September 15, 2012
By Martha Walsh

A two-day special meeting of the International Plant Propagators Society (IPPS), Eastern Region, took place in Ottawa on July 25 and 26.

The IPPS is a world-wide organization of professionals engaged in the propagation and production of plants. Its membership also includes those who teach and conduct research into plant propagation and production.

The organization’s mission is to provide a forum for education and information exchange among plant professionals, and be recognized as the premier resource for ornamental plant production information and education.

The IPPS Eastern Region is one of eight within the IPPS around the world. Most members of the Eastern Region live in the northern and eastern half of the U.S. and eastern Canada.

The two-day special meeting, hosted by Eastern Region member Keith Osborne of Gro-Bark (Ontario), was sponsored by Kam’s Growers Supplies, Plant Products, Milleniumsoil Coir, Agrium Direct Solutions, Gro-Bark and Davey Trees.  

The presentations included  A history of Isabella Preston and her introductions at the Central Experimental Farm; Composting nursery waste and utilizing the organic matter in field production, by Case Vanderkruk from Connon NVK; Things you need to know about water treatment from Dr. Youbin Zheng, University of Guelph; Design and implementation of a nursery bio security plan by Bart Brusse of Sheridan Nurseries; Heritage plants and gardens of Upper Canada Village by Brian Henderson, and Invasive species and the nursery by Dr. Bruce Fill, CFIA.

Dinner concluded with special guest speaker Ed Lawrence enlightening attendees to a gardener’s view of the nursery industry.

Day two of the tour gave attendees some very special privileges, such as a private behind-the-scenes tour of Rideau Hall’s private gardens and greenhouses. The tour was conducted by Mark Burleton, manager of grounds and greenhouses for the National Capital Commission.

Rideau Hall was designated as a classified heritage property by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office (FHBRO) in 1986. The designation is the highest heritage significance in Canada. The private grounds at Rideau Hall are no longer open to the public.

Originally styled as an English country estate, it now serves as gardens for the Governor General in residence and his official duties for dignitaries and governmental functions, which can include five special functions in any given day. The tour also took the group through the greenhouses and the recently renovated Palmhouse.

As a heritage site, all renovations to both the gardens and structures are kept historically accurate through design specifications that must be followed according to governmental regulations.   

The next stop on the tour was the Dominion Arboretum, located at the Central Experimental Farm agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC). The arboretum opened in 1889 and covers 26 hectares of rolling land opposite the Rideau Canal. It displays a wide range of well-established trees and shrubs, including 1,700 different species and varieties. Although the Ottawa area has a climate of Zone 5A, the Arboretum’s topography produces microclimates warming it by one zone. Its collection includes magnolias, azalea and several other fringe trees, including Metasequoia and Liriodendron. It is a favourite attraction for Ottawa residents and tourists.
Also included in the visit was the new $8.4 million Integrated Growth Facility (IGF) greenhouse. The IGF supports and enhances the various types of research currently done at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)’s Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre, including plant genetics, food safety and quality, environmental health, and bioproducts and bioprocesses.

Another highlight of the day was a visit to the new green roof and green wall at Algonquin College’s new Centre of Construction and Excellence. The green wall is a five-story bio wall in the building’s atrium. It is covered with plants that help control the indoor environment through humidity and filtering the air. The roof in this new centre is an undulated green garden that adds greenspace to the campus and helps with insulation, while lowering the demands on the heating and cooling systems of the new Centre of Construction Excellence.

The final stop of the day was for lunch and a tour of Ferguson Forest Centre. This included the greenhouses and some of the 300 hectares of forested Crown land that surrounds the facility. It was established as the G. Howard Ferguson Forest Centre, operated by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Following closure of the nursery by the province in 1995, the tree seedling production land was sold to the Township of Oxford on the Rideau in 1997. A non-profit corporation was formed in 2007, known as the Ferguson Forest Centre Corporation (FFCC).  It leases the seedling production land from the Municipality of North Grenville and continues to produce seedlings to supply the demands of private landowners, forest industry as well as numerous other agencies for large and small planting projects all over southern and eastern Ontario.  

The next IPPS Eastern Ontario Region event is the annual conference in Brandywine Valley, Penn. More information on the Eastern Region of IPPS can be found at