Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nature Gem in my Backyard ~ Part 3

Scotty Gave our Rock Garden His Life
Paul Wilson (Journalist with The Hamilton Spectator)
wrote the following article in today's Spec.
(excerpts only)

They're running a contest at the Royal Botanical Gardens that's linked to the $20-million rebirth of the Rock Garden, which was really the beginning of the RBG more than 80 years ago. 

Margaret Long, now 84, stated that her father, David Graham Brunton who grew up in a Scottish coastal town, earned no degree in horticulture, but came to know every flower and shrub.  Scotty sailed  to Canada in 1926 and soon got on with the Hamilton Parks Board. He saved his money and within three years was able to send a diamond ring and a one-way first-class boat ticked to Anne Campbell, his girlfriend back home.  She landed on his birthday.  Five days later they married.  So 1929 ~ the year of the great stock market crash ~ was turning out to be a banner year for Scotty.

It got better yet on November 13 of that year, when they placed the first stone for the new Rock Garden.
The project was the idea of T.B. McQuesten, a visionary Hamilton politician.  He thought the old gravel pit at the city's western entrance did not make a good first impression.  A world-class garden would.  And Scotty was made foreman of the project. 

In the spring of 1930, Scotty got to work in earnest.  He kept a journal of each day's activities.  From June 16, 1930 he wrote:  Planting geraniums in rockery...finished carpet beds on east side...laying water pipe on top of on water wagon (team of horses, that is)...trucks hauling stone from the escarpment.  Scotty had pencil sketches in his journal too, plans for displays in the garden which looked like stained windows.

Margaret remembers her father sitting at the table in his house beside Cootes Paradise (a 2-storey brick home that came with his job where the 403 highway now exists) and doing those sketches.  She remembers walking over to the Rock Garden with brother Bill to see Dad at work.  Sometimes, he would hand them a trowel and watch them plant while he sipped his tea. She also recalls watching her Dad and his men put the water lilies away for the winter and covering them with straw.  Come spring, they were returned to the garden pond.  It's all described in father's journal which Margaret has kept safely in a cedar chest on the farm in Canfield (near Cayuga) in the house where she's lived for nearly 60 years, ever since marrying Joe Long.

The RBG is still trying to raise funds for the Rock Garden.  Ottawa kicked in $7 million and so has the province.  The RBG approached Hamilton late last ;year about a $1.75 million contribution.  The City is still thinking about it. You can learn more about plans for the Rock Garden and how to donate ~ at 

The old Rock Garden closed last year.  The new one opens next year.  Margaret hopes there's room somewhere for a plaque that mentions her Dad.  He was still on the job at the Rock Garden when he died of a heart attack in 1960, age 60.  “I never went back there after that,” Margaret says.  “Too many memories.”

Albert Einstein said it best:
“Look deep into  nature and then you will understand everything better.”

“Flowers have an expression of countenance so much better than man or animal.  Some seem to smile, some have a sad expression; some are perverse and diffident; others again are plain and upright like the broad-faced sunflower and hollyhock.”  (Henry Ward Beecher)

The Royal Botanical Gardens, today, is a Nature-Mecca displaying gardens, shrubs, many trees and a presentation centre to enhance our botanical knowledge and appreciation.

Plant a Tree for Tree Day…September 25, 2014
Trees play an important role in our world and we need them more than we think.

1 LARGE tree provides a day’s worth of oxygen  for 4 people
It takes 98 TREES to absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide every year..
Trees provide SHELTER and FOOD for many birds, mammals, amphibians and insects.

Kathy Renwald writes about Dahlia-Land
“These cheerful, cosmic flowers poke their heads high in the sky…some as small as ping pong balls and others as big as dinner plates at a steakhouse.  Dr. Mike Parrish states, “There is something about dahlias that guys love. Most of the members of the Hamilton & District Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society are men.”  September 20  and 21 is its 50th Anniversary Show at the RBG.  Dahlias each have  personalities and they’re packed with energy.  The speed at which they grow is spectacular.”

The “Dahlias” send you this Invitation
(and they don’t need flowery words to do so.)

Come visit Cornell, a deep maroon, ball-type
with petals placed in a mathematical precision.
Come visit Max, a showstopper
with a fringe of petals exploding from the center.
Come visit Pooh that turns its big face to the sun
 like a polar panel ready for charging.

Bring a vase or a bucket…and prepare to fall in love with us!

“Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty
outvalues all the utilities of the world.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844)

“Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom.
They just open up toward the light and that makes them beautiful.”
(Jim Carrey)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written August 5, 2014
Comments are appreciated...e-mail to:


  1. SHERRIE COMMENTS: "I love Jim Carrey's pure and loving energy and totally totally agree with his philosophy about flowers.
    Morning Glories open up every morning to a new day and close down for peace and tranquility every evening." I always enjoy your input, Sherrie.

  2. Morning Glories are beauteous in that each morning it is with a new bloom that fills us with joy; so it should be with us...each day, a new day to accomplish something enjoyable for others and for ourselves. For years I planted these climbing vines in garden patios...whether blues, pinks, whites or lavenders, to see their smiling faces which daily inspired me.