Award-winning Penticton gardeners spill the dirt on great flowers

Perfect peonies and beautiful begonias aren't too hard to grow, but you've got to start right.

Judges Anne Ginnes and Barbara Giesbricht consider an impressive collection of roses at the Penticton and District Garden Club’s annual flower show.

Judges Anne Ginnes and Barbara Giesbricht consider an impressive collection of roses at the Penticton and District Garden Club’s annual flower show.

The secret to beautiful begonias, perfect peonies and robust roses is all in the dirt, according to some award-winning Penticton gardeners.

“You can’t have a good garden without good dirt,” said Theresa Kondor, who picked up a couple of first-prize ribbons Saturday in the Penticton and District Garden Club’s annual flower show.

Kondor won for her bowl of pansies and for top fragrant flower, a pink Peace rose. She prefers the variety because of its powerful aroma and hardiness.

“They grow like a weed here in the Okanagan,” Kondor said. “I had a friend in Kelowna that had one and she couldn’t destroy it. She tried, and it would come up every year with beautiful roses.”

Besides good dirt, she also advised people to research the plants they intend to grow before plunging a spade into the ground.

“You should have a vision of your garden before you even start,” Kondor said.

Tania Carter, who earned top spot in a handful of categories, including hybrid lilies and tree peonies, agreed, but added that some organic covering over top of quality dirt is also important.

“I think mulch is the key,” she said, because it maintains “a good moist ground so that things don’t dry out too much.”

Of course, even the best advice is for naught if Mother Nature doesn’t co-operate.

Horticulturalist Anne Ginns, who helped judge the show, said she was pleased with the quality of entries despite what’s been a soggy spring.

“We’ve had a really peculiar season and it’s been hard to get good flowers because of the constant rain,” she said. “And its so cold, things are way behind.”

All three women are members of the local garden club, which meets once a month at the library auditorium to hear from guest speakers and take in parlour shows. According to Carter, the group has 74 members and has existed in one form or another for about 80 years. You can visit it online at www.gardenclubpenticton.ca