Thompson Rivers University

Talk to the Experts: from garage to greenhouse: meet floriculturist Ian Robertson

  Posted on: April 18, 2018

Friends of the Gardens plant tours 2017

Ian Robertson leads a TRU Friends of the Gardens weekly tour.

Plants scrub the air we breathe, boost our well-being with colours and smells and meet our daily food needs.

As the spring growing season begins to blossom, we thought it was timely to turn this month’s TRU Talk to the Experts episode over to a discussion of plants and their importance in our lives.

In the audio clips below, TRU floriculturist Ian Robertson—who in a previous life was a heavy duty mechanic—shares tips and insights during his chat with show host Paul Graham on Kamloops station Radio NL.

Horticulture Gardens bridge and plants

The TRU Horticulture Gardens are worth taking a tour.

As a member of TRU’s grounds crew, you’ll see Robertson helping with enhancements, maintenance and cleanup of the plant life from tiny to tall. He is a graduate of TRU’s horticulture program and is president of TRU Friends of the Gardens (FOG)—a community group for gardeners who have thumbs with any shade of green. TRU FOG also organizes a range of events, from Horticulture Horizons and the annual plant sale in May to the free weekly tours running May through August.

A friendly challenge to listeners

During the episode, Robertson offers up a friendly challenge to listeners: re-imagine an everyday object as a planter.

“Instead of recycling it, we’re going to take it and up-cycle it in another way, like an old chair, or a dresser, or an old pair of gumboots,” said Robertson. “Plant them. Go ahead and put some holes in there so there’s some drainage. Put some soil in there—it will really make you feel good, it really will. The crazier it is, the better it will be, honestly. And if it’s weird, it will be even better. There’s something about creating something that takes you to another level as well.”

What follows is their conversation and for your convenience, the audio is split into two clips.

Clip 1—16 minutes, 50 seconds

Discussion items: Definition of a floriculturist, general plant health, growing zones explained, how winter impacts spring and summer growing seasons, Ian’s path from heavy duty mechanics to horticulture, Ian digs up his grandmother’s roses, the grounds at TRU, beautifying the world using plants, TRU has one of the largest gardens in BC outside the Lower Mainland, the changing TRU grounds, tips for keeping deer away from plants.


Clip 2—15:09

Discussion items: Tips for keeping deer away from plants continued, future horticulture projects at TRU, pros and cons of water features, TRU Friends of the Gardens, annuals vs perennials, weekly gardens tours, the title master gardener explained, types of questions asked during tours, one way to get around having to weed, what is in Ian’s garden, landscapes and well-being, friendly challenge to listeners, secrets to a healthy lawn, plants have high and low seasons, FOG plant sale on Saturday, May 5, 2018.