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Piper Creek Trial Garden

Piper Creek Trial Garden

Echoglen Farm, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Submitted by Lorne McArthur

Trial Gardens are the instrument which all seed growers use to develop new varieties of seeds to feed the world and beautify our yards. Governments and Departments of Agriculture around the world sponsor seedlings for food trial gardens. Seed companies employ the best geneticists to breed new varieties of plants. The American Dahlia Society, celebrating the 100th Anniversary in 2015, employs the same method.

Members of the Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society have accepted the challenge of a trial garden for dahlias. The time spent caring for, growing, judging the seedlings, and record keeping will be the result of hours of volunteer work. Alberta dahlia growers have spent a lot of time and money attending shows and participating in judging courses to become senior certified judges who are members of the much larger American Dahlia Society (ADS). An application for a trial garden has to be submitted to the ADS and once approved the garden will have a 2 year probation period. This is standard for all trial gardens.

Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society members have been growing seedlings for many years. Because of waiting lists, there is a challenge for members to get their seedlings into the US Trial Gardens. Trial Gardens in Canada have come and gone on both the West and East coasts. Trial gardens have never been on the prairies until now. Our extreme climate in Alberta makes dahlia growing a challenge. We are a hardy bunch of enthusiastic growers, with a goal to growing successful gardens. We will accommodate hybridizers from across Canada and the US.

All growers can submit tubers in their 4th growing season. Originators shall submit 3 tubers of a cultivar along with a picture, entry form and applicable fee. Cultivars in Alberta will be started indoors and transplanted after the danger of frost has passed. Directors and volunteers will maintain the trial garden. The gardens will be cared for in the same manner as all dahlia gardens. Judging will be according to the rules in the ADS Classification Handbook of Dahlias.

The City of Red Deer has been very supportive and recognizes the endeavours of the ADGS. The garden is open for public viewing during the growing season.

The Piper Creek Trial Garden is located at Echoglen Farm, Red Deer County, at the home of Lorne and Marilyn McArthur. The land location is Range Road 273 #37514. Our local people know this location as 40th Ave, south of 19 St, near the City Landfill Site. Mailing address: Lorne McArthur, RR#3, Red Deer, AB, Canada, T4N 5E3. Look for the steel pole structure behind the tree farm on the West side of 40th Ave South of the Landfill Site.

Updated Feb 16 2015 by Larry Quintilio

The probation period is complete and thanks to a tremendous amount of work and perseverance by Lorne and Marilyn McArthur, Wayne and Sheila Roberts, Ken Jensen and Eileen Grant the Piper Creek Trial Gardens are the only sanctioned trial gardens in Canada.

BLOEMENCORSO DAHLIA PARADE IN ZUNDERT NETHERLANDS

What began in 1936 as a flower parade has become the oldest and most celebrated ode to blooms in Europe.
Ever since its inception, Zundert in the Netherlands has hosted an annual flower show Bloemencorso, with an average 50,000 visitors descending on the town to look at the brilliant displays.
Creators use dahlias for their breathtaking displays and build gravity defying sculptures.

Let’s hope the wind doesn’t blow too hard! The flowers have been meticulously placed to create the giraffes, even down to their eyelids and hair that lines their neck

A roaring good show: The intricate blooms have been manipulated to create this gravity-defying impressive model of a tiger and her cubs

Every float is made from dahlias. This twisting house, which is as high as other apartments, weaves its ways through the narrow streets

Just by using dahlias, volunteers created this show-stopping piece, where a startled antelope flees the clutches of a leopard that gives chase

Udderly brilliant – thee competitors left no detail out – they even included the numbers on the tags on the ears, and what appears to be the inner workings of a milk-processing plant within the cow’s body

Something fishy about this: Bloemencorso saw this elaborate fish display, which saw a shoal of fish whirl around each other – even using light-coloured dahlias to shade in the light bouncing off the eyeballs
Each of the competing districts of Zundert – which was the home of Vincent Van Gogh – construct their own entry and compete in the parade, which occurs every first Sunday in September.

According to those behind Bloemencorso, the parade is all the work of dedicated volunteers, who do not profit from the colourful display.
A staggering six to eight million dahlia flowers are used to produce the floats.
Visit http://www.bloemencorsozundert.nl/ for more information.

Bloemencorso began in 1936, and since then has spiralled in popularity, as the small population makes huge efforts to outdo one another so they can create sculptures like his huge organ

Even the meerkats get a mention! The curious animals are brought to life, as creators perfected every inch of the models, even down to their nails and shading on their tails

Out of this world! Every float here is made from petals and, despite being made from such a delicate, tiny structure, take on gigantic proportions which people clamour to see

It’s really taken off! Bloemencorso has grown in term of popularity and in the sheer size of the creations, with thousands flocking to the home of Vincent Van Gogh to gasp at the displays

Held on the first Sunday of every September, the quaint town becomes packed with visitors and, on this occasion, a huge rhinoceros made of delicate flowers

Make it snappy! Thousands turn out to Bloemencorso, as hamlets compete with each other to create the most beautiful display – including this sinister-looking fishy creature

Annual General Meeting November 3

Remember to attend the Annual General Meeting and pot luck on November 3 at 10am to 3pm at Eastview Community Center 120 Ellenwood Road
Decisions will be made regarding venues for our next flower show. Come and bring your ideas!

A sharing education session on challenges of growing Dahlias will take place at this meeting.

Please bring any pictures you have of bug damaged leaves, plant diseases or challenges in your Dahlia garden

Designing the Holidays

Linda O’Connor, a floral designer working with James Harasimowicz on the Barton House, runs a cut flowerfarm in Ransomville called Summertime Blooms. She hopes that when visitors walk into the Barton House they see a “peaceful elegance.”

Her holiday decorating recommendation is to keep holiday decor simple.

She recalled how, this past summer when she marketed her cut flowers at area farmers markets, she would take a single flower, like a sunflower or dinner plate dahlia, and place it in an empty wine bottle. “People would say, ‘oh my gosh, I never thought to do that.”

O’Connor suggests doing the same for the holidays. Take a few empty wine bottles, add a single fresh flower in each and some assorted small candles to illuminate the bottles from the base.

“For the winter I would probably use a hydrangea and some grasses,” she said, adding she is currently working with white flowers for the Barton House but that holiday decorators could use any color flower that goes with their decor.

“I like to use blue wine bottle because they really set off the flowers but you could use green bottles for the holidays or clear bottles and put red water in them,” she said.

When asked whether to strip the labels first, she noted: “If it happens to be your favorite wine, you can leave the labels on. I have one from a brewery in Ellicottville called Snowfox. I leave the label on because it has snow flakes and a little white fox on it so it works for the holidays.”

“And it was a good wine, too,” she said with a laugh.

Her biggest recommendation for the holidays is to enjoy them. “I m just thinking people need to sit down and enjoy their family and friends for this holiday instead of trying to do all this stuff.”

Exert from: Designing the Holidays.

Post an example of how you decorate your table for the holiday and help share creativity with our community.

Submissions will be added to our Arrangements Gallery.


Ernie Henderson Tribute

The Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society along with CGS; ADS,NAGC  and the Montana Dahlia Society can with little doubt claim to have had oldest living member of any  active society of gardeners.

Ernie Henderson was 106  at the time of his passing, November 9, 2011.

This picture of Ernie, with his grand champion dahlia Elma Elizabeth, was taken at this year’s (2011) show in Red Deer. Ernie first started showing flowers in the late forties. Gladiolus and dahlias became his particular passion.


Exhibiting was not new to Ernie as he had grown up showing heavy horses. As well as showing horses and flowers he had a brief “run” at showing dogs; in particular, Cocker Spaniels.

He was an accredited judge of gladiolus, dahlias and horses.  During her life Fanny, his wife, would often inquire whether the weekend was to be a “horsey one” or a” flower one” as Ernie was frequently off to shows as an exhibitor, judge or both.

Ernie also had the distinction of being the oldest living person to have served with the RCMP. In 2005 wearing his Red Serge Jacket (see photo) Ernie was the parade marshal for the Little Britches Parade here in High River (see photo). In that year both Ernie and Alberta  turned 100. As a member of the RCMP Ernie was part of the first Musical Ride. Along with his horse, Pard, he was  an extra in the movie “Rose Marie” starring Nelson Eddie and Janette McDonald.

Ernie and his friend Bill McClaren were awarded life membership in ADGS  at our founding meeting. This was most appropriate for these two were great friends- Though showing  Ernie did much to raise the interest  in dahlias here in Alberta. Ernie rarely if ever missed the mall show of the Montana Society in Kalispell, until the last few years; when other friends questioned the wisdom of his travelling to the U.S.
On the door of his room at the Medicine Tree manor Ernie had a sign stating” Gardeners don’t grow old they just lose their bloomers”- This is, perhaps, more humorous to those of us pre-Victoria’s Secret but Ernie never did lose his bloomers as illustrated by his accomplishments.  Also,some of us are still growing his dahlia introduction Alberta Flame (B FD Flame ).
The Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society thoughts go out to the Henderson family. Click here to post your personal condolences.