One last minute reminder: the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be holding their Spring Plant and Bulb Sale on Friday, May 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Parkland Mall, Yorkton. This is a great chance to get some new additions for your garden; and there will be gardeners on hand ready to tell you all about the plants that are for sale. If you are looking for a certain plant, I’d suggest that you be there right at 9:30, because the plants move quickly!
And if we run out of plants before 5 p.m., the sale is over! That’s Friday, May 23.
Recently, we were blessed to visit with two dear friends: one who lives here, and one who was visiting from Ghana. We talked about many things, including the garden at Aburi, in south Ghana. As my Great-Grammie always used to say, you never stop learning, so I thought I would do some homework about this garden and you and I could chat about it as we share a cup of tea.
The garden began as an agricultural research farm in 1891 by British residents; at that time, the farm/garden was 20 hectares. By 1902, the garden had grown to more than 40 hectares. The real purpose of the whole garden was to develop and field-test plants that would help the residents of Ghana achieve greater financial independence. Experiments were done on cocoa and rubber plants, as well as fruit trees, ornamentals, and other plants such as cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla and cotton.
The Aburi garden is in an area that is considered as rain forest, and cotton did not do well there; so an expert cotton grower, Mr. Edmund Fisher, was brought in as consultant from the United States. He suggested that the cotton be grown in an area that was more grassland in nature near the Volta river. The local people had been growing cotton for generations, but Fisher’s guidance helped to expand cotton production by distributing cotton seeds to the local chiefs, and making a central buying market on the Volta so that the cotton could be brought in easily on the river.
In July, 1900, there were over 350 species listed in the Aburi garden inventory, many which were not originally native to the region. It sounds like a beautiful place, and a testament to the longevity of gardens. You and I know that a garden, no matter how big or small, is never really “done”: there is always work to do, plants to be added or taken away, landscaping to change or adjust. Just for fun, I did some homework about where the oldest garden in the world is located. Where did you guess? The oldest garden in the world, still in its original planting site and in continuous use, is in Padua, Italy. It is called the Orto Botanico, and it was created in 1545 as a garden for research for medicinal plants. The garden is still a research garden to this day, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The oldest plant in this garden is the “Goethe palm” which was planted in 1585. The palm now resides in its very own greenhouse, which it shares with a ginkgo and a magnolia that date back to the 1800’s.
As we work in the yard this weekend, my heart will be with my beloved parents who always waited eagerly for this May long weekend as the “garden planting time” in our family. We’d work hard in our yard, but it was a “happy tired” as my sweet Mom always used to say! I can see them still, two joyful, loving gardeners, taking a break and having a cuppa coffee by our picnic table in the beautiful yard that held so many happy family times. What precious memories! I love you both forever, and miss you every day. Happy Birthday, Daddy!