Feature Story

Garnet, gold, and green

Trish Fry (’86) helps sow the seeds behind the award-winning Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
By: Kayla Blanchard

Computer science graduate Trish Fry has been involved with the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens since its opening in 1981.

The world-class garden is a 17-acre horticultural paradise located in historic Annapolis Royal, NS, the first permanent European settlement in North America (1605). Historically-themed areas tell the story of Nova Scotia settlement from an agricultural and horticultural perspective, showcasing gardening methods, designs, and materials representing more than 400 years of local history.

Fry’s involvement with the Historic Gardens started in August 1981, when she performed with her high school band for the opening ceremonies. The following year she was employed as a summer student and has been dedicated to the site ever since.

Beginning as a summer student employee, Fry helped with tasks such as mowing lawns and gardening to help maintain the Historic Gardens. She continued this work summer after summer as she completed her undergraduate degree, working in visitor services and taking on supervision of other students. Following graduation, Fry returned to work at the Historic Gardens full-time, not only because she had a position ready for her but because a piece of her heart also lived within the landmark, as it stands in her own hometown.

Since 1987, Fry has served as manager of the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens Society, a not-for-profit charitable organization, which owns and operates the Gardens in the public interest. In her role, she is responsible for the overall administration, from finance and fund raising to marketing and special events. She is also the photographer behind many of the stellar images capturing the Gardens’ beauty in all seasons.

Through the hard work of a very dedicated team of staff and volunteers, the site has grown over the years, becoming one of the most beautiful landmarks in Canada, one which many people have travelled across international borders to see. In 2015, the Gardens received the very prestigious award of “Garden of the Year” from the Canadian Garden Tourism Awards.

Fry attributes much of this success to the hard-working garden crew, led by a horticultural manager.

“We have an amazing staff — their hearts are truly in the Gardens and our visitors can feel that in every corner. They have created and maintained a perfect setting for the visitor experience and special events. Without them, we would have nothing,” she says.

The Gardens have also been featured by the Canadian Tourism Commission (March 2014) in “10 things you need to know about…Canada’s great garden gems” and the Ottawa Citizen (April 2014) in “Five gardens to delight the tourist in all of us”. Today’s Parent (April 2014) named the Gardens among the best in Canada for families in “Best Botanical Gardens in Canada.” The site was also featured in the national 2015 Home Hardware Charity Calendar (November 2014).

It goes without saying that the Historic Gardens have made an incredible impact on the community of Annapolis Royal. When speaking with another Mount Allison alumnus, Alex Morrison (’68), who has been a long-time member and supporter of the Gardens, he insisted this success has been in part because of all the hard-work and dedication Trish Fry has put in.

“Trish Fry is a human dynamo. She not only manages the Gardens but she participates. If there is an event and they need someone to take tickets or if there is a cocktail party in the evening and they need somebody to show the way, Trish is always there. In my eyes, and the eyes of many others, the success of the Gardens is due to her determination,” he says.

To find out more about the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and about upcoming events, visit www.historicgardens.com