Greenhouse manager's legacy lives on through scholarship

 

      

Ken Girard, manager of the Biological Sciences greenhouse for 20 years, had
a passion for gardening that was legendary among Calgary horticulturalists.

“Why garden? Why eat, breathe, sleep?” These were Ken Girard’s words to live by.

Girard’s passion for gardening carried him through 20 years as the Biological Sciences greenhouse manager at the University of Calgary and as a committed member of the Calgary Horticultural Society.

Through his volunteer and professional work, Girard embodied the society’s mission of encouraging gardening for the enhancement of our environment and quality of life, with a mandate to educate, promote and support gardening in the Calgary area.

He was a life member of the society, which is the highest honour awarded. He was also a president, judge, author, keynote speaker and garden tour commentator. Giving of his time and knowledge was second nature to Girard, and as important as his passion for gardening.

When Girard passed away in Dec. 2006, the loss was felt by many.

But even through his passing, he continued to give. Girard had left specific instructions for his treasured plants to go where he knew they would be appreciated—the society was to use the plants for a fundraiser.

 

Elizabeth Jolicoeur, general manager of the Calgary Horticultural Society, and Maryjo Fairweather, volunteer manager, went to work organizing the Dig & Sale. On Sept. 29, 2007, guests were invited to tour Girard’s garden and purchase plants.

Girard was a well-known plant collector and his garden was a regular stop on the member’s-only garden tour, so this was a special opportunity for many.

The event proved to be emotional and inspiring, as many people shared stories of Girard and of how much they had learned from him. His family had the opportunity to learn more about their son and brother, and how much he gave to a community that he cared about.

After only four hours of sales, Girard’s plants raised $6,800. Combined with $10,000 in donations collected between January and July, a total of $16,800 was given to the U of C to establish the Calgary Horticultural Society’s Ken Girard Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to a U of C plant biology student based on academic merit and volunteer service.

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