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Why Grow Here

Essays on Edmonton's Gardening History

Kathryn Chase Merrett

Canadian Studies, Food

Published: July 2015
ISBN: 9781772120486
Pages: 344 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 40

"A visitor from down south stared at my apple tree
and said: ‘Those don’t grow here you know. It’s too cold.’
If the apricot tree in Highlands knew it couldn’t live here,
it might stop scattering white blossoms over three lawns." – Bert Almon

Edmonton has a rich and diverse horticultural history. Vacant lot gardeners, rose gardeners, and horticultural societies have all contributed to the beautification of the capital city of Alberta, and through the enthusiasm of florists, seedsmen, and plant breeders the city has developed a distinct horticultural character. In this collection of nine essays, each with a different theme, Kathryn Chase Merrett depicts the development of Edmonton’s social, cultural, and physical landscape as it has been shaped by champions of both nature and the garden. Edmontonians and all urbanites interested in gardening and local history, as well as professors and students of history, cultural studies, and urban design, will delight in the colourful storytelling of Why Grow Here.

Kathryn Chase Merrett obtained her Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Alberta in 1992. She researches and writes about Edmonton, and volunteers her time in the interests of horticulture and history.

For most Edmontonians and those with an interest in gardening, this book is a must.

– Alberta History

…well-written, meticulously researched stand-alone essays that illustrate the long history of what [Kathryn Chase Merrett] calls horticultural optimism in Edmonton, Alberta, on the Great Plains’ northern edge. She interweaves major horticultural activities and the people who made Edmonton a garden city… Merrett traces a common North American horticultural story: a new settlement concentrates on survival and subsistence first, then slowly on beautification…. What makes Edmonton’s story a bit different? I think it is the passionate plant breeders (almost a who’s who of northern hybridists) who made it their life’s mission to create hardy roses to make Edmonton the 'city of roses.'

– Edwinna von Baeyer, Great Plains Research