If you have been wandering in the gardens of Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) in the Vasina Center, or in the gardens of Edwardian, Saskatchewan Government House in Regina, “Who planted all these flowers and took care of all these plants?” you are not alone. While these gardens are impressive, the overall contribution made by the Regional Capital Commission (PCCC) gardening team is even more impressive. The team is led by fruit and vegetable supervisor Steven Weir, and three decades later it is clear he still loves the job.
Stephen, what does it mean to be a gardener?
For us in PCC, our team of gardeners is in love with plants. They look at growing, growing, caring for and caring for those plants, and that is, in short, a gardener.
We like to see plants grow. We want to make sure the plants do their best. As a gardener, they look for ways to propagate plants that may be better than other methods. You are a scientist; They are looking at a disease and trying to figure out how to best treat or eliminate those diseases. You are a little entomologist; Sometimes you need to learn about pests and the best ways to work with your greenhouse crops and outdoor crops. We like to use as many environmentally friendly methods as possible.
What do you and the gardening team do?
I take care of all the gardening on a daily basis. I make all the yeast, I order, the days of sowing and planting – the whole planting program. I will lead a team of three leaders to organize their staff to implement those directions.
This is my 35th year with the Wisconsin Center. The first 12 years were in the repair room. While I was doing maintenance, I was fortunate enough to have a place where I could work alone, so I was able to work with plants in addition to my maintenance work. As I entered the gardening department, I was able to practice some of the things that really helped me. A.D. In 1999, he had the opportunity to move to a vegetable garden. I started as a Horticulture 2 and then I got into Horticulture 3, which is a leader for field workers, and those are the people I work with directly. As the current supervisor.
As both the Wiscana Center and the Government House Horticultural Supervisor, I have a responsibility to design all flower beds. There are about 40 flower beds and approximately 37,000 plants in Queen Elizabeth II’s gardens – varying from year to year. There are a total of about 73,000 plants that we grow at the Waskanna Center.
We also grow for Regina, and they have about 42,000 plants. The Wakana Center and the Government House are the main components of the PCC. There are an additional 8,000 plants that we grow for the government. It has been three years since we raised high-end plants for the RCMP Heritage Center, and that includes an additional 14,000 plants. So, this year, we are growing about 140,000 plants in our three greenhouses.
We do a lot of indoor work. Regina University, the Legislature, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and some of our headquarters. You can use your skills to try to incorporate a small amount of green space into a concrete building. Plant displays, such as meetings and long-term service invitations, also complete our work.
How often do you plan your garden design, and how do you make decisions about which plants to use?
Each year, we are close to one year of planting. Now I go to the gardens, talking to my staff, to find out what works with certain plants.
We are looking at the catalogs, trying to find ideas for next year. With a few new species, they always try and combine reality. And in September or October, I start doing my designs for flower beds and then I start producing seeds, and that’s all done before December. Seeds come immediately from our suppliers, and in late January we begin planting in greenhouses so that we are ready to put them in the ground immediately after the long green weekend.
How many people are in your group, and why are they special?
During the winter we go down to four employees, and that basically means we take care of our internal work and displays and start preparing for the future. It is very inclined in November, December, and January and then the workers start coming back. We must set a time and return to 18.
Working outdoors also includes taking out flowers from the beds during rainy days and when there is snow on the ground. For the workers, that is a challenge, but they are soldiers. The recent heatwaves – and the past few years and more – have to take care of each other, making sure no one overheats. There is more to their work than some of the flowers.
Our team is second to none. One thing that has commented to me over the years is: ‘Why do you always smile? You are always happy here. It’s nice to hear that. To be that way, they must be happy with what they are doing. To surround yourself with such a group, how can you win?
What do you find rewarding and inspiring?
Because everything was closed due to COVID-19, he was very worried that we would not be able to plant gardens. It is important not only for people to work but also for the safety of citizens. To have a place to go. They can relax, unwind and forget about Kovid. I think it was very important that we were able to plant gardens last year.
When I hear people comment that they are passing by and seeing, how they feel, wow, there is no such thing. These are the things that keep you going. That is treatment for me.
Gardening is a lifelong lesson for me. I still have much to learn about horticulture and vegetation, and that will continue.
We are constantly trying to develop new programs for gardening at the Government House and the Wascana Center. We were able to spend a lot more time here at Wascana Center’s QEII Gardens because this is part of the show. My mind is racing like a hamster with the things I want to try here, or they will at least have the opportunity to set them up so that someone else can finish them after I retire. Being able to work in this area is a real joy.