Maintaining Excellence

One of the peculiarities of the current layout of Edwards Gardens is that its maintenance or service yard is located by the barn in the entrance area to the park. Maintenance activities that should ideally be carried out behind the scenes are performed in front of the garden visitors walking by. Visitors also encounter moving vehicles in the barn area and this, despite the great care taken by parks staff, is becoming a safety issue that we are addressing in the Master Plan for an expanded botanical garden: the maintenance yard will be moving.

Some of you will remember the old Metro Parks days when Edwards Gardens had two maintenance yards—one by the barn and the Civic Garden Centre building; the other, on the opposite side of the ravine close to the Teaching Garden. There were two foremen then—Joe Hirschberg, working out of the barn area, with Niles Balin running the nursery on the other side. Over time, the nursery operation faded away, with consolidation of operations in the barn area.

I remember the rivalry between these two foremen—both of them old school, of a type seldom encountered these days. Rivalry often produces excellence, and I give them great credit for maintaining the high standards originally established by Rupert Edwards’s gardener, Carl Zarins. I like to think that we have an unbroken line of excellence, from the days when the park was still in Mr. Edwards’s hands and known as Springbrook, today.

You will see from the Final Concept Diagram of the Master Plan that the new maintenance yard is moving back to the nursery area where it once resided. Nursery functions, including a production greenhouse, will take place there again. Maintenance vehicles will enter the botanical garden from the Bridle Path gate, thereby greatly reducing the chances of visitor and vehicle interaction.

Meanwhile, the garden entrance will be allowed to flourish. I don’t doubt that all of them—Mr. Edwards, Carl, Joe and Niles—would approve. Excellence then, now and in the future.

– Harry Jongerden, Garden Director