What’s growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – Giving
By Melanie Priesnitz Conservation Horticulturist
Volunteers have been generously giving their time to the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens since the day we opened. Over the years our volunteers have ranged in age and background and have performed a wide array of duties, including leading public tours, collecting phenology data, gluing and scanning herbarium specimens, seed sorting and cleaning, and caring for and propagating plants in the greenhouse and garden.
Some of our youngest volunteers came to us from Fairfield School many years ago; the kids joined us weekly in the autumn and had fun learning about the Acadian forest while gardening and jumping in leaf piles! Our longest standing volunteer is the wonderful Jean Timpa. She has worked in the herbarium one or two days a week for the past twenty years. Jean has a great artistic flare for preparing and gluing plant specimens and continues to make a tremendous contribution.
A group of our volunteers are so dedicated that 9 years ago they formed a separate society to help support the botanical garden and native plant conservation in general. The Friends of the Acadian Forest Society is engaged in a long-term education, research, and plant propagation project that benefits not only the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, but also the wider community of environmentally-aware gardeners and native plant enthusiasts. This year the group gave back to the Acadia campus in an additional way by weeding and mulching the garden outside of the Festival Theatre. They saw that it needed some taming so they put their trowels to the earth and cleaned it up!
For the past several years students from both Horton High and Acadia have helped us in our Seed Bank. Seed Bank Intern April Muirhead greatly appreciates all of the time given and says she wouldn’t be able to perform her job as effectively without the support of volunteers. She admitted that some of the cleaning, sorting, and separating of seed is time-consuming and would be tedious without the cheerful company and assistance of others. Our Propagation Specialist Robin Browne has travelled abroad to collaborate with researchers in other seed banks and commented that “Botanic gardens and seed banks around the world rely heavily on the contributions of volunteers and we are no exception. I consider the volunteer support provided by the many Acadia University students and Friends of the Acadian Forest members to be an essential part of our efforts to conserve native plant species in this region.”
During this season of giving, we want to honour and thank all of the many individuals who give their time and expertise so generously to us. To see just how giving and talented our volunteers are, stop by the lobby of the Centre this holiday season to see our Christmas tree. All of the ornaments were lovingly handmade from dried, wild plants by our Friends Society members. We are grateful for the continued support to our entire team of volunteers. The Centre and Gardens are open daily throughout the holiday season (even on Christmas day) so stop by and visit us.
Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens