for Best Perennial in Spring Show
First awarded in 2013
Jack Mullin was my father and gardening was his passion. He was one of those wise gardeners that could grow anything with great success, but nothing pleased him more than growing plants from seed. His favourite plants to start were tomatoes. People who knew him fondly called him the “tomato man.”
He loved talking about gardening almost as much as gardening itself. Dad would have enjoyed sharing his seedlings and exchanging gardening information with our View Royal Garden Club. I was happy to have the opportunity to provide a trophy for “Best Perennial” in his memory.
My father was an accountant for Eaton’s for 52 years. Maybe it was that accountant’s eye that made him so difficult to beat at a game of cribbage. He enjoyed playing bridge with his friends and operating his HAM radio.
Over the years, he transformed our backyard in Montreal into an urban garden of plenty. Anyone who has ever gardened in Eastern Canada can attest to the heat and humidity of the summers there. His tomatoes grew to record sizes in that climate. The abundant fruits and vegetables produced were canned, frozen and preserved. Dad also enjoyed growing many perennials and annuals.
Moving to Victoria and downsizing to a condo in Cook Street Village did not stop Dad from gardening. He grew flowers and vegetables in containers. He glassed in the majority of their ground floor patio and grew tomatoes in five-gallon pails.
A local newspaper in 1990, The Victoria Star, featured an article about his gardening and recycling. He explained how he would roll sheets of newspaper and cut them into tubes four inches in length to fill with soil to start seeds. As the plants grew, he would transplant them into yogurt containers or milk cartons cut in half. He also would cut the tops off jug-type containers to make plant pots. He then kept a few tops, using one with the cap left on as a scoop. Another, without a cap, he used as a funnel. His planters and pots expanded out and around the patio.
As he transitioned from walking with a cane to using a walker, fertilizing and watering his plants became a challenge. I started to help him with the transplants and the watering and fertilizing. I knew I had done a task correctly when he would nod and say, “That’s the stuff.”
We spent many Sunday afternoons together sitting in the sunroom surrounded by the variety of plants he loved to grow. We spent countless hours together reading gardening magazines and discussing the choices of which new plants to grow from the seed catalogues. Sometimes we chatted and sometimes we just shared the quiet peace of sitting together surrounded by the bounty and the beauty of his condo garden.
There is something special about seeing one of his roses bloom in my garden now. Each one of his plants brings memories with every new bloom. Some were Father’s Day gifts, some birthday gifts and some just for the love of gardening.
I aspire some year to grow and enter a perennial worthy of winning the Jack Mullin Memorial Trophy. Until then, congratulations to past and future winners. Along with the applause at our show, I can imagine Dad giving his nod of approval and saying, “That’s the stuff.”
Submitted by Jan Dew
Mini-Show Coordinator 2015 through 2022
Vice President 2012
Sales Table Coordinator 2011
updated Jan.21, 2022