Hope, help and memories bloom in Grafton gladiola garden

Nancy Kelly
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For 11 seasons, Marg’s Glad Garden on Brooklyn Street in Grafton has been a labour of love for Murray Salsman, founder of the Margaret Salsman Cancer Memorial Fund.

Salsman established the garden and fund in memory of his late wife, Margaret, who passed away from cancer.

“Did I ever think it would get this big? No way, but right from the start it has exceeded my expectations” said Salsman on a recent tour of the extensive garden, which this year has between 7,000 and 8,000 gladioli bulbs bursting into colourful blooms throughout the month of August.

Salsman estimates in the past 11 years the garden fund has generated close to $120,000 for cancer patients living in Kings, Annapolis and Digby counties.

Funds raised through freewill offerings for glad bouquets provide assistance to cancer patients for drugs, food supplements, transportation and other daily needs of life.

Funds are also raised through business donations and through the memorial garden project, built in the shape of a breast cancer ribbon. The garden currently has 60 heart-shaped signs bearing the names of people who have died from cancer.

The garden took a hit during post tropical storm Arthur when the plants were about a foot in height. But the glads bounced back and Salsman has been “really pleased with how good they are this year,” adding the height and wide array of colours of the flower variety that was his late wife’s favorite, including the garden’s trademark yellow and red glad of hope, have been impressive.

“This year we have all the colours of the rainbow,” including a chocolate-coloured glad, said Salsman, who is now remarried to Dorothy.

He says the first view of the garden in the morning from a second story window in his home brings the pair “such great pleasure.”

Despite the fact that the they “aren’t getting any younger”, the Salsmans have no plans to wrap up the fund and the garden any time soon. With the assistance they receive from local 4-H members, who help plant the garden in the spring, to their Thanksgiving weekend work crew that cuts down the garden and digs up the bulbs for storage over the winter, the pair get the support they need to keep the garden blooming year after year.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from this and Dorothy is such a big help, she supports me all the way.”

The Glad Garden, located at 5387 Brooklyn Street in Grafton, is open daily from noon to 7 p.m. until August 31.

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