After the opening of the Montebello building we tidied up and started on a list of projects that had been put on hold.

One project was a request for a memorial tree at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. It’s no secret we have a special program at the Village where people can purchase something to plant from a designated list of shrubs, plants, or trees in memory of a person, event, or thing. The program allows people to sponsor a living thing in designated spots, adding to the green space for all to enjoy.

The original plan and plant list was drawn by Landscape Architect Patricia Reith in 1993. Patricia created a plan for the gardens around Haney House. They were to be heritage gardens with period-appropriate plants that mom and pop Haney might have grown. Haney staff and contractors installed two lovely limestone paths edged with recycled brick. 

When it was time to develop a public garden behind the current museum, we looked at the list. It was limited and the public space became a place to grow some of our gardeners’ and President Norma Harisch’s favourite plants. There wasn’t room for a lot of trees though.

Eventually, as the site developed, we wanted to buffer the Salmon Valley homesteader’s cabin from the busyness of our emerging town site. What to grow? Ornamental trees, as if extending the public garden, or natural trees, that were here before farmers cleared their fields?

I consulted the list. I had three choices of ornamental trees, all historic. Russian Olive, Japanese crab apple, and paper birch. Russian olive was out because it is now considered an invasive species. It can be found all along the rivers and valleys. Haney’s gardener Norm Klassen said the Japanese crab apple was showy in the spring, but not afterwards so wasn’t ideal. He mentioned a lovely white lilac.

I looked at Norm’s “nursery” along the power lines and considered native trees, for Haney-grown options.

The larch trees looked a little Charlie Brownish. I knew they’d lose their needles, but that didn’t bother me. After all the Haney property sits at Larch Hill Corner, once a small community with its own school and store. Only old timers know that name for the “district,” but could I sell this type of tree?

Norm’s nursery of other species of trees seemed a little unruly and he couldn’t guarantee their root balls. He’d been too busy to take care of them for the last couple of years and he wasn’t sure they’d survive a move.

Norm and I decided on either a Japanese crab apple or lilac bush, both old varieties. Then we consulted the boss, Norma Harisch. Norma told us about having to maintain her family crab apple. The Japanese crab apple required SIR compliance, so was ruled out by our President, a third generation Salmon Arm fruit farmer. Norma didn’t like the idea of a lilac at the back of the church property. That was logical. It would have been at the front of the church yard.

So I went back to the archival “drawing board.” I consulted the Salmon Arm Observer index for a business that might have sold ornamental trees in 1907. There wasn’t a local business but I did find an ad for the Coldstream Estate Ltd. nursery for apple and ornamental trees. I didn’t waste any time and called Barbara Bell, the Senior Archivist at the Vernon Museum. I knew my geography.

“Could you look at your newspaper index and tell me if there are any display ads of the stock sold by the Coldstream Estate? I need to draw up a list of ornamental trees for my site, " I asked Vernon's head archivist.

Barbara said she’d look. When she got back to me she had a wonderful resource….a scanned brochure of stock that the nursery sold in 1913. The list is something Norm, Norma and I can consult for years!

So what was chosen for a buffer? After much discussion, it was decided the buffer should be natural. That meant Douglas fir, larch, pine, or cedar. After asking Norm where I could purchase that kind of tree, I visited the local nursery.

A perfect cedar was purchased - one that would grow about eight feet wide and look in place at the Village. Norm and Norma are happy and I’ve had the pleasure of doing a bit of good research that will serve the Village gardeners for the next couple of decades. The choices we make in the future will be period-appropriate for the site, tempered by good environmental stewardship, and not based on personal favorites.

This job is too much fun!

Notes on the photos: top to bottom
1.  Mt. Ida Methodist Church is needing a buffer from the homestead cabin behind it.
2. The Public Gardens at the Village
3. Lynne Hebert, a former gardener at Haney, chose cedars as a backdrop to her wedding shot.
4. For a sneak peak at the ornamental trees, shrubs, creepers & climbers, perennials and roses available from Vernon's Coldstream Estate Ltd. in 1913, click here.  
    Thank you Barbara Bell and Greater Vernon Museum and Archives.