Durham Master Gardeners

inspiring home gardeners

DMG Bios

Sherry Dodson - Coordinator
Sherry has been an active member with the Durham Master Gardeners since 2011. She completed the Horticulturist Certificate from the University of Guelph in 2014 and received her Certificate in Horticultural Therapy in 2016 from the Toronto Botanical Garden. She is a Horticultural Therapist at WindReach Farm in Ashburn, Ontario. Sherry believes that people and plants are naturally connected, and she is passionate about working with those connections to support people who need help to feel better, move easier and be more physically active, and be more positive in their lives. She is committed to growing plants in harmony with nature, supporting birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Rabeeya Amjad
Rabeeya has recently completed her Horticulture certificate from the University of Guelph. Rabeeya has a day job in Business Planning and has a family business of tropical plants, but is passionate about gardening. Her area of focus is native gardening and creating urban spaces for native birds and pollinators.

Norine Blyth
Norine has been gardening for most of her adult life. She loves the peace and quiet that gardening brings to her. She completed her Master Gardener Certificate from Dalhousie University in 2020. Walking with and without dogs is another passion of hers.

Pam (Love) Clarke
Pam has been an active member of the Durham Master Gardeners for over 14 years, and has served for many years on the Board of the Master Gardeners of Ontario. Pam has a Horticultural Certificate from the University of Guelph. She describes herself as a “generalist” gardener. Following a long banking career, Pam gained practical gardening experience operating her own gardening services business until 2014. Now Pam concentrates on sharing her gardening knowledge and finding ways to enjoy and make her garden easy to manage.

Elaine Davidson
Elaine has been gardening for over 60 years. Her first plants were Nasturtiums that she grew for the flowers and were used by her mother in salads to add flavour. Since that time she has kept a keen interest in using the herbs and flowers grown in her garden for cooking, taking many courses along the way to help improve her herbal knowledge. Elaine’s garden while small, is a mixture of flowers, vegetables and herbs all grown alongside one another. Elaine is a member of 5 regular garden clubs including Durham Master Gardeners and over 7 specialty garden clubs serving on the Boards of several of them.

Robynne Dunn
Robynne started gardening with her father at a very young age while growing vegetables in their backyard. Her love of gardening has continued throughout her life. Robynne has a Certificate in Landscape Design from George Brown College and is continually looking for new ways to expand her knowledge and share her passion for gardening. Joining Master Gardeners has been a fantastic opportunity to do both, and to meet some amazing people who share her enthusiasm for getting outside and marveling at all that nature has to offer.

Karen Durnin
Karen has been with the Durham Master Gardeners since 2011 and has a Certificate in Horticulture from the University of Guelph. Her passion for gardening began early. She grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario where she learned how to grow, harvest and preserve a large variety of fruits and vegetables. She has carried this tradition on in her own gardens, growing many heirloom vegetables and a wide assortment of herbs. In the last number of years, her focus has expanded into the area of naturalized gardens and a love of native plants. She has become increasingly aware of how essential it is to provide habitat for birds and pollinators in an urban setting. As a master gardener, Karen has enjoyed the opportunity to help new and experienced gardeners learn how to grow their own food and create pollinator friendly gardens.

Roman Halkiewicz
Roman is a new Master Gardener in training. He spent four years completing a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in Poland and graduated from Poznan University of Live Sciences in 2012. In addition, he continued his education in Canada for two more years, and graduated from Durham College with honours as a Horticulture Technician in 2015. Studying and designing human natural living space has been Roman’s passion for over a decade. He currently works for the City of Toronto as a Gardener.

Ingrid Janssen
Ingrid is a horticulturist, speaker, blogger and master gardener. She has been gardening for most of her life and is a passionate, some would say “crazy gardener”. She is an inspirational speaker who has appeared on Rogers TV Durham and has spoken at Canada Blooms several times. She has both ornamental and food production gardens on her country property and has been a dedicated native plant enthusiast for over 30 years. Ingrid received her Horticulturist Diploma from the University of Guelph and is an active member of several horticultural and plant societies. She has been a member of the Durham Master Gardeners since 2012.

Ann Joyner
Ann has spent her working and private life devoted to protecting our natural spaces and ecosystems as a consulting professional Planner.  For twenty years, she has lived with her family on a farm property where she grows vegetables, berries, hops and flower gardens, as well as field pollinator plants for her active bee hives. She recently completed her Master Gardener training at Dalhousie University where she became fascinated with the intersection between pollinators and garden design as well as opportunities for companion planting as a way to improve garden health and resiliency. Ann has a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University. Ann joined the Durham Master Gardeners in 2018.

Greg Merlin
Greg is a new Master Gardener in training following the course of study through Dalhousie University. He has always loved to spend his free time in the garden. As an OHA show Judge, Greg enjoys judging to see what other gardeners are growing and is always on the lookout for something new and challenging to grow in his garden. He also enjoys growing peonies and can always find room for one more.

Jennifer Murphy
Jennifer is an avid vegetable gardener, also with an interest in garden design and native plants.  In the winter months you will find her reading garden design books and seed catalogues with graph paper in hand, sketching out her next garden bed.  In the summer, she is puttering among the plants, taking macro pictures of insects, harvesting and cooking for her family. Jennifer is also a Master Gardener in Training.

Sharon Rabenda
Sharon likes the sense of peace and well being that gardening brings to her. She inherited the love of gardening from her mom and has enjoyed 'digging in the dirt' for many years. In 2018 she began online studies with University of Guelph completing the Horticulture Diploma in 2021. In 2019, after 30+ years of working in the finance field, she began working in the horticulture field at a local garden centre and golf course. Her particular interests include shade gardening, native plants, drought tolerant perennials, soil health and compost. She has been a member of DMG since 2019.

Judy Rivers
Judy has enjoyed gardening for over 30 years and completed the Landscape Design Program at Humber College. She has been with Durham Master Gardeners since 2017. Judy worked at a large local nursery for over seven years providing advice and assistance with plant selection and landscape designs. Active in her community, Judy is a member of the Whitby Sustainability Advisory Committee and is a past member of the Whitby In Blooms committee and assisted with the annual garden tour and Speakers Series. She is also a palliative and bereavement volunteer with VON Durham Hospice. Judy completed a Certificate in Horticultural Therapy in 2018 through the Toronto Botanical Gardens - combining her love of plants and serving others within her community. In her spare time, she enjoys walks in nature and creating unique terrariums and planters using succulents.

Gini Sage
Gini has over 30 years of gardening experience in urban and country settings.  She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry, and earned a diploma in Landscape Design from the University of Guelph. Gini is an active Master Gardener, volunteering with Master Gardeners of Ontario for over fifteen years, as well as being a member of several local garden societies. Her primary interests are expanding the use of native plants in the urban landscape, incorporation of vegetables and herbs in ornamental gardens and the development of creative solutions for landscape problems.

Tracey Smyth
Tracey has been with the Durham Master Gardeners since 2012 and continues to upgrade her horticultural and design skills through seminars and online courses with the University of Guelph. Until recently she ran a residential garden coaching and landscape design business in Durham Region but has retired in order to focus on designing and building a new native garden on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

Amanda Steinberg
Amanda recently traded in her combat boots and cadpat for a trowel and secateurs. She retired from the military intent on pursuing a low stress life. Having inherited the green thumb gene, she is currently putting that thumb to good use as she finishes the Horticulture Technician program at Durham College. She is a Master Garden in Training with keen interest in the bug world, perennial plants, xeriscaping and teaching her children to respect nature and water.

Laurelee Stocks
After teaching for 34 years Laurelee is now loving retired life and wonders how she ever had time to work she's so busy.  She volunteers with the Toronto Zoo and a food bank.  She is working on the Horticulture Certificate from the University of Guelph and considers herself a lifelong learner.  She is passionate about starting plants from seeds, native plants, and growing vegetables.  She loves being outside and you will usually find her out in all types of weather walking her dog or working in her garden.

Anne Van De Velde
Anne van de Velde has been passionate about gardening since the age of four, when she was a "flower-preneur" at the side of the road, displaying wild flowers for sale in her little red wagon. These days instead of selling flowers, you can find her eating them, as her interests include edible landscaping, growing food not lawns, planting habitat for all creatures, and reconciliation through gardening with native plants. Anne is a Master-Gardener-In-Training, having just completed her first year of studies.

Helen Vander Byl
Helen grew up on a farm in Eastern Ontario where her love of the outdoors was nourished. She is particularly interested in composting, vegetable gardening and native plants. Since retiring in 2015 she has been spending a lot of time in her gardens in Whitby and at the cottage in the Algonquin Highlands. Helen has recently completed the Master Gardener training through the University of Guelph and looks forward to being a life long learner. She has been a member of the Durham Master Gardeners since 2018.

Cori Whittington
Cori has been with Durham Master Gardeners since 2013, and has loved gardening and caring for nature and the environment since childhood. After a career in teaching she is enjoying spending her days outside volunteering and working at a stable, farm and native plants nursery.

Isia Yeo
Isia has a love for the outdoors; hiking, camping, canoeing and or course gardening. Gardening offers her the opportunity to create and share her knowledge of plants with her grandchildren. She has her Sustainable Landscape Certificate from Guelph University and is working on completing her Horticultural Certificate.

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