Shelf life.

Everything has a shelf life… a best before date. Nothing lasts forever (except for the indestructible items we throw in the dump, which last too long).
This year many of the hard features of the Gardens are undergoing restoration or repair. Some are over a century old, and others… well they remind us that ‘they don’t make them like they used to’. Whether it’s due to wear and tear, aging or wanton destruction, there comes a time after waiting and seeing, that you have to make the decision. Do you restore or replace? This is true of most things: hard features and plant species.

Presently at the Gardens many of the features are deemed worthy of restoring. As the summer moves on the results of these restorations are being unveiled, giving us many more years to enjoy these enduring features.

Swan fountain is back at the Halifax Public GardensAfter being out of commission most of the summer, the fountain at Horticultural Hall Plaza is burbling once again. It’s been a tough year for water features at the Gardens. Three of the four fountains were under repair/restoration this summer.

Gardener's Lodge at the Halifax Public GardensThe Gardener’s Lodge which once served as a residence to the Superintendents of the Gardens is also getting a face lift. Built in 1902 in the Queen Anne architectural style, it housed two generations of Powers (the first Superintendent, and his oldest son who took over from him).

Victoria Jubilee Fountain under restoration at the Halifax Public Gardens

The jewel in the restoration crown will be the unveiling of the Victoria Jubilee Fountain to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee year. It will be a grand celebration though Her Majesty will be unable to attend the event. Stay tuned for the details.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum (weeping katsura tree) at the Halifax Public Gardens

In this case it was time to replace. Reforestation is a wonderful gift to the future. As trees reach their natural life span, replacements must be planted for future generations to enjoy.

Hanging baskets at the Halifax Public GardensRestore. Annuals get spent living in tight quarters, with frugal water, and fierce competition for nutrients. To rejuvenate a tired hanging basket, cut it back, fertilize it and if you do it at the right time (mid summer), your baskets will flourish again. Unfortunately, this is a practice for a private gardener. A public garden doesn’t have the manpower to put energy into this kind of restoration.

Burnt tree at the Halifax Public Gardens

Wait and see. When a tree (or building) has a huge impact in its space,  take some time to see what’s best overall. It it lives…. fabulous. If it fails and becomes unsafe… time to take it down.

Children watching the ducks at the Halifax Public GardensIn the end, preserving what we value for future enjoyment, drives the decisions we make. The Public Gardens have been lucky to have custodians who looked to the future, and who valued what they had. Investing in the future isn’t clear-cut, but it’s seldom a waste of energy and resources.

Hibiscus and Coleus at the Halifax Public GardensI had to throw in a pretty photo. À bientôt!

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