that form the network.

4) Yard Smart Education Series – Yard Smart Education Series. The purpose is to engage, educate and empower Calgarians to reduce outdoor water consumption and manage stormwater quality and quantity on their properties while learning to successfully garden.

5) Harvest and Plant Shares Plant SharesThe Society hosts two plant shares a year in the fall and spring for members to share excess plant material with other members and provide information about plants, their cultures, and habits. The Garlic Fair celebrates and promotes growing heritage garlic hardy to the Calgary climate and to maintain the cultivation of varieties of heritage garlic for future gardening generations.

6) Publications Calgary Gardening e-newsletter is created and sent out to members 8 times a year, a weekly e-news and a community gardens e-news to community garden enthusiasts and other gardening resources. We The Society also hosts a website full of resources and information, including a gardening advice services entitled: Ask the Expert where gardening questions can be posed by email and are answered by volunteer gardening experts.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

We invite you to:

Join us. We are the best and oldest resource for gardening! With discounts from local gardening businesses, informative classes, bi-annual plant shares, summer garden tours, fun volunteering opportunities, we set our members for success. Society memberships also make a super gift for the gardener in your life. For membership information see our website www.calhort.org.

Volunteer with us. Volunteer with us. The Society knows that gardening is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to share that with you. Several volunteers of the Society hold valuable positions such as board members, committee planners, workshop monitors, gardeners, garden show hosts, horticultural experts, house painters, builders and building maintainers, Calgary Gardening e-newsletter writers and editors, compost turners, pruners and more. We have a variety of opportunities to choose from. Volunteering with us is fun and educational.

Come grow with us. Sure Calgary’s growing conditions can be tricky but grow with us and learn about tools, resource, and knowledge to implement long-term, sustainable yard practices. You will find there is a lot more to this activity than one initially thinks: health, beauty, good food, friends, community, relaxation…one can garden for life!

Donate to us. The Calgary Horticultural Society is a charitable organization. Donations over $20 will be eligible for a tax receipt. Donations help sustain the organization and enable it to continue helping gardeners and communities grow for years to come. As well as support a historical gardening organization that has been educating, promoting, and celebrating gardening for more than a century.

It is through kind donors and sponsors that we continue to thrive in Calgary, so please donate now.

Stay Connected

Contact

Gail Harrison

Calgary Horticultural Society

403.287.3469

Charitable Number: 118823624RR0001

Visit Our Website

Annual Operating Budget:

552417