If you ask a Calgary gardener why they love the zoo, there’s a good chance the answer will be “for the gardens, of course!” But did you know that the zoo’s botanical gardens are not just a great place to visit, but also a great place to learn?
As part of our ongoing Who’s who at the zoo series, we’d like you to meet Susan Blackwood, our Botanical Education Program Coordinator. She’s the lady behind our busy, five-person continuing education team. Together, they run a huge variety of botanical and landscaping courses aimed to interest both adults and children and recreational gardeners as well as professionals.
Susan is a graduate of Olds College, as well as the zoo’s own Master Gardener program, and has been leading our horticultural and botanical programs since 2012.
Much of Susan’s time is dedicated to our botanical foundation courses, such as Woody Plant Identification, Landscape Design and the Master Gardener Training Program, an intensive 16-week program which runs annually from November to March.
She plans and coordinates these incredibly popular courses, but more than anything she loves instructing – and the opportunity to share in the joy of learning with other adults.
“I love demystifying botanical Latin with or for them, watching them hone their observation skills or dedicate themselves to mastering a whole new level of understanding that we can offer…that’s what makes my day!” says Susan. “I delight in the fact that the courses can highlight the horticulture expertise that we have at the zoo, the amazing collection of trees and shrubs throughout the grounds, the collections in the Dorothy Harvie Gardens and the indoor tropical and ethnobotany collections in the ENMAX Conservatory.”
Some of the other continuing education programs offered by the zoo include sleepovers and birthday parties, as well as the annual garden centre bus tours; a popular opportunity for gardening groups to visit and tour local garden centres in search of inspiration and advice.
The zoo has held a special place in Susan’s heart ever since she completed her first summer job/practicum here during college, back when the North America section (now Canadian Wilds) was being built. She particularly enjoys working in the beautiful environment of the zoo’s gardens, and loves walking across the Discovery Trail bridge as the trees come into bloom in the spring.
If you’re one of Calgary’s many avid gardeners, why not plan a visit to enjoy the wonders of the beautiful Dorothy Harvie Gardens and ENMAX Conservatory? And be sure to check out our selection of botanical and landscaping courses.