February 15, 2010
Dear Editor:

When I read Rod McDonald’s column in November Landscape Trades on women in the landscape industry, I knew I had to put my two-cents worth in about this topic. The experience I write about started in the early 1970s.

My eldest daughter was studying at Humber College as a horticultural technician. It was a fairly new program at that time, as there was not much available in horticultural training. It was a three-year program.

By the end of her second year, I contacted the Royal Botanical Gardens. I knew a few people there, and asked if they would be willing to hire a female horticultural student for the summer. It took some convincing, but in the end they said OK, so in the summer of 1974 she became the first female gardener at the RBG.

It was a newsworthy hire, for there was a big front page photo printed in the Hamilton Spectator of her working in the rock gardens.

After she finished her third year at Humber College, she started working for Braun Nurseries in Mount Hope, mostly in the shipping department. Frank Braun was very pleased with her work in re-organizing the shipping department, and later on streamlining the office. But when Mr. Braun retired, she decided it was time to move on.

She moved to Oakville and started something very new, a horticultural trade magazine. The first copies were more like church bulletins, shoved in an envelope and sent as free copies to a few horticultural businesses. After a while the little magazine grew. Her sister Helen did the artwork for the front cover for a number of years. I don’t know all of the details, but this little magazine became a success story. Eventually, it became too big for her to handle, and she sold the magazine to Landscape Ontario. She stayed on as the editorial director and publisher for a number of years, but eventually, it was time to move on again. The name of this magazine – Horticulture Review.

As of now, she is the Growers Manager of the Canadian Nursery and Landscape Association, and, by now, most of you will know the person I am talking about.

It is my daughter, Rita Weerdenburg, and this piece was submitted by her proud father.

Ted Weerdenburg
Burlington, Ont.