Green, with ivy
Greenhouse welcomes new staff, gardeners

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 05/00) - Inuvik may still be covered in a thick blanket of snow, but things are turning green at the greenhouse.

The Inuvik Garden Society succeeded in converting the old Grollier Hall hockey arena into a massive community greenhouse last summer. The renovations are still ongoing, but this spring will be the launch of the first full growing season at the complex.

Hired to oversee the botanical experiment are co-ordinator Lori Hough from Yellowknife, and assistant Carrie Young. Both were already busy doing some transplanting last week.

"There are a lot of unknowns at this point," said Hough. "We don't know how the plots were affected by the winter and the temperature still goes below zero in here overnight, and we don't know exactly how 24-hour daylight will affect certain plants."

But Hough and Young said they're looking forward to tackling these and other challenges during this experimental season. Thankfully, both sport proven green thumbs.

Before moving to Yellowknife five years ago, Hough operated a greenhouse co-operative along with four other women in St. Peter's, N.S., growing and selling bedding plants, flowers, trees and shrubs. She said while many gardeners would kill for more sunlight, one of the biggest challenges in Inuvik is to find a way to cope with, and regulate, the midnight sun.

"A lot of plants need a rest period, too," she said. "But we've got vents along the roof peak that are hooked up to an automated thermostat, so that the temperate is controlled."

Young added they're also looking into shade cloths to protect the more sensitive plants from the effects of the sun.

Young, a horticulturist who recently graduated, said before heading North she'd worked in a variety of gardens in southern Canada -- ranging from the Governor General's private Palm Room in Ottawa to the public Allan Gardens in Toronto.

"That was the other end of the spectrum," she said, "where you'd have homeless people coming in and wandering around -- and compared to the governor general's garden, which was by invitation only."

On the subject of invitations, Hough and Young want to remind residents that the society is holding an open house at the greenhouse during the society's annual general meeting set for this Saturday and Sunday.

They'll be meeting members and visitors and holding three free workshops on an introduction to gardening, soil basics and container gardening.

Further workshops will be held throughout the summer, but they will be open for members only. The greenhouse has about 70 plots in total, but several have been set aside for local groups including the schools and elders. And the others are going fast, added Hough.

The co-ordinator said plans for plants include the sale of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce to local grocers and the sale of bedding plants -- both flowers and vegetables -- as well as flower baskets to members and the public, throughout the season.

Hough added a mushroom room and courtyard fit for picnics are also being planned. She said she can't wait until the greenhouse is in full bloom, and Young agreed.

"I'm looking forward to looking out those windows and seeing plots full of plants and just the people milling about chatting," said Houg