Landscaping the Home Grounds: Advice from W.D. Albright, Part 2

Image: Ryder’s Seedling dahlia of Coltness Gem type, grown at Beaverlodge and proving extraordinarily floriferous. Photographed August 29, 1936 by W. D. Albright. (SPRA 362.02.08.153)

William Donald (W.D.) Albright arrived in Beaverlodge in 1913 and filed on homestead with his wife and children. Albright established the Beaverlodge Dominion Experimental Sub-station in 1917 and committed decades to researching the suitability of crops in the area. He frequently toured the Peace River country, promoting his research through public lectures and social visits. On 9 August 1935, Albright addressed the Grande Prairie District Women’s Institute Convention with a lecture titled: Landscaping the Home Grounds.

Preserve Vistas

If there is a good view to be had from the home by all means preserve it. Cosiness and shelter are extremely desirable but so is vista. Usually the two can be combined, though most easily if the choice view is not in the direction of the prevailing winds….

Utilize Native Species

Time and experience emphasize the wisdom of relying heavily upon the native species, which are native because they have resisted the climatic vicissitudes, the diseases and insects to which our region is heir. What they have endured in the wild they will endure still better in most cases when properly planted and cared for. Use them as the main reliance and add variety by working in the exotic or introduced species in positions where they will not spoil the general effect if they fail. A very fine home may be had in the North by employing the natives alone. The fragrant, leafy balm of Gilead, the spiral white spruce, the lodge pole pine, the tremulous white poplar, the frond-leafed tamarack, the fruitful Saskatoon, the chokecherry, pin cherry, snowberry, wild honeysuckle, the native mountain ash, the Pembina and other suitable kinds are noted in mimeographs of adapted perennials to be had free for the asking…

How to Get the Men Interested

And now we come to the greatest problem of all – how to get Friend Husband interested; for without his co-operation landscaping is uphill work for a housewife. Here let me whisper a few secrets not to be told out of meeting.

First of all take an interest in his work. Husband and wife are supposed to draw in double harness. Too often the one hangs back in the breeching while the other pulls on the tugs… The wife concerns herself with the children, the garden and the household, leaving the stock and the field problems to her husband. So their interests grow apart and co-operation becomes more difficult to enlist….

Get him, too, to visit attractive homes. Even get him to visit the Experimental Station but do not tell him I said this or the recipe may lack some of its effect. It won’t lose all… Let us hope for the best.

Albright’s full lecture, and others (Fonds 362.01) are available for consultation in the Archives reading room. Special thanks to volunteer Gail Prette for her transcription of this lecture.

This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Telling Our Stories.

Spruce ready to be lowered into new hole. Photographed by W. D. Albright, 1941. (SPRA 362.02.08.153)

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