MHS Resources: The Prairie Garden
The Prairie Garden is a non-profit, annual publication dedicated to the advancement of horticulture in the northern Prairies. It is a digest-sized (about 5.5 by 8.5 inches), soft-covered book that has been published by a Winnipeg-based volunteer committee since 1937.
The Prairie Garden began as the Annual Report of the Winnipeg Horticultural Society and included not only the society’s annual reports, but also informative articles by prominent local horticulturists. Except during the war years 1940, 1943, and 1944, it appeared under the title The Winnipeg Flower Garden from 1937 to 1954 and was free to the society’s members when they paid their annual membership. Its unique focus on gardening under the challenging conditions of the northern Prairies made it popular far beyond Winnipeg. Reflecting its ever-expanding readership, the 1955 edition was renamed The Flower Garden. Two years later, it was renamed again: from the 1957 edition on, it has been called The Prairie Garden.
This reinvention as a regional publication coincides with the tenure of its first official editor Gladwyn Switzer “Glad” Reycraft. A long-time director of the Winnipeg Horticultural Society, he became chairman of the Flower Garden and then Prairie Garden Committee from 1955 to 1961, in effect the editor, a title expressly ascribed to him in the editions from 1962 to 1973.
The book continued to be published under the auspices of the Winnipeg Horticultural Society until 1999-2000, when the society was disbanded and the Prairie Garden Committee became an independent non-profit. Since 2020, the committee has been officially incorporated as TPG Publications Inc.
The hundreds of experts who have written for The Prairie Garden are a virtual Who’s Who of prairie horticulture: for example, Frank Leith Skinner, Henry Heard Marshall, John Walker, Louis Lenz, and Lynn Collicutt; more recently Wilbert Ronald, Sara Williams, Kevin Twomey, and Colleen Zacharias, to name just a few. Past contributors have included professional plant developers and scientists associated with institutions like the Morden Research Station, nurseries, and universities. Others have been landscape designers, horticultural educators, and garden journalists, as well as experienced amateurs and, of course, members of the committee. For a listing by subject of all the articles to date with their authors and the issues and page numbers where they appear, please refer to the Prairie Garden Index.
The format of the book has changed over time. Colour photos first appeared in 1961, and starting in 1974, a colour section on a special topic became a popular feature. A portion of the articles were also chosen to reflect that theme. In 1987, Lynn Collicutt was the first to be invited to serve as a guest editor to help assemble material on that year’s theme, Perennials for the Prairies. The practice continued for most issues. The books now featured a 16-page colour insert that illustrated both the theme articles and the general gardening articles. In 2012, with guest editor Rick Durand for the theme Trees, The Prairie Garden produced its first edition with colour photos throughout.
Chairs (Prairie Garden Committee)
Editors (by Edition Year)
Themes and Guest Editors
In 2020, all editions of The Prairie Garden and its predecessors were digitized in order to preserve the information from the print material, which is starting to decay, and to make this information more widely accessible and searchable for purposes of research. The Prairie Garden Committee is now pleased to offer this online digital collection of historical editions. For more recent editions that are still available for purchase, please visit https://www.theprairiegarden.com.
The Prairie Garden Committee acknowledges with gratitude the support of Manitoba Sport, Culture, and Heritage in the form of a Heritage Grant to assist with the digitization of our past editions.
Page revised: 7 November 2021