President’s Message – Sept, 2011

Port Coquitlam finally got its summer, although it didn’t start until August this year; I don’t think I hauled out the garden-hose more than a dozen times all year, so rainy and cool was our spring and summer. None-the-less, it would have to be counted amongst the good years; the only sign of drought is what we’re experiencing now, in the first week of September – soon to pass – so most gardens have done well, on balance. This compares with the rest of Canada and the continent, particularly the south and east coast, where they suffered through extreme temperatures and low rainfall, difficult conditions for gardeners.

In light of Port Coquitlam’s recent ban on cosmetic herbicides I’ve been hand-weeding the paving stones in my garden, about 500 sq. ft., and it has not been as horrendous a chore as I feared it might be; it only must be attended to more often during the summer than my previous regime of a squirt of Roundup twice a season, so it looks as though it will be a workable solution. I think the ban is a good idea – anything that will remove these powerful chemicals from our environment is worthwhile as our present knowledge of their harmful effects seems entirely negative and the as-yet unknown effects are likely to be the same, or perhaps worse. I would like to see our local municipal governments lobby the provincial authorities to make the ban province-wide, using provincial legislation, so that the use of herbicides and pesticides is not a municipal patchwork solution, but rather, one that controls these chemicals in the same manner throughout the province. It should also encompass our industrial and commercial properties; more importantly, it should also apply to the agricultural sector; why have a ban on these harmful and suspect chemicals in our general environment yet still permit them to be sprayed on our food? There is a serious lapse in logic there. Corporations and their mouthpieces – they are many and varied – will decry those recommendations, but consider their biases before you consider their words.

Some of our executive council positions come available this fall and we will be looking for people who would be willing to spare a couple of hours a month to serve the garden club on the executive; we will present a full list at the upcoming meeting (Sept 20th). We will also be looking for volunteers to help at meetings, including Adopt-a-Family & Welcome Table duties. I would like to extend a thank you to the members who have served in those positions in the past and hope that someone will fill their shoes in 2012.

A list of the winners in this year’s Pride of Poco garden awards is online at the Now newspapers ( along with photos of the winning gardens. Also, on the city website at Congratulations to the winners and thanks to our club members, and city staff, who helped with the judging. The overall winner (Kim & Roger Brito) will also receive a year’s dues towards membership in the PoCo Garden Club – I hope to see them at our meetings. The awards will be presented at the City of Port Coquitlam regular council meeting on Sept 12, 2011 commencing at 7:00 p.m.

The winner’s list below is taken from the city website.

Best Overall Garden                                Kim & Roger Brito

1st Place – Front Yard                             Al Letendre & Janet Ahmelich

2nd Place – Front Yard                            Wayne & Linda Robins

3rd Place – Front Yard                             Henry & Dianne Santos

1st Place – Back Yard                              Barb & Warren Henham

2nd Place – Back Yard                             Gilles Giasson & Karen Moran

3rd Place – Back Yard                              Al & Carol Duggan

Honourable Mention – Back Yard            Maureen Haack

Top Townhome Garden                            Jim & Espe Thorleifson

Best Theme Garden                                  Terry & Carolyn Jeffrey

Nita Powers & Barney Heppner

Top Business Garden                               Sushi Village

I hope that all members will attend our Sept meeting when the speaker will be Dr. Jan Walls*, former board member of the much acclaimed Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver, who will be speaking on Chinese gardening. Chinese gardens had a seminal effect on European design sensibilities as far back as the early 18th century when the concept of “natural” design began a revolt against the formality of existing gardens that has threaded through subsequent European garden design ever since. Vancouver, with its sizable Chinese immigrant, and long-time, populations is an ideal locale to incorporate these design traditions further. All it takes is knowledge and understanding and I’m confident that Dr Walls can help us with that.

* Dr. Jan Walls is Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University, where he was founding Director of the David Lam Centre for International Communication and founding Director of the Asia-Canada Program in the Faculty of Arts. He has taught Chinese language and culture courses at UBC (1970-78), UVic (1978-85) and SFU (1987-2006). Since retirement he has been a member of the Multicultural Advisory Council to the BC Government, President of the Canadian Society for Asian Arts, Co-President of the Asian Heritage Month Society, Director of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, Academic Advisor to the Lingnan Elder College, and Honorary Advisor to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden Society, Chinese Canadian Writers’ Association, Chinese Canadian Artists’ Federation, the Goh Ballet Academy, and the Chuen Ying Arts Centre. He is currently a member of the David Lam Centre Steering Committee at SFU. He has been studying Chinese gardens since the 1980’s.

Jim Thorleifson


About pocogardenclub

PoCo Garden Club Established July 5, 1990 by Len Cuddeford P.O. Box 631, PoCo Depot, Port Coquitlam, B.C. V3E 6H9
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