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Keeping Ontario Beautiful

Keeping Ontario Beautiful

April 2018 Meeting Information

On Thursday, April 19, 2018, speaker Kevin Kavanaugh will be speaking about "Succeeding with Magnolias in Southern Ontario".

Among the most primitive families of flowering plants, magnolias have long been celebrated for their bursts of spring flowers and their impressive foliage which often lends a tropical-like flair to the garden. Magnolias are an incredibly diverse group of shrubs and trees and range from small bushes that are only knee high to forest trees that tower over their surrounding neighbours. Depending on the cultivar, flowers may be pure white to deep pink, red and bright yellow. Although gaining increased acceptance in northern gardens, magnolias are still considered by many Ontario gardeners as a challenging group of plants given their cultural requirements and our comparatively harsh climate. With many recent introductions of cold hardy varieties there are now many cultivars that can perform well in southern Ontario provided the plants are well sited.

Kevin Kavanagh has been experimenting with more than 70 species and cultivars of magnolias in the gardens surrounding his nursery in Norfolk County. He will present his observations on some of the best performers to date, including those that survived the dreaded ‘Polar Vortices’ of past winters.

He is the owner of South Coast Gardens, a small specialty nursery and landscape design business that he launched in 2005 in heart of Ontario’s ‘Carolinian zone’. Although an avid gardener for much of his life, Kevin has spent most of his professional career in the field of biodiversity conservation working most recently for The Nature Conservancy of Canada and prior to that for 15 years with World Wildlife Fund Canada. He continues to undertake conservation work and is currently engaged in assessments of Anthracnose on native populations of Eastern Flowering Dogwood and Blight on American Chestnut.

Kevin holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) from McGill University, a M.Sc. from York University and several years of post-graduate research in Botany at the University of Toronto. He is a member of the Norfolk County Master Gardeners and sits on the Board of Directors of the Niagara Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada. Kevin is the author of several book chapters and articles celebrating Canada’s wild places and the rich biodiversity of the Carolinian zone.


The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m.

This meeting will also feature our first flower show of 2018.