Grafton horticulturalists receive special honour

By Cecilia Nasmith

A new tree stands on the grounds of Haldimand Court in Grafton, following a planting last Friday by the Grafton Horticultural Society.

The tulip tree honours late members Doug Johnston and Mary Harnden, whose contributions – both to the club and to the seniors' facility on which the tree was planted – were remembered at the brief ceremony.

The Harnden and Johnston families account for a long line of outstanding service in the life of the community. The two families also united to some extent when Doug Johnston married Shirley Harnden.

Both Johnston and Mary Harnden also had a long-standing involvement with Haldimand Court, one point of which is the fact that it stands on property donated by Hazel Harnden.

Harnden sisters Brenda Keller and Ann Raymond recounted that Hazel and her husband Floyd had owned the villages's Co-op store. It burned down, and they rebuilt it where it currently stands on County Road 2 on what was the south end of their own property. They lived upstairs over the store for a while, then built a bungalow at the north end of the property – accessed through a driveway that ran out the north end of the Co-op parking lot.

Harnden and Johnston also enjoyed a long-time membership in the horticultural club. President Olivia Ward provided some background on both of these valued members.

Harnden was awarded a 25-year service pin from District 4 of the Ontario Horticultural Association, as well as a life membership from the Grafton club in 2000.

Johnston also received an OHA 25-year service pin and, in 2001, the provincial club's Silver Fir Award - the highest award it gives for outstanding long service to horticultural societies and/or the OHA. In 1989, he received a service certificate for 10 or more years of active involvement in the Grafton club. He received their life-membership honour in 1998.

Members selected a tulip tree to honour them.

“It's a beautiful tree, and grows quite quickly,” commented Marg Benns – who, with fellow member Gail Hoskin, tends to the flowers at Haldimand Court.

“And it's native to the area.”

Club president Olivia Ward received a 20-ft. one as a retirement gift. Seven years later, she said, it towers high.

Michelle Busse noted that it used to be considered a good source of furniture wood. Her husband Ralf said it's still prized for the interior planking on sailboats. A good effect is achieved by alternating the white tulip-tree wood with teak for a striped look.

Now that the tree is planted, a plaque will be arranged for and installed.