COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Murray Graham, president of the Daly House museum board, chats with a woman attending the museum’s official opening of its Victorian Garden on Sunday.
It’s been seven years in the making, but on Sunday the Victorian Garden, adjacent to the Daly House Museum, officially celebrated its grand opening.
A patron walks along a path during Daly House Museum’s official opening of its Victorian Garden on Sunday afternoon.
(COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
"It was a dream of mine," said past museum president Donna Henderson, who came up with the idea of turning a vacant lot beside the museum into a Victorian era garden.
The idea, she said, was inspired by her grandmother, who grew up in the Victorian era in England and always raved about the beautiful garden outside of her large brick home.
"It’s a natural fit for people to go through the garden and then wander into the house," Henderson said. "Daly House is such a special place and it’s been a badly kept secret for a long time."
The garden, which is nestled under a canopy of outward stretching elm trees and comes complete with an artistic water feature, gazebo, and thousands of flowers and plants, is the work of tireless volunteers who donated time, money, and affection to ensure the majestic setting became a reality.
"Everyone knew someone that could help out and it became a total community project," Henderson said. "I also believe this project has made the community so much more aware of us. It is an oasis in a busy part of the city."
Current museum president Murray Graham admitted he wasn’t much of green thumb when he first inherited the project, but said the garden has won him over.
"Now we have the setting for the jewel of the museum and our foot traffic to the museum is up," Graham said.
The group started keeping track of volunteer hours contributed to the project about two years ago, Graham said more than 1,500 hours of volunteer labour have been recorded — a testament to the support the project received.
"From key chains to Kubotas, we’ve gotten tremendous support from the community," Graham said. "Every year we hope to add things and for it to continue to grow as a project."
Recently, a young boy biking home stopped in the garden to take a rest on one of the four benches that have been recycled from historic chairs that were saved from the Brandon City Hall before it was destroyed. Graham said it’s those little things that make all of the hard work worth it.
"That’s a little guy that is going to feel some ownership of this place," Graham said. "And I bet he will never show up with a can of spray paint."
Graham estimates the garden cost to be around $100,000 with another $100,000 being donated in volunteer time.
Roberta Baskier, who was president of the museum when Henderson first dreamed of a garden, even wrangled her son, who lives in Vancouver and is a landscape architect, into coming up with the initial drawings of the garden.
"He came for a visit and the next thing he was out there with his tape measure, measuring the trees and taking notes," Baskier said.
The garden is sure to be a popular attraction moving forward and as soon as next summer will host its first wedding ceremony.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 17, 2012