Fall/Winter 2018 Instructor Bios

Alan Colley’s spirit name is Whooping Crane and he is Wolf Clan. Alan is the creator of Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tours, a company which honours the traditional Indigenous way of life and also allows for mainstream concepts of tourism and experiential learning. His goal is to bring together – in a traditional way – elders, adults, youth and children to make a difference while applying the seven Grandfather Teachings, 13 Grandmother Moon Teachings and the Medicine Wheel Teachings. Alan is the father of three young active boys and an avid fisherman.
Teaching: Indigenous Learning along the Humber River


Alan Li is an artist with a focus on nature. He supports conservation efforts through the sale of his artwork and is active in volunteering. Alan believes that drawing can open people’s eyes to the planet’s wondrous diversity and show them that it matters. Alan grew up near the Niagara Escarpment and spent much of his childhood exploring the cliffs and forests. Those early encounters with nature have influenced both the direction of his life and choice of subject matter for his art. He currently pursues his own projects, teaches nature drawing workshops and collaborates with grassroot environmental groups.
Teaching: Smartphone Nature Photography for Beginners and Clay Sculpting Workshop


After three successful decades working in the motion picture industry, husband and wife team Arlene Hazzan Green and Marc Green co-founded The Backyard Urban Farm Company, an award-winning, organic vegetable landscaping business that builds, installs, plants and maintains edible gardens in homes, schools and businesses in the Greater Toronto Area. Their mission is to ignite people’s passion for growing their own food and to reconnect them with nature. BUFCO was established as a response to Arlene and Marc’s growing awareness of and resulting unease with their own contribution to climate change and their need to find a meaningful solution.
Teaching: Planting Garlic, Saving Seeds and Putting the Garden to Bed and Indoor Edibles


Danette Steele is a professional herbalist and is registered to practice with the Ontario Herbalists Association. She has a clinical practice in Toronto and Halifax and teaches widely throughout Ontario and Nova Scotia. Danette has been planting gardens and farming since she was 3 years old – and she loves to plant beautiful, edible gardens filled with plant medicines for people and pollinators!
Teaching: Herbal Harvest and Holiday Herbal Treats 


Deborah Metsger is Assistant Curator of Botany at the Royal Ontario Museum, where she is responsible for the management of the 1+ million plant collections held in the Green Plant Herbarium and the communication of all things botanical in galleries, exhibitions, public programs, and publications. She has conducted botanical fieldwork in Ontario, elsewhere in North America and in Guyana and has worked closely with the Walpole Island First Nation and other indigenous peoples. For five years she served as co-Taxon Coordinator of the Ontario Bioblitz program. She is a coauthor of The ROM Fieldguide to the Wildflowers of Ontario, coordinating author for City of Toronto Biodiversity Series Trees Shrubs and Vines of Toronto, and is currently working on the ROM Fieldguide to Trees of Ontario.
Teaching: People, Plants and Places


Emma Biggs is a 12-year-old Toronto gardener who grows tomato plants in the city. In containers, raised beds, the ground—and on the garage rooftop, she has had lots of successes and failure while growing all of her unusual varieties. Emma is the co-author of Grow Gardeners, Kid-Tested Gardening with Children and is currently working on a book with Storey Publishing about gardening for children.
Teaching: Pushing Gardening Boundaries


Franco “Frank” Tofano of Organic Chef Foods is one of TBG’s food vendors at the Organic Farmers’ Market, He supports local growers who follow traditional farming methods and uses organic ingredients to produce Indian, Italian and Portuguese pastries and Italian family dinner dishes “like the way grandma used to cook”.
Teaching: Thai Cooking


Gabriela Delworth is a Toronto Lifestyle Blogger, DIY Author and Designer.
Teaching: Art Journaling 101, Mini Fresh Christmas Tree Workshop and Japanese Style Gift Wrapping Workshop


Jeff Mason has spent a lifetime in the Horticulture industry. With over 30 years of experience, he has worked in virtually every aspect of the industry. He is owner of Mason House Gardens, growing and supplying hardy perennials, specialty annuals, heirloom and uncommon vegetables, tropical plants and shrubs. He is an avid plant collector
Teaching: Succulents – In and Out and Perennial Combinations


Jessica Gale owns and runs Sweet Gale Gardens a small-scale, ecological flower farm near Hamilton, ON that offers unique and heirloom blooms for weddings, markets, wholesale and by subscription. SGG also offers garden design services, farm and garden workshops and performs on-farm research from Ecological Farmers of Ontario.
Teaching: Thanksgiving Centerpiece


It started as a summer job and now Ken Lund has over 40 years of experience in arboriculture. As the President of Four Seasons Tree Care and Service Ltd. Ken brings with him expertise in all aspects of tree and shrub care. He is a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture and a founding member of the Ontario Commercial Arborists Association serving as the treasurer for 16 years. Ken has completed the American Society of Consulting Arborists Academy and is a qualified Tree Risk Assessor under the International Society of Arboriculture.
Teaching: For the Love of Trees


Kerry Furneaux is a graduate of the Horticultural Therapy Certificate at the Toronto Botanical Garden as well as the Garden Design Certificate at George Brown College. She works in the Enabling Garden at The Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga, where she is dedicated to improving the well-being of children and adults of all ages and abilities through horticultural activities. Kerry is an urban beekeeper and an active member and Co-Chair of the Toronto Beekeepers Collective.
Teaching: Horticultural Therapy: Putting More Nature in Your Nurture


Leslie Staple is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art. While majoring in textiles, her love of colour, pattern and texture inspired her to take up painting the plant world! Leslie has been exhibiting her botanical watercolours in numerous group shows since 1998, has had two solo shows and won two first place awards. She has been instructing botanical drawing and watercolour courses, community workshops and private lessons since 2001.
Teaching: Botanical Art and Introduction to Landscape Painting


Lil Taggart is an experienced and creative designer and instructor in Floral Arts   She is also an accredited Floral Design Judge and has competed on an International level as well as Domestically. She serves on the board of Canada Blooms, co-chairs the staging for the Toronto Flower Show, is past president of the Georgetown Horticultural society and is a member of The Garden Club of Toronto.
Teaching: Creative Floral Design


Margaret Taylor is the coordinator of the floral design certificate program at TBG. Margaret has been involved in floral design for 18 years and is an accredited floral design, horticulture and rose judge and has taught, demonstrated and judged internationally. She is a member of the Garden Club of Toronto, the North Toronto Horticultural Association, the Canadian Rose Society and Ikebana International. She has a huge love of gardens and floral design.
Teaching: Introduction to Abstract Design and Advanced Floral Design with Natural Materials


Margo Martin is a garden designer who began her career with an education in visual arts. After being bitten by the ‘gardening bug’, she spent several years gleaning practical experience, working landscape maintenance in private and commercial gardens. She is enthusiastic about sharing her love for gardening, especially design, and continues to take classes. She is a graduate of the George Brown College garden design program.
Teaching: Small Garden Design


For almost 40 years Max Skwarna has been making his living as a professional photographer; he owns one of the oldest photographic studios in Canada, Ashley and Crippen. Although making his living photographing people he spends much of his free time doing what he loves best, being outside in nature and capturing the beauty that surrounds us. Max is a member of Ontario Field Ornithologists, Pickering Naturalists, Toronto Entomologists Association and Hamilton Naturalist just to name a few. He has also been a judge for international insect and nature photography competitions.
Teaching: Bird Photography at High Park & Lambton Woods and Foundations of Photography


Michael Spillane has a broad and eclectic background both in the arts and natural sciences. Together with his early interests in botanical science and the natural world, Michael pursued his love of the arts. He studied botanical art and classical drawing and painting techniques and holds a diploma in illustration and design along with other academic qualifications in horticulture, botany and music. Michael has held positions of editor and art director for two Canadian national magazines and has written over 300 articles worldwide. He is a former editor of Canada’s Plant & Garden magazine. Michael teaches botanical drawing and painting at his studio in Mississauga – Spillane Studio of Fine Arts.
Teaching: Botanical Drawing with Pen, Ink & Watercolour


Dr. Michelle Pobega, ND has been successfully treating patients in Toronto since 2009 and runs an independent private practice with a focused interest in digestive health and stress management. Michelle hopes to inspire patients to better understand their bodies so they can find their unique balance, and not just survive but thrive.
Teaching: Boosting Your Immunity and Modern Day Stress 


Monika Ghent, RH, PSMA, is a Western Traditional Herbalist, Plant Spirit Medicine Healer and Natural Skincare Specialist and has a private practice where she sees clients in both Toronto and Maple, Ontario, Canada. Her company, Dreaming Willow Natural Therapies provides therapies blending traditional western herbalism, contemporary scientific knowledge, and plant spirit wisdom, to support natural healing and holistic balance. Monika also has a school of herbalism with her husband, Living Earth School of Herbalism, which offers general interest workshops and online classes, and certificate and diploma programs in Western herbalism and related fields of study.
Teaching: Make Your Own Natural Deodorant and Facial Scrubs, Masks and Cleansers


Aroma therapist, Monika Meulman, has been teaching for over 20 years the all-natural way to live, breathe, grow, enjoy life, increase your health and reduce your stress.
Teaching: Aromatherapy 101


Pat Ware has enjoyed teaching a number of different Floral Design Courses at the Toronto Botanical Gardens. She is a Design, Horticulture and Rose Judge. Pat continues to participate in and learn about Floral Artistry at local, Provincial and international levels.
Teaching: Classic Design Fundamentals II


Penelope Beaudrow is an Herbal Educator and Registered Herbalist who earned her herbalist diploma from the Dominion Herbal College in British Columbia. She is Product Development Specialist and Herbal Educator at Faunus Herbs; which manufactures, formulates and develops complex food-based supplements for the natural products industry.  Penelope is also a board member of the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine and the founder of The Ginkgo Tree, a small herbal business (Education, Teas & Tinctures) located on her family farm, Dogwood & Brambles which was designated as a United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary.
Teaching: Spice Talk and Barnyard Blends – Taking Care of Your Pet Naturally


Peter Heinz has been a keen lover of Toronto ravines all his life. He has volunteered with Hike Ontario, Toronto Heart Health Walking Initiative, Toronto Parks & Rec, Toronto Field
Naturalists, TRCA’s Don Watershed Regeneration Council and Toronto Botanical Garden. He is interested in how our local ravine systems continually change from the pressure of
urban development.
Teaching: Discover West Don Ravine


Rosemary Passafiume-MacLean is an accredited floral design judge from the Garden Clubs of Ontario. She is an accomplished designer with her work appearing in two international publications. Rosemary has also been recognised with numerous awards. She is 2017 winner of the Founder’s Gold Cup award at the Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms. Rosemary has been teaching and sharing her love of floral design for a number of years.
Teaching: Classic Design Fundamentals I


Sandra Pella holds a degree in political science from the University of Western Ontario, and, upon graduation worked in the financial sector until the pull of plants was too much to resist. She worked as a gardener for the City of Toronto as well as TBG prior to becoming TBG’s head gardener in 2008. Her garden philosophy is grounded in a deep respect for nature and desire to support natural systems and biodiversity. Sandra has given countless presentations on gardening with nature and is a regular commentator in the media on nature in urban neighborhoods.
Teaching: Plant Beautiful Bulbs and Nature in the Neighbourhood 


From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe Langford is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories, creates delicious recipes, and published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015. She studied Fine Art History and Humanities at the University of Toronto, and York University; she graduated with honours from OCAD University; she earned her Wine Specialist Certificate from George Brown College.
Teaching: Hit the Road Jack!


Steven Biggs has worked in horticulture and agriculture for more than 25 years. Along with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, he has worked in greenhouse and nursery production, plant propagation, biological controls, horticultural supplies, and farm marketing.
Teaching: Pushing Gardening Boundaries


Writer by profession and planting designer by passion, Tony Spencer is the creative force behind The New Perennialist, an award-winning blog exploring the frontiers of naturalistic garden design. Deeply inspired by the work of Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf and others, Tony is a puckish ringleader in social media helping to capture the zeitgeist for a growing international and intergenerational community of plantspeople. He’s currently at work on experimental planting design projects at his country property in the rolling hills of Mono, Ontario.
Teaching: Splendour in the Grasses


Ursula Eley has been playing with flowers for over 20 years. She is an accredited judge of floral design and of horticulture. Floral design is a particular passion because it is always evolving, with great opportunities to try new techniques and ideas. Sharing that passion with others makes it even more special. Ursula’s designs have been featured in international journals. Recently, she won a 1st prize at the World Association of Floral Artists Show, 2017, in Barbados.
Teaching: Special Occasions Flowers and Seasonal Wreath Workshop

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