Winter’s arrival and COIVID have made us slow down in different ways. Nature has always been a great healer for worries and woes, and now especially we need that rejuvenating constant that nature provides. As you know, I go out on my “tour” every day, regardless of the weather. I walk around the garden, breathing in the fresh air, and taking note of the beauty that is always there, even when the garden is dormant. There is always something lovely to behold, and even if your walk is just a few minutes, I encourage you to go out every day in your garden space and take a look around. Even the coldest, most blustery days are a cause for wonder when we think that in just a few short months, those frozen plants will be growing again and beginning a new season of life. Gives us hope for the future!
The slower pace of life now also gives us time to learn new things. I’d like to tell you about a famous Saskatchewan gardener so make a cup of tea and let’s sit down for a few minutes. If you have heard of or visited the Patterson arboretum at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, you might have wondered who the person was behind the name.
Though the U of S horticulture department is now renowned for their development of new varieties of fruits, there was a time when the horticulture department was just getting started, and that was back in 1921. Mr. Cecil Frederick Patterson (1891 – 1961) was newly arrived to the University as a lecturer, and a year later was busy organizing the new department of horticulture.
Mr. Patterson was head of the horticulture department for 39 years, and put his knowledge and passion for gardening to excellent use. Over those years, with great vision and determination, the gardening world received over 30 new varieties of hardy fruits, including apples, cherries, and raspberries. Patterson’s work also extended to lilies, and he created over 18 varieties including “Apricot Glow”, “White Princess”, and the sadly sweet “Edith Cecilia” that was named after his little girl who died when she was only 13. Remember, it takes many years and much patience to cross varieties of lilies to get the desired results, so these lilies are projects that may have taken up to twenty years to develop. They are not just beautiful but hardy for the prairies: a testament to the skill and knowledge of Mr. Patterson. Developing plants that would not just survive but thrive on the prairies was a very important goal to Mr. Patterson. Back in the day, he had a huge experimental nursery that was said to be the largest in the world. Not only that, the nursery did not have the luxury of irrigation, likely to reflect his thinking that the plants just had to be adaptable to the gardening conditions of regular home gardeners.
Mr. Patterson wrote pamphlets on many topics that went beyond fruit trees, such as the best way to construct shelter belts, and the best trees to use in such a project. Though he was born in Ontario, and studied for a time in the US, he made Saskatchewan his home for most of his life, and died too young in 1961 just a year after he retired. But what an amazing gardening legacy he left behind! Truly inspiring! There are many great gardening stories to learn about: let’s make that our winter project!
There are no Yorkton and District Horticultural Society meetings scheduled yet, but visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca to keep up with what’s happening!
Thank you to our friends at Yorkton This Week for their great work. Let’s continue to pray for health and safety for all and brighter times ahead. Have a great week!