Community Leader: Gwen Steele

Capital News gardening columnist earns top honour in the Community Leader Award environmental volunteer category.

  • Nov. 21, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Gwen Steele

If you’re at all familiar with Gwen Steele’s background, it’s easy to understand why the Kelowna horticulturalist is so passionate about her life’s work.

As far back as she can remember, Gwen has had a profound connection with nature.

“My parents and grandparents were avid gardeners, and the outdoors were always an integral part of my life,” says Gwen, who was born and raised in Kelowna.

“We would go on picnics, and just be out in nature enjoying the flowers and plants. It’s been part of me for so long, it’s hard to imagine others not being able to appreciate it, too.”

So it seemed like a natural fit when Gwen first embraced the concept of xeriscape gardening in 1992.

Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates water use, without sacrificing a garden’s beauty.

Since establishing the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Assocation in 2009, Gwen has served as its executive director and has continued to provide advice on environmentally-friendly gardening methods and sound water conservation practises.

In short, Gwen cares deeply about our environment.

“I’m passionate about saving the environment in any way I can,” she says. “I can connect people with nature through successful gardening, and it helps them realize the importance of preserving nature.

“It’s nice to be able to get what I’ve learned out to the wider community, and help people figure out how to make their dreams happen.”

Kelowna’s Rosemary Botner counts herself among the many in the community who Gwen has helped realize their gardening dreams.

“In (Gwen’s) quiet, unassuming way she guides and encourages gardeners, businesses, public works, everybody to think before planting in order to preserve our most valuable resource—water,” says Botner.

To learn more about Gwen Steele’s work and the xeriscaping method, go to

Just Posted

Kelowna and Lake Country popular stories from the week

The Capital News and Calendar highlight popular stories every Saturday afternoon

Cook kicks off byelection campaign in West Kelowna

The campaign office will be open seven days a week in the Westbank Shopping Centre

Kelowna students complete D.A.R.E. program

Students at Heritage Christian School received their certificates Friday

Dual-credit film program approved for Central Okanagan students

The Central Okanagan Public Schools is developing a program with the Vancouver Film School

Kelowna youth wellness centre receives $10,000 donation

The Foundry received a cheque from the Rotary Club of Kelowna Sunrise Friday

Disappointing turnout for Kelowna women’s march

The Kelowna Women’s March on Washington was held Saturday, Jan. 20

Rockets take down Royals

Kole Lind has four points and Jack Cowell scores twice as Rockets rebound from 7-2 loss at Seattle

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Most Read