Beauty is part of the equation, but there are far more crucial aspects to creating green spaces and gardens.
With this in mind, Salmon Arm Fair organizers have chosen “Be Part of the Growth” as this year’s theme and have invited world-famous, master gardener Brian Minter to make a 90-minute visual presentation on connecting points between people, wildlife and environment at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session.
Minter says the world is beginning to understand the importance of plants and gardens in addressing the needs of our planet that is in crisis.
Data from the World Health Organization indicates people need to have access to at least one hectare of green space within a five-minute walk and more than two hectares within a 15 minute stroll.
“When you have a green space it is calming, makes people more sociable and gives them a sense of well-being,” Minter says, noting creating more such spaces, is saving Britain $2.7 billion per year in health-care costs and that the Hague in Holland and Italy have designed the world’s first forest apartments. “A firm of Italian architects has designed a building that is 20 stories high, with 10,000 trees on the outside.”
The same firm is working with China to develop the first forest city in that country.
Back on the health front, Minter says Japanese scientists have discovered that trees in a forested area emit antimicrobial phytoncides, compounds they produce to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs.
The Japanese data cites a health benefit to humans as well.
Two eight-hour days spent in a forest increases by 56 percent the number of white blood cells that fight disease and boost the immune system by 49 percent, says Minter referring to the data.
“Plants produce oxygen and the carbon they sequester is immense, so getting more plants in the ground is beneficial to the planet.”
Minter says Canada and the U.S. have been working together to address the planet’s dramatic loss of pollinator plants. Together the countries have already exceeded the goal of creating one million certified pollinator gardens within five years.
“It’s not just about us, it’s about wildlife and a means of food security,” he adds, noting that most most people are unaware of the importance of establishing green spaces and gardens, the work that is being accomplished, or health benefits. “But we need to be strategic about what, where and how we do this.”
Minter says his passion for gardening is inherited from his grandparents, who ran a dairy farm in the Lower Mainland.
“They were both from England and my grandmother had a lovely perennial garden,” he says. “It always impressed me that she did that despite a hard life working on a dairy farm and bringing up seven children.”
Well-known from his appearances in newspapers, radio and TV, Minter earned a BA at UBC. He began sharing his passion for plants in 1970 when he and his wife, Faye, purchased Country Garden Store, a garden shop that had been part of Chilliwack’s community since 1957.
The Minters bought a property in the community in 1970 and in 1980, opened the 13-hectare, world-famous Minter Gardens. The family closed the gardens in 2013 to focus their energies on the garden store.