2021 Trial Garden

Article submitted by Marilyn McArthur and published in the American Dahlia Society publication “Dahlias Today”.

Piper Creek Trial Garden Report 2021

By  Marilyn McArthur and Debbie Hatt

Enthusiastic members and volunteers are what makes our club vibrant and successful!  The “Alberta Dahlia and Glad Society” is the club associated with the Piper Creek Trial Garden and we are very fortunate to have several of the original founding members to share their extensive knowledge and leadership. The Piper Creek Trial Garden is located in Central Alberta at the home of Lorne & Marilyn McArthur and was spectacular in 2021 with 24 entries. The three heat ‘bubbles’ we had in July and August and the smoke from forest fires, stunted the growth of the plants despite regular watering but they really perked up in late August and September when the weather returned to more seasonal temperatures. 

Lorne McArthur has been the Trial Garden director for many years and Eileen Grant takes care of the associated paperwork.  Our secretary, Debbie Hatt, keeps everyone informed of events and happenings through email, our facebook page and the website. The facebook page especially, is used as a forum for comments and questions.  Lots of photos are shared and enjoyed after each event on the facebook page and our website. In 2021 we updated our website https://albertadahliaandgladsociety.com/ and we encourage everyone to enjoy the site.

The warmth and generosity of our hosts, Lorne and Marilyn McArthur, make the volunteers feel welcome and many come from a hundred miles away to our weekly work bees which are followed by a social time at the home of Lorne and Marilyn McArthur.  Many come for visits all year long and lifelong friendships have formed because of the club. Our membership increased to over 60 this year with many younger members being attracted by the beauty of the dahlia and glad flowers. We are so blessed to have a core group of members who are committed to continuing the Trial Garden and the club, and many others who don’t hesitate to volunteer whenever help is needed.


Marilyn McArthur is the current president of our club although many of the longtime members have taken their turns as president or in other executive positions. Ken Jensen encourages everyone to learn the basics of judging and gives judging courses each summer. He has been instrumental in making sure we have enough accredited and senior judges to continue the Trial Garden. Ken is also our ADS Representative and Eileen Grant is our NAGC representative.  Reg Powys-Lybbe is our resident expert in gladiolus and heads our judging courses for glads. Doug Rumsey is our Treasurer and Mike Walliser is our membership guy. We were sad to see Ken and Anne Owens retire from the club as Vice-President this year.

We were able to hold meetings and events in between the Covid pandemic waves and kept everyone safe.  We had our annual two-day “Summer Celebration” in August where we had special speakers and judging courses.  As in past years, we had an arrangement class that was free to all and everyone was able to take home a finished arrangement.  This year Reg Powys-Lybbe held a seminar outlining the different arrangement principles and design features which was recorded and sent to the NAGC for use as an educational component.   A fun ‘Viewer’s Choice’ contest was held with the finished arrangements followed by a roast beef/brisket supper.  The second day consisted of the judging courses directed by Ken Jensen and four people moved up a judging level.

Our annual flower show in August was held at the Trial Garden in a large party tent which the club purchased this year and it turned out so well that we will have it outside again in future years.  One of our members hung some of her quilts and we are considering having a combination quilt display with our flower show next year.  We sold bouquets during the show which was a good fund-raiser. Our other main fundraiser is the sale of the dahlia tubers in the Spring.  The pandemic forced us to sell online rather than at a venue but this has turned out to be a good thing and we will continue with online sales in the future.

Everyone enjoyed our ‘Progressive Lunch’ garden tour to three member gardens in the country.  We all were inspired by each of yards which all featured dahlias (of course) and all were different and unique.  Muffins and coffee were provided by Debbie & Darrell Hatt at their acreage, and then a hearty pasta salad at Shirley & Evan Cullum farm, and finally dessert and coffee at Ron and Terri-Lynn Dodds farm. The day was cool and misty but the company was warm and friendly.

As well, in August, we all met at Reg and Marlene Powys-Lybbe home in High River, Alberta where we toured their lovely garden and Reg showed us how to propagate glads from seed.  Last fall we recorded Lorne McArthur digging, cleaning, drying, and storing his dahlia tubers and it is on our website for reference.  We normally have several meetings a year and then a ‘Games’ night in December although we weren’t able to last year because of the pandemic.

Next summer (2022) we will be hosting the North American Gladiolus Council and we are excited to show off our beautiful Alberta with the world-famous Banff National Park and the equally famous Tyrell Dinosaur museum, not to mention the wide open prairie vistas and big, sunny sky. We excitingly invite you all next year!

The Top Scoring Dahlias were:

Related Images: