As a dry-shade gardener for 30+ years, Helen Battersby has a great appreciation for perseverance in the garden. She is a graduate of Ryerson’s Landscape Design program and has spent nearly 15 years as a volunteer with the Toronto Master Gardeners. A member of GardenComm, the association for garden communicators, Helen has had her writing and photography published in GardenMaking and Trellis magazines and the UK digital magazine IntoGardens. With her sister Sarah, she writes the award-winning blog TorontoGardens.com and, since 2017, has been the publisher of what is now called the Toronto & Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal. Helen has been a frequent presenter to groups in the GTA and beyond, plus as a volunteer speaker on the Master Gardeners of Ontario stages at Canada Blooms.
Gail Bebee has many years of hands-on experience growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs in her own garden in Toronto. Her academic background (undergrad in Biology, Masters in Environmental Engineering) and past experience as a plant taxonomy technician complement her practical gardening knowledge. She recently graduated as a certified Master Gardener in Ontario and delivers presentations with Toronto Master Gardeners. Gail is an enthusiastic and experienced presenter who is keen to share her passion for gardening.
Roger joined the garden in September 2021 and was formerly employed at Holden Forests & Gardens in Kirtland, Ohio. He served many roles at Holden over the last 25 years, including VP of Horticulture & Conservation, and Curator of Living Collections & Land Assets. He played a key role in planning and managing gardens and conducting public outreach in horticulture. He has a B.Sc. in horticulture from The Ohio State University and an M.Sc. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He blends his understanding of ornamental horticulture and native plant communities to come up with innovative solutions to landscape problems.
Lorraine Johnson is an avid gardener, past president of the North American Native Plant Society, and author of numerous books on urban agriculture, native plant gardening, stewardship, and conservation, including 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens, The New Ontario Naturalized Garden, The Gardener’s Manifesto, and City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing. lorrainejohson.ca
Diana is an active member of the Garden Club of Toronto and a design and horticultural judge. She has competed in floral competitions at TBG, Canada Blooms, and internationally, even competing in virtual shows during the pandemic. Her main interest is in creating beautiful, wonderful, and exciting designs. Teaching and sharing are an integral part of her persona. In her previous life, she was a paediatric emergency nurse, so she appreciates the unexpected! Diana’s other interests include quilting and painting, and a new passion for felting, all of which have sustained her through these interesting times.
Alan Li is an artist focused on nature. He supports conservation efforts through the sale of his artwork and is active in volunteering. Alan believes drawing can open people’s eyes to the planet’s 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 the choice of subjects for his art. He currently pursues his own projects, teaches workshops, and collaborates with grassroots environmental groups.
Felicity Lukace, Horticulture Therapy Registered (HTR) has been a member of the Canadian Horticulture Therapy Association (CHTA) since 1986, the H.T.R. American Horticulture Therapy Association (AHTA) since 1999, and has been a Master Gardener since 1996. She has worked with Ryerson University Architectural Science program and Humber College Landscape Technician students to establish a rooftop garden for residents of the Terrace Wagman Centre. Working to create H.T. programs and accessible gardens for various organizations, health care centres, community gardens, and adult day programs, Felicity has had a long career dedicated to using plants and nature to improve the health of countless individuals. She is also the recipient of The Hy and Bertha Shore Award and The Baycrest Innovation Award.
Arti is the founder of yoga4good, a not-for-profit yoga organization providing yoga for groups in their own spaces, both virtually and in person. Yoga is offered for the good of the individual and the community, with all proceeds donated to local and global charities supporting women and children. Arti was first introduced to yoga as a child of Indian parents living in Oakville. Having practiced now for most of her life, yoga has always been the anchor that kept things in check during a busy life with 3 children and 7 international moves. Since returning to Toronto in 2007., she has formalized her yoga experience by pursuing Yoga Teacher Training at YogaSpace in Toronto. Her teaching style emits joyful and compassionate energy, with a calming delivery focused on the breath.
Emma Rooney is a community programmer, environmentalist, health and wellness advocate, gardener, and foodie. She is the proprietor of Blooming Caravan, a mobile business that brings Creative Companionship—therapeutic gardening, seasonal cooking, and storytelling—to older adults in the comfort of their homes. She also works as a horticultural therapy practitioner, offering nature connection programs in long-term care and to various community groups. Her hands-on approach is informed by an ethic of caring for the land and people and by hours spent wandering High Park, dreaming up possibilities. Emma is a newly certified forest therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and offers weekly community sessions at her Forest Bathing Studio.
Alicia Spence is a Toronto-based artist and instructor, specializing in lettering, painting, and mixed media. She loves sharing what she’s learned as a self-taught artist in creative workshops at the Toronto Botanical Garden and across Southern Ontario.
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. His own work includes detailed and accurately rendered botanical paintings and classical still life vignettes. Michael works in oil on canvas on a fairly large scale and also paints smaller still life subjects on linen canvas and wood panels. He also uses watercolour and various drawing mediums in his botanical drawings and paintings. https://www.spillane-arts.com/
For more than 15 years, Margaret’s passion for flowers has led her to exhibit, judge, demonstrate and teach floral design in Canada and abroad. A recipient of many awards, Margaret’s accolades include Canada Blooms’ Founder’s Gold Cup for Best in Show. Margaret has also won Best in Show on two occasions at the provincial triennial show and as a result, has been chosen to represent Canada in two world shows. It was her greatest honour to exhibit for Canada both in Boston and in India. Margaret is currently a floral design judge accredited by the Garden Clubs of Ontario, a horticultural judge accredited by the Royal Botanical Gardens, and a rose judge accredited by the Canadian Rose Society. Margaret is also a Sogetsu Ikebana teacher and exhibitor. Much lauded for her design acumen by the horticultural community, she is a past president of the Garden Club of Toronto and is a coordinator of floral design studies at Toronto Botanical Garden.
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.
Tena van Andel
Tena van Andel is a certified Level II 3-D Workout™ instructor who wants to keep all of us moving till we’re 102. She enjoys volunteering for the Toronto Master Gardeners and is busy rewilding a 19th-century rundown farmhouse, fondly referred to as her ‘estate’.
Pat has enjoyed teaching a number of different Floral Design courses at the Toronto Botanical Garden. She is a Design, Horticultural, and Rose Judge. Pat continues to participate in and learn about Floral Artistry at the local, provincial, and international levels.