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Those Niagara Parks Grads Who Live/Work in Western Canada Got Together Again This Year! Also: White Strawberries.
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

March 18, 2012

A group shot of what could be called the Western Branch of The Niagara Parks Commission Botanical Garden and School of Horticulture gathering on March 2 this year at The Boathouse Restaurant in Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver). identified each person in the item here this week. Photo courtesy of Juergen Neudoerffer’s camera!


On March 2nd my old Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture classmate, David DeShane and I travelled from nearby Nanaimo across the Strait of Georgia to Horseshoe Bay for the third annual gathering of Western-Canada-based graduates of The Niagara Parks Commission [Botanical Garden and] School of Horticulture.

Dave and I actually took the ferry with Frank Schortinghuis, a semi-retired landscape designer/contractor who (now that he has retired from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver) lives in nearby Lantzville. We are the same three-some that travelled over together for both the 2010 and 2011 Alumni gatherings. What we didn’t know was that we had another Alumnus aboard—Scott Kenny who is director of parks and recreation for the City of Port Alberni located due west of us by about one-half hour. Once we arrived at Horseshoe Bay, and The Boat-house restaurant, we had considerable catching up to do.

It turned out that Dave and Scott had both worked with Edmonton parks and recreation, and had taken some wilderness trips together which were of interest to others who had also worked at Edmonton.

In the accompanying photo, taken on Juergen Neudoerffer’s Nikon camera by the waiter, I’ll identify those who were present this year.

Left to right are: Brendan Fisher who graduated in 2005. He is now in charge of the Food Garden--espaliered fruit trees and the vegetable beds and as garden arborist at the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver; Cable Baker graduated in 1995 and came out West to work with Frank Schortinghuis’ Allgreen Landscaping in the lower mainland area and when Frank decided to go into semi-retirement and move to Vancouver Island, Cable started his own company, RCB Garden Service. He remains very active with various aspects of the B.C. Landscape Nursery Association; Art Drysdale—no need to say much other than I graduated in 1961; Cam Mitchell graduated in 1998 and told us he didn’t have a job currently, but was looking—Good Luck Cam; Norma Neudoerffer, wife of Juergen, and herself still in the import/export business—also she helped Juergen organize this year’s get-together; Scott Kenny, is a landscape architect in addition to being a 1975 grad of the NPC School—and as mentioned he is director of parks and recreation in Port Alberni here on Vancouver Island; Faydra Henry (2004 grad) now works for Novus Plants, a wholesale nursery based near Sidney on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island--they specialize in offering 'New, Weird and Wonderful Plants'--it has been a huge but gratifying Latin learning curve she said last year, “I am still in awe of all the plants we are able to grow here, not to mention the exceptional work season we have, I saw an entire bed of Eranthis hyemalis (winter Aconite) just around the corner two weeks ago, and it is only the beginning of March; Frank Schortinghuis is the next (1967) grad in our photo and I’ve written quite a bit about him already, but one thing unmentioned is that last December he had a hip operation, and while still walking with a cane, he is getting along quite well, including having returned to his landscaping work on a one-half day basis; then beside him is Dave DeShane (also class of 1961) who also had a hip operation since our gathering one year ago and he’s back to bike riding and plans to bike for two weeks in Europe this summer; next to Faydra is Rachelle Tessier whose graduation year was 1999--she is grounds department supervisor for School District 43, Coquitlam in the Greater Vancouver area; moving to the back row again, that is Martin Moore in the red jacket—he’s the third one of our class of ’61 in attendance, and he is retired from the District of North Vancouver parks and still recuperating from major surgery not long before our first gathering in 2010, and this year he is really looking a lot better; and that is his wife Kaarina smiling in front of him; beside Kaarina is Robert Watson, a 1971 grad who was attending his first such gathering—he is maintenance foreman with Enviro Landscaping, also in Coquitlam; directly be-hind Robert is Bill Manning who graduated in 1980 and is with the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation as manager of horticulture; Gerry Hutchinson, next to Bill, graduated in 1971, and started his own nursery, Hutchinson Nursery Sales Ltd. in 1985, which he now emphasizes he has turned over to his son, Brad; second from the right is Juergen Neudoerffer, who graduated in 1958 just as our class entered the School—he has been involved in nurseries and garden centres all of his career and now works part time for Home Depot, and he and Norma live in the Richmond area; and finally, Hugh Monroe who graduated in 1964 and his career led him through senior positions with Wascana Centre Authority in Regina, and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby in the Vancouver area.

* * *

I note an enquiry in the site’s Forum about white or alpine strawberries. These are definitely available and if someone else has not responded to this by this time next week, I shall do so in this column next week. And, by the way, there are not only white strawberries, but also yellow cultivars.    

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