Dunnville Horticulture Society

George & Shirley Hoto Interview

George & Shirley Hoto

 Even on a cloudy day, the adjective that comes to mind

when describing the flower bed on Main Street in Dunnville is grand. Certainly some might say that this is because of the nearby Grand River but it could also be due to the dedication of George and Shirley Hoto. The couple have been tending to this space for well over a decade and couldn’t recall the actual year that they started. They were asked by a friend to take care of the flower bed when the Town of Dunnville was attempting to achieve a ‘Communities In Bloom’ designation. Communities In Bloom is an organization that promotes community pride through people and plants.

The flower bed is surrounded by mature shade trees and benches for those who wish to sit and take in the view. It is brimming with petunias and a variety of perennials such Black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, daylilies and hostas.

Gardening in itself is rewarding for the couple but they really feel appreciated when people walk by and comment on their efforts. “Many people do not realize that volunteers care for these flower beds,” said Shirley. Working side by side the couple spends up to two hours a week caring for this space. In the past, they were spending more time weeding and pruning but as the perennials, trees and bushes mature they have nicely filled in the area. The addition of mulch by Dunnville Horticultural Society this past spring has helped reduce the time required for weeding each week.

 George and Shirley are both retired from full time employment but stay very active with golfing, playing volleyball, travelling and gardening. The couple have vegetable and flower gardens at home and say that their interest in perennial gardening stems from George’s mother’s love of flowers.

Dunnville Horticultural Society would like to recognize the efforts of George and Shirley Hoto and all of the other volunteers who maintain numerous flower beds around the town. Members have been helping to keep Dunnville looking beautiful since 1929. Dunnville Horticultural Society meets monthly between September to June on the third Thursday of the month. Plan to join the members on Thursday September 21st at Dunnville Optimist Hall when they will be learning more about the bird banding program at Ruthven Park in Cayuga. Doors open at 6:30pm. Programs are free and open to everyone.

If you enjoy being outdoors and have one hour a week to volunteer during the spring and summer months, then D.H.S. has a spot for you to beautify! For more information contact D.H.S. Weeding Coordinator Nelly Engelage or Corresponding Secretary Jennifer Miller through the group’s website www.dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org.


Melanie Ruigrok

DHS Update

Spring has sprung and summer is on it’s way. WOW have the temperatures been crazy, great for the plants though.
Are you enjoying the weather? Dunnville Horticultural Society sure has. The weather held out for us this year so we could get all the beds planted throughout the town. With over 40 volunteers throughout the 3 days, the planting was efficient and completed in no time. Of course DHS couldn’t have done it without the lovely donation of plant materials from Konkle Greenhouses. Thank you Konkles and volunteers for all your time and support.
DHS would also like to thank all our volunteer weeders for their time and efforts to prepare the beds for planting and their continued support throughout the summer season to keep the newly planted beds looking their best. Stay tuned for a new DHS feature we will be providing “Meet the Weeders”.
As the school year is coming to a close, so has the Thompson Creek / St Michael’s Kindergarten Outdoor Class. What an adventure the kids have had. Lead by Deb Thomas and Dan McKay, with support from Melanie Ruigrock and Ellen Guenther . The children explored nature, learned about turtles, butterflies and birds, and braved the environment.Looking forward to more adventures.
Last months plant sale was another success. , raising over $1,000 to be used for upcoming projects. Thank you to everyone that brought and donated plants. Please stay tuned for upcoming projects and workshops, not to be missed.
Also not to be missed is the June program night, held every third thursday of the month at the optimist hall from 7-9. This months speaker is Karen Richardson on the loyalists kitchen garden. Very exciting. All ages welcome, fully accessible and refreshments will be provided. Memberships also available. this will also be the last program night till September, so lets fill the hall!!!
Jen Miller

Garden season ending

By Deb Zynomirski

President, Dunnville Horticultural Society

Well gardeners, it is a sad day when all the gardens are put to bed for the coming winter season. Just writing that brings a tear to my eye!

By the time you read this, our own Dunn-ville gardens will have been cleaned up. Our town owes a huge thank you to the many Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) volunteers who cared for our beautiful gardens all summer. And also to those who helped clean them out this past weekend. Once again, the great crew from Jeff’s Outdoor volunteered to help us load up all the garden debris and dispose of it. They have been partnering with us on this huge task for five years now… thank you!

Now that the gardens are done for the season, you may have some extra time on your hands. Why not consider joining the DHS Board of Directors, or come volunteer with us? We are always looking for community-minded people who love Dunnville and love all things gardening. You sure don’t have to be an expert gardener, just have a willingness to help out. We will find a role for you!

Come on out on Thursday, October 20 to our next Program Night. Our speaker will be Melanie North, talking about plants and their usefulness in healing, therapeutic, and medicinal remedies. Many plants have been proven to have amazing properties to soothe, heal, and ease our ailments. We meet at 7 p.m. at the Optimist Club. See you there!

Finally, I am excited to share that plans are already underway for a Seedy Saturday event to take place in April next spring.

Dunnville Hort is partnering with our neighbours at Haldimand Hort in Caledonia to bring this event to life. It will take place halfway between our respective communities, at the Cayuga Arena, making it accessible to a wide audience throughout Haldimand. Stay tuned for more information!

Keep thinking green, gardeners… even though we soon will be seeing white!

DHS meets the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall. For more information, visit dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org or their Facebook page. DHS President, Deb Zynomirski, can also be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com or by phone at 416-566-9337.

Dunnville Horticultural Society update

By Deb Zynomirski

President, Dunnville Horticultural Society

Has pumpkin spice been on your mind? How about visiting a fall fair? Is it time to think about harvesting your pumpkin? Yes, these are all questions that are becoming front of mind for gardeners everywhere.

Everywhere you go, you see gardeners replacing their colourful annuals with fall mums. It’s harvest time as well and the farmers’ markets are overflowing with delicious produce. Make sure you take time to visit our own Dunnville Farmers’ Market and sample all the wonderful produce available at this time of year. Many of you are also skilled canners. And lots of the late summer and early fall produce can be preserved to enjoy over the winter months. From canned peaches and tomatoes to green beans and spaghetti sauce. It all seems to bring a taste of summer back to mind when we open those jars in February!

Now is also the time to think about harvesting seeds from your garden for next year. Join us this Thursday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Optimist Hall when we welcome Hanna Jacobs of Matchbox Farms and Seed Co. You will learn lots about how to gather, organize, and keep your seeds until the spring.

We are pleased to announce that Amelia Green-Johnson, a former Dunnville Secondary School student, will be awarded a $500 Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) bursary. Amelia has gone on to Fleming College in Peterborough to pursue a degree in Conservation. Congratulations!

DHS had taken a break from our regular Program Nights over the busy summer, but we are back at it, meeting together again. While we weren’t meeting, our wonderful volunteers kept up the beautiful flower beds in town. Thank you to our weeding volunteers!

Enjoy the crisp and fresh mornings gardeners! Fall is almost here!

DHS meets the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall. For more information, check out our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org or our Facebook page under Dunnville Horticultural Society. DHS President, Deb Zynomirski, can also be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com or by phone at 416-566-9337.

Mid-summer Dunnville Horticultural Society update

By Deb Zynomirski

President, DHS

As I write this, my Tiger Lilies are past their prime, their bare flower stems sadly swinging in the sweltering breeze. I can hear the cicadas’ mournful song carried along too. 

Why does summer seem to take so long to arrive, yet be so fleeting?

Aside from keeping up with some weeding, the hard work is done, and gardeners can enjoy the beauty of their flower gardens and the beginning of harvesting fruits and veggies. 

This is the time for you to relish the proverbial fruits of your labour. Stop and smell the roses, cut some fresh flowers to adorn your dinner table and share them with friends. 

Or perhaps you are skilled at canning. Pickling cukes are readily available, as are peppers and beans. 

Blueberries freeze well and can be made into smoothies well through the winter. 

Take full advantage of all the bounty of the season!

Were you fortunate enough to receive one of Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS)’s “Splash of Red” door hangers? The DHS board has been surveying in town and our surrounding area in search of great gardens. 

We have been excited to hand this recognition out to almost 200 local gardeners so far!

As August days carry on, and the back-to-school ads start taking over the airwaves, remember that fall will be here before you know it. 

While you take full advantage of summer, remember to plan for fall. DHS will be returning to in-person meetings on September 15 at the Dunnville Optimist Hall. 

Mark your calendar and plan to join us that night!

DHS meets the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall. For more information, check out our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org or our Facebook page under Dunnville Horticultural Society. DHS President, Deb Zynomirski, can also be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com or by phone at 416-566-9337.

2022 Year of the Garden!

By Deb Zynomirski

President, Dunnville Horticultural Society

You may have heard that 2022 has been declared the Year of the Garden. In these times of lockdowns and restrictions, gardening is still a joy and a pleasure that we can partake in. Dunnville Horticultural Society planted several hundred new tulip bulbs this past November to mark the occasion. We are also hoping to return to our regular Program Nights, and plans are already underway to hold our annual Plant Sale once again. Start planning now for how you will celebrate this auspicious occasion this year!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Resolve that this is the year you will finally plant that vegetable garden.

Shop online or locally for seeds which you can start indoors in February.

Plan to diversify your garden with new and exciting plants that you have never tried before. Our climate has changed in the last 25-30 years, so plants that used to be too tender for our area can now withstand our seasons.

Attend our Program Nights when they restart. Make new gardening friends!

Share your cuttings and perennial divisions with your neighbours.

Plan to attend several garden tours, both local and far-flung. You will find inspiration to turn your own patch of dirt into something beautiful this year.

Red is the official colour for the 2022 Year of the Garden, so make sure you paint your gardens RED this year!

DHS was fortunate to be able to hold our 2021 AGM between lockdown times. At this meeting, we welcomed our 2022 Board of Directors: Debbie Thomas (Past-President), Petra Kruis-Daly (Recording Secretary), Ellen Guenther (Treasurer), Susan Emery, Nelly Engelage, Wray McLean, Melanie Ruigrok, Sharon Sykes, Jordan Wagter, and myself, Deb Zynomirski (President). We are looking forward to getting back to our normal club activities in 2022!

Keep thinking green thoughts! 

DHS normally meets the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall. However, due to the current Provincial COVID-19 restrictions, please note that the January Program Night is cancelled. For more information, visit dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org 

or their Facebook page under Dunnville Horticultural Society. DHS President, Deb Zynomirski, can also be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com.

Spring doesn’t have to mean spring into action

DUNNVILLE—Gardeners everywhere always eagerly anticipate the arrival of longer days and warmer weather. But aside from necessary pruning, we should temper our enthusiasm for some time yet. March is a good time to prune back shrubs, trees, and fruit producing vines. However, this is a poor time to be cleaning out our gardens and raking leaves and lawn.

Why, you ask? Many of our most important pollinators burrow in twigs, under leaf litter, and in thin, hollow branches. Imagine these pollinators that have survived a long cold winter, only to be dug up or raked away from their protective nests before they have a chance to emerge on their own. With the assault on our pollinators by insecticides, we need to give these insects every chance to survive! I would encourage you to wait on your garden and yard clean up. Early to mid-May is the ideal time to tackle this task and will ensure that most pollinators will have had a chance to emerge from their winter hibernation.

Also remember that your nemesis, the dreaded dandelion, is an important first food for these pollinators. It’s so tempting to get out there and get a head start on picking and uprooting the dandelions. However, as our pollinator friends emerge, they will be very hungry, and those dandelions and other early wildflowers provide the nutrition and food they need to replenish their energy stores. They will thank you by caring for your flower and vegetable flowers, and help you produce a great crop.

This May, the Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) will once again be spreading our planting activities in town across three days. If you are interested in assisting with our Planting Days, contact me directly. Likewise for anyone interested in weeding a garden for the season.

Some members have been asking how they can obtain their 2021 DHS membership. Please send a cheque or money order ($10 single, $15 couple) to Dunnville Horticultural Society, P.O. Box 274, Dunnville, Ontario N1A 2X5.

Your membership card will be mailed directly to you.

Although our DHS monthly Program Nights are still on hiatus, your DHS Board continues to work behind the scenes, planning for this year.

In the meantime, you can keep up with us on our website at


You can also contact me for more information at debzyn@gmail.com.

Think green thoughts!

Dunnville Horticultural Society awards continuous service pins

By Deb Zynomirski

To The Haldimand Press

DUNNVILLE—The new year has brought new hope that we may see a light at the end of the proverbial pandemic tunnel, as vaccines begin to arrive. Our world has certainly changed a great deal over the one year since the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged as a health threat. 

Although Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) Program Nights have been on hiatus for the past year, our hardworking board of directors continues to meet behind the scenes, planning for what we hope will soon be a return to normal… or least the “new normal.” Usually one of the highlights of our year is awarding our continuous service pins. Although we were not able to award these in person last year, the pins were mailed out to recipients. Help us to congratulate the following members:

5 Year Service Pin

Rose Allen, Angela Barrick, Christina Cavers, Richard Egger, Steve Ellis, Nelly Engelage, Barb Gough, Susan Milligan, Evelyn Wardell, Florence Zynomirski, Peter Zynomirski

10 Year Service Pin

Stan Carnes, Donna Cavers, Anna Lam, Debbie Thomas

As you try to navigate through the coldest of these winter months, now is the perfect time to be planning your spring and summer garden activities. If you are a “grow from seed” type of gardener, start to peruse the seed catalogs. Both online and paper versions can add colour and excitement to your days! The same is true if you are a “pick ‘em and plant ‘em” type of gardener.

Take some time to draw a rough sketch of your gardens, then fill in the locations of trees, shrubs, and perennials. Make note of colour themes you are hoping to develop.  Heights of plants are a big consideration too.  Leaf texture and variety also lend interest to your garden. Highlight those areas in your garden beds that need soil amendment before planting time.

All of these factors will play into which plants you will select for your garden. It   doesn’t matter if you prefer vegetable or flower gardening, both will provide you with endless hours of pleasure, exercise, challenge, and satisfaction!

Some members have been asking how they can obtain their 2021 DHS membership.  Please send a cheque or money order ($10 single, $15 couple) to Dunnville Horticultural Society, P.O. Box 274, Dunnville, Ontario, N1A 2X5. Your membership card will be mailed directly to you.

You can keep up with us on our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org. You can also contact me for more information at      debzyn@gmail.com. Think green thoughts!

Deb Zynomirski is the president of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.

Remembering Lester C. Fretz

By Co-publisher Jillian Zynomirski

On December 23, 2020, former Press columnist Lester C. Fretz passed away in his 89th year. Lester, a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society, wrote for The Press’ ‘Get Growing, tips from a local gardener’ column from 2017 to 2020. In October 2020, he passed the torch to new Get Growing columnists Brad and Susan Emery.

“I’m indebted to you folk at Haldimand Press for introducing me to the enjoyable opportunity of writing for you,” Lester wrote to us in October 2020. “I’m pleased to see the Emerys carry on with the column for which I give you the credit for creating.”

Lester inspired readers with his many gardening ideas and thoughtful tips.

Lester’s final column for The Press was on seeds and their sense of direction. We can’t help but think that Lester has planted many seeds in his lifetime, developing strong roots, which will live on in his memory.

Lester was so encouraging and never missed an opportunity to let us know what a great job we were doing at The Press. He was one of the most kind-hearted people, and we will never forget him.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.


It’s my turn now to be planted

Put out to seed again

While the fruits of my earthly labours

Flourish in the sun and rain


It’s a wonderful day to be planted

In rich, deep loamy soil

A natural bed, for a tired gardener’s head

With green fingered hands of toil


Please plant a tree or bush for me

To celebrate a gardener’s life ways

I strove to enrich the world with beauty

Over many, many gardening days

Merry Christmas from Dunnville Horticultural Society!

By Deb Zynomirski

To The Haldimand Press

As I write this update, it is pouring down rain and a balmy 9 degrees! Not exactly the December weather we were expecting, but I for one am glad for the mild days. As 2020 draws to a close, I’m sure we are also glad to say goodbye to a difficult year.

I would like to thank the many Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) members and the Dunnville community for supporting our recent food drive for the Salvation Army. We were thrilled to collect 317 pounds of food for those in need in our little town!

As Christmas approaches, take some time to enjoy the great outdoors. The Thompson Creek Eco Centre has recently installed bluebird boxes along the trail around the Tallgrass Prairie. In addition, two large barn swallow nesting structures have been erected towards the west end of the park. It would be hard to miss them!

The project co-chairs are Debbie Thomas, and (Lead) Dan McKay. A great deal of time was invested by Dan in researching, building, and designing these structures. Egger Truck and Machine assisted with the installation, along with many dedicated volunteers. Next year we are hoping to welcome barn swallows, tree swallows, bluebirds, and other at-risk species to Thompson Creek.

Are you stuck for a gift idea for the gardener on your list? DHS has a limited number of Pollen Bee Nest homes for sale. They attract solitary bee pollinators which tend to be non-aggressive, and provide a home for them to lay eggs and nurture new bees. The cost is $25 for non-members, and $20 for members. We can provide front door drop off delivery. Contact me, Deb Zynomirski, to place an order.

Speaking of members, if you would like to purchase your 2021 membership, you may do so by mail. Simply send a cheque or money order ($10 single or $15 couple) to “Dunnville Horticultural Society”, PO Box 274, Station Main, Dunnville, N1A 2X5.

Finally, many of us will purchase or receive a beautiful pointsettia plant over the holidays. I must admit, I have killed many of these plants over the years, either from neglect or from too much kindness! One of our members, Marlene Link, offered advice some time ago on caring for your pointsettia: keep soil moist to the touch, water thoroughly, drain well before putting on a saucer (to avoid root rot), and place in a sunny location. I have followed this advice and successfully transplanted Christmas pointsettias to my garden in late May, where they continued to thrive!

Speaking of thriving … we are looking forward to doing just that in 2021! Although our monthly Program Nights are still on hiatus, your DHS Board continues to work behind the scenes, planning for next year. In the meantime, you can keep up with us on our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org. You can also contact me for more information at debzyn@gmail.com.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a safe, happy, and healthy 2021!

Deb Zynomirski is the President of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.