There have been many people who have influenced my life in horticulture. I have written about a few of them over the years. You still hear occasionally about how I inherited my green thumb from my mother. Although she has been gone since 2009, I think about her every single time I work in my own gardens.
You may have read my article in 2011 about the passing of Rupert Waas. He was an incredible plantsman who shared his knowledge with so many us in the landscaping trade. Working along side Rupert always included a lesson about the plants we were working with, where they thrived and how they should be maintained to be their best.
I have always found sharing that knowledge to be a two-way street. Rupert would often ask me about newer techniques and fertilizing recommendations that I had learned about in college. If you know me at all, you would have heard me say many times that you never stop learning when you garden! There is always information to share.
I don’t know a person who was more willing to share information and encourage others to learn about gardening than Suzanne Hanna. When I found out on December 3rd that Suzanne had passed away the night before, I was as shocked as I am sure so many of us in the gardening community where.
I know I am a little late writing a tribute to her, but when I sat down a week ago to pen my article, I was simply too upset to compose it. I can’t imagine how devasted her family was to lose Suzanne. She was truly the heart of her family.
I can’t remember when I first met Suzanne. It was either at a City Beautification meeting in the late 80’s or at a local garden centre I worked at during that time. What I do recall was admiring how she was such a driving force in the horticultural community.
I am basically a very shy person, never as outgoing as Suzanne was. Once comfortable in a setting, I manage well, but I have always found it hard to meet new people and get involved in new ventures. Suzanne pulled me into her sphere and gave me the confidence to be more involved in the local gardening scene.
I can honestly say that she was the influence behind me writing articles for local media, speaking at many local events and venues, and joining committees and groups. City Beautification, the Sault Horticultural Society, community gardening, local food security, pollinator gardens, ecology issues and so much more. Suzanne excelled in all those areas. One of her gifts was to invite others into her world and encourage all of us to be involved.
I also had the pleasure of working with Suzanne at New North Greenhouses for many years. She was a valuable member of our team. She shared her vast gardening knowledge, enthusiasm for planting, love of teaching young people and her community minded passion with all of us as well as the customers we served.
Whether it was an event at the garden centre, or a staff get together, Suzanne was often the driving force and life of the ‘party’ as she shared stories and laughed with all of us. However as much as the horticulture community was her passion, we all knew her family came first.
I have heard time and time again that Suzanne was the glue that held an event or committee together, but first she was the centre of her family. She was a wife who supported her husband Mike, a mother to three children she was immensely proud of, a daughter who supported her mother, a sister who was there for her siblings and an extremely proud grandmother who shared with me the wonders of grandmahood!
I am blessed to have called Suzanne a friend and will miss her greatly, as I know so many people will.