Volunteers at Kilby are hoping to turn an overgrown jungle into a new attraction for the historic site: the Eliza Kilby Rose Garden.
“It’s a farm property, so we’re not going to make it super fussy, not really high Victorian,” volunteer Lorraine Weldrick explained. But, “rose gardens have been around for eons so (it will be) something that sort of gives people a feeling of stepping into the past, which they definitely do when the come to the site.”
Weldrick is a member of the garden committee at Kilby, a group of seven volunteers who come together to weed, prune, mow and water the gardens around the Harrison Mills heritage property.
It takes a lot of time to manage the plant life around the historic site — the volunteers come together each Thursday for “work bees” — and some areas take more effort than most. One of these was the garden in behind the restaurant.
|An artist paints the flowers in what volunteers hope will become the Eliza Kilby Rose Garden during the fifth annual Plein Air Festival in August. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
“It had so much potential,” Weldrick said about the garden, which is filled with annuals, a few shrubs, some perennials and a good portion of blackberries.
“When you sit in the restaurant and you look out the windows, and you see this lovely little enclosed courtyard — it just looked like it was crying for some love.”
That’s how the garden committee came up with a plan for the Eliza Kilby Rose Garden.
Named after general store owner Thomas Kilby’s English wife, the garden will feature a number of rose plants that will bloom throughout the summer, as well as a few tall perennials and a smattering of seasonal annuals. The interior of the courtyard will be seeded with grass, and vintage patio tables and chairs will create a quiet atmosphere.
“We want to make it pretty, and easy maintenance as well,” Weldrick said.
Right now, the garden committee is busy preparing the gardens for the winter ahead, so they can get to work planting, replanting and tending when the spring comes. (The plan is to have the rose garden ready for a grand opening around Easter next year.)
The volunteers also busy preparing for a fundraiser that will help the historic site with the two most expensive parts of the Eliza Kilby Rose Garden project: building a ramp for access into the restaurant and purchasing the rose plants.
On Saturday, Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m., the Sasquatch Inn will be hosting a fundraiser for the rose garden project. Tickets to the fundraiser at $20, and will provide attendees with a burger and their choice of drink, as well as the opportunity to participate in raffles, a 50/50 draw and a silent auction.
(Tickets are available through the Kilby Historic Site by calling 604-796-9576.)
“This entire project is based on whatever we can raise and volunteers,” Weldrick said. “Some things may have to be done in stages if we can’t hit our goals, but we’re working at it.”
“We love it, and we’re putting our hearts and souls into it,” she added. “And our backs. And our garden gloves.”