Gwynne Vaughan Plant Sale & Garden Party

By Mike Archer. My wife Caroline and I were lucky enough to enjoy one of the rites of spring in the eastern Fraser Valley this weekend.

On Saturday we spent a couple of hours at the Annual Plant Sale & Garden Party at Gwynne Vaughan Community Park in Chilliwack.

The annual festivities have become a magnet for hundreds and hundreds of gardeners throughout the Fraser Valley and the parking alone can be one of the more entertaining aspects of the day.

Cheerful volunteers make it as easy and safe as possible but watching some of those less experienced with grass field parking can be humourous if not downright nerve racking.

The soft jazz playing in the round, never intrusive, but always present, adds to the main aspect I enjoyed about the day – the ability to relax and meet some truly interesting people.

[From Gwynne Vaughn Park Society]

Gwynne Vaughn Park

In 1993 Mrs. Adelaide (Gwynnie) Bateman bequeathed her family home and 6.8 acres to the City of Chilliwack to be used as a community park. With City Councillor Doug Steinson leading a groundswell of support from Chilliwack residents, the City accepted this gift.

gwynne vaughn 3The Gwynne Vaughan Park Society was formed in 1995, and agreed to work together with the City to not only preserve, but also improve the house and grounds. Chilliwack’s most unique and beautiful park was born.

The The 1896 house, which was built for Alfred Driscoll, was sold to Chilliwack City Council member, D.E. Gwynne Vaughan in 1902. The charming Edwardian house has been restored and maintained to a high standard. Although the interior has been modernized, the exterior looks much the same as it as for the last century. It is currently occupied by tenants and not open to the public.

The heritage orchard, which still produces an abundance of fruit, is pruned and maintained by professional arborists, in order to prolong the life of these very old trees.

Many Chilliwack residents have given generous donations to the Park for memorial benches, trees, equipment, paving stones and plants. The City of Chilliwack, as well as businesses, community groups and individuals continue to support the Park with funds and personal effort.

From the huge selection of herbs by the front entrance to some of the most adorable ornaments and crafts, the booths and exhibits were filled with everything from flowering plants, to vegetables; from chiropractic help to greeting cards and wall hangings.

The artisans from all over the Fraser Valley provided just the right combination of art, jewelry and paintings to provide some depth and variety to the day. I was particularly fascinated by the wire art and stained glass work of Anne Pradine and some of the light sculptures by Sylvie Roussel-Janssens of Chilliwack.

[From Gwynne Vaughn Park Society]

Adelaide Gwynne Vaughan
1907 – 1993

…was born to Welsh parents in 1902, and lived almost all of her life in the house the Gwynne Vaughan Park Society is preserving today.

gwynne vaughn2“Gwynnie”, as she was affectionately called, was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener, and most of the heritage and specimen trees were planted either by her, or under her direction. An active member of the Chilliwack Horticultural Society (now the Chilliwack Garden Club), she established a trophy for the best narcissus in its annual Spring Show, which is still awarded in her name.

Gwynnie enjoyed a good game of bridge with close friends, and was an expert badminton player.
After marrying in the early 1950s, Sam and Gwynnie Bateman resided in Saskatchewan for a few years. The Batemans then returned to Chilliwack, where they lived in her old home, enjoying their garden and a wide circle of friends.

Ultimately though, the day was taken up with the main purpose of the show and sale … the wide selection of water plants, Japanese maples, specialty herbs and vegetables, unusual perennials and shrubs, Siberian irises and more.

We came away with a trunk full of plants and herbs and our heads and hearts filled with just enough sounds, smells and tastes to remind us how much we’ll want to go again next year.

All photos from Gwynne Vaughn Park Society

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