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Galt Horticultural Society 'thinks spring' with 31st Dream Garden Conference

Galt Horticultural Society's 31st Dream Garden Conference will be held on Sunday March 3 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Portuguese Club in Cambridge
GHS maintains the gardens at Ferguson Cottage in downtown Galt where members share with and learn from fellow gardeners.

It's never too early to start planning for that summer garden.

Whether you're seasoned gardener or just looking to get started, organizers say the 31st Dream Garden Conference in Cambridge opens the door to fresh ideas for anyone who already has the gardening ‘itch’ before spring.

Hosted by the Galt Horticultural Society (GHS), the conference will be held on March 3 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Portuguese Club.

This year's theme is 'Hocus Crocus: The Magic of Spring.'

“It’s incredible that this is the 31st conference. I've attended it for about 15 years and I’ve been directly involved on the board for eight. With each year, it just gets bigger," said GHS president Pat Handorf.

Handorf said the event will include educational and entertaining speakers who will present a variety of topics.

This year’s featured guest speakers include Sean James, who will share knowledge on the English Cottage: A Canadian Approach; Paul Knowles, who will speak about the cure for gardener disease; and Helen Battersby, who who will share her expertise on designing with see-through plants.

Conference tickets cost $65 which includes breakfast, lunch, access to vendors, a silent auction, prizes and swag bags as well as one-year Galt Horticultural Society membership.   

“This doesn’t just appeal to the real serious gardener, it’s for everyone. And it’s the camaraderie of it all,” Handorf said. “It is just a fun day with people that are like-minded.”

And timing for the event couldn’t be better, especially for anyone experiencing the winter blues.

“We used to hold the event in January every year. Last year after COVID, we thought maybe March would be a better time, especially for anyone coming from a distance. And at that time, people are ready to get out into the garden," Handorf said.

The Galt Horticultural Society came into being in the 1850s. Today there are over 203 members.

“We have younger members and long-time board members. One is 97 and a half and another is 98. They have so much knowledge to share,” Handorf said.

GHS maintains the gardens at Ferguson Cottage in downtown Galt where members come together and learn from fellow gardeners.

“We do this in partnership with the city and it’s strictly run by volunteers. Every Thursday morning, we have our garden committee which meets at the cottage from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. They garden, trim, plant and weed,” Handorf said.

“It's a popular place. You will always find people walking through, sitting, or having their lunch on the benches. It’s a very popular spot for pictures as it backs on to the walkway along the river. People are interested in what we are doing. There’s a real sense of community.”

A committee chair is always on hand for anyone who has a garden related question.

“They are very well educated when it comes to gardening, and can answer any questions that people might have. It’s such a great opportunity for others to learn,” Handorf said.

GHS also offers guest speakers at monthly meetings, workshops at Ferguson Cottage for adults and kids, open garden tours in the summer months, bus trips to interesting locations for gardeners, as well as the popular plant sale, held annually just before Mother’s Day.

“We have a strawberry social every June and anyone can attend. Last year, we had almost 100 people,” Handorf said.

“And this past year, we held our first annual pumpkin walk. We partnered with the BIA and the Sculpture Garden, and it was amazing. There were over 350 pumpkins dropped off. The pumpkins were placed all along the cottage grounds on the pathway. It was incredibly well attended.” 

GHS also grows vegetables on the Ferguson Cottage grounds that are donated to The Cambridge Food Bank. 

“We have some schools that have come out several times and volunteer with us. We do try to get children involved,” Handorf said.

Anyone interested in joining the society can visit the GHS website, Facebook page, or Instagram.

“They can also pop into Ferguson Cottage on a Thursday morning. Knock on the door and someone will be there,” Handorf said.

For more information and for tickets to the 31st Dream Garden Conference, visit here.