COVID-19: A Message from the MARS President

COVID-19:  A Message from the MARS President

 October 2020 – Fall Update

To My Fellow Marsians:

This note is about how important it is in these uncertain times for us all to stay as
connected as possible. Even with all the cancellations because of COVID-19, the ARS
and MARS have actually accomplished a lot during the past year, and it is timely to
review our accomplishments and to consider what is being planned to maintain interest
in MARS through our forthcoming fall and winter activities.

Of course, the main MARS activity over the past year was our hosting the ARS
Convention in Parksville last September, which went extremely well, both from our
perspective and from the many positive comments we received. That meeting may be
the last big ARS meeting for a while, as both 2020 meetings (Portland, OR, in the spring
and Gettysburg, PA, in the fall) have been cancelled, and while the 2021 meetings are
still be being planned, there is no certainty at this time that they will actually be held!

Thanks again to all the MARS members that helped make our convention so fun and
informative. It showed how much can be accomplished when we all work together! The
fact we did so well financially has also left MARS in a strong financial position to
weather the loss of income from this year’s spring activities (plant sale and garden tour),
helped by reduced expenses because of the cancellation of our recent monthly

Through the spring and summer, we also had great photo contributions by many
Marsians for both the two virtual spring truss show events, and the ongoing follow-up
“What’s Blooming in our Gardens” showcase, both expertly displayed by our great
webmaster Diane Henders on the MARS website, and then assisted through the
summer by Margot Moser. What a talented and enthusiastic group of gardeners we are!

Another ongoing MARS activity that is progressing well has been with our propagation
group – the cuttings we started last fall were well-rooted by May, when they were
removed from VIU and babied by the Loyers, Marilyn, Sherry and myself through the
summer. They are now ready to be potted up into larger containers, and Rose has been
helping in this regard. Thanks to Geoff Ball at Milner Gardens, we have arranged to
over-winter them in a section of the nursery sales area at Milner Gardens, and they will
be moved there in late October.

So, how are MARS and the other BC ARS chapters (District 1) planning to keep some
semblance of social interaction! This issue was the main discussion point at the recent
District 1 President’s meeting at Milner Gardens a few weeks ago, and a number of
suggestions were considered by the MARS executive in early September.

  1. We feel that communication is very important, so MARS is in the process of
    establishing a phone committee so that we can help make sure all Marsians are
    keeping in touch with each other.
  2. We are investigating as to whether some form of monthly meetings can be held
    at the Qualicum Civic Centre, likely with a maximum of 50 people, social
    distancing, no shared food or drinks, and masks, for a PowerPoint presentation.
    If possible, we hope to have an October meeting there.
  3. For those that are interested, it may otherwise be possible to arrange for a
    ZOOM meeting, where a presentation would be available at the Qualicum Beach
    Civic Centre as well as available to those who prefer to watch at home. I have
    contacted Steve Hootman and the RSF and have tentatively arranged for him to
    give a mid-November presentation to us.
  4. Another rhodo cutting propagation effort is being planned for late October/early
    November. The idea is that cuttings would be prepared and planted in flats at
    Marilyn’s garage and driveway and would then be transported to VIU for grow
    out. I have been in discussion with Christine Quist, the manager there, and we
    should know in a week or so whether this is possible.
  5. In the broader view, Don Smart and I have been working hard to make JARS as
    interesting as possible, so you will all continue to receive the journal every three
    months. I hope that you find the material in JARS great reading!

In summary, the MARS executive is actively trying to develop interesting activities that
will keep us all connected, and this being the fall, we hope that all of you will stay with
MARS during this challenging pandemic time and renew your MARS membership (only
$30!) in the next few months.

MARS is a great society, and when the pandemic ultimately fades away, I hope that
MARS will remain a vibrant, dynamic society, but this can only occur if we have your
support now!

Finally, it is so strange not to have seen most of you since March and during the spring
and summer, when we have typically had many joint activities – spring chapter
meetings, our truss show and plant sale, our garden tour and our June potluck social
get-together, so I can only hope that you are all doing well and not suffering too much
from physical-distancing and a relative lack of social contacts. Personally, Dorothy and
I are both well, but we really miss the greatly reduced contacts with close friends, and
with young grandchildren close-by, are somewhat concerned about possible exposure
to colds, etc. when school reopens, as they and their parents have been the main
people in our “bubble”!

Please everyone stay safe, and I look forward to seeing many of you in a few weeks at
our AGM.



 March 2020

Dear Fellow MARS Members –

As you might have expected, with great sadness the MARS Executive has decided to cancel the 2020 MARS Truss Show and Plant Sale on April 18, the Mother’s Day Garden Tour on May 9 and 10 and the MARS Bus Tour to Victoria being planned for May 12.

Many members have put a great deal of effort into these activities over the past six months or so, and so I would particularly like to acknowledge all the effort put in by the Plant Sale Committee members Tony Ansdell, Marilyn Dawson, Rose Prufer, Lars Stefanyk, Kathy Loyer and Guy Loyer. The Garden Tour Committee members did a huge amount of preparation – just finding the gardens takes many days and many people driving around and knocking on doors.  Garden Tour Chair Louise Cotterill worked diligently with Marilyn Dawson, Karen Bennett, Nicola Lupton, Linda Derkach, Tony Ansdell, Gillian Walker and Joanne Hamilton.

And finally, our appreciation to the garden owners who offered their beautiful gardens for the community to enjoy.  Without their generosity and hard work readying their gardens, our tour would not be the exciting community event and tradition that it has become.

I know many MARS members have signed up to participate in some, if not all, of these events, and so I would like to thank the whole MARS community for their great support of our society’s activities. Without this support, none of these activities could be attempted.

I know I am expressing the thanks from all of you for this great effort by many MARS members, and we really appreciate all they have done. Hopefully, this self-isolation and disruption will end with all of us well, but my suspicion is that it will last for months, not weeks! Let’s just hope is passes sooner rather than later!

Hope to see you all again soon, but most importantly, stay safe and well,


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