The Frank & Margarete Smith Cottage Garden

The Frank & Margarete Smith Cottage Garden

The Memorial University Botanical Garden is one of the most cherished treasures of St. John’s, and of the province as a whole. It serves as a sanctuary for nature lovers, a learning laboratory for students and scholars, and a place for the community to come together to appreciate the beauty and diversity of plants from around the world.

Nestled within the Botanical Garden, the Cottage Garden is a smaller, more intimate space that has captured the hearts of visitors over the years. This garden is designed to be reminiscent of the gardens found near a country cottage. It is a space that feels personal and intimate, and that invites visitors to explore and discover its secrets.

And now, thanks to a transformational gift of $100,000, the Cottage Garden is poised to become an even more beautiful and magical place for generations to come.

The gift, made by the family of Frank and Margarete Smith, is a testament to the Smiths’ love for the Botanical Garden and their passion for horticulture. Frank and Margarete were long-time supporters of the Garden, having spent countless hours walking its paths and admiring its flora.

In recognition of this wonderful gift, the Cottage Garden will be renamed the “Frank and Margarete Smith Cottage Garden”.

Plants grow and bloom at different times throughout the year, which means that every visit to the Garden is a new experience. This is something that the Smiths appreciated deeply, and it is one of the reasons why the family have chosen to support the development of the Cottage Garden, with its wide variety of plant specimens.

Frank grew up in the city of London, England but often visited grandparents at their rural cottage in Devon, England; Margarete came from a farming village in Bavaria. Both acquired a life-long devotion to gardening. They first gardened together in a small house near London, England; then in St. John’s first on Higgins Line and then for close to 50 years on Chestnut Place. The family have fond memories of all the vegetables and berries and the flowers that beautified the garden from early spring to late fall - despite the challenging climate.

They also have very fond memories of many visits to the Botanical Garden over the years, including with grandchildren. Frank and Margarete always enjoyed visits to other gardens and especially the Botanical Garden, both for the beauty and peace it brought but also to for the inspiration of seeing what other people could do, so they could make their garden the best it could be.

The gift will create a permanent endowment that will allow for the continual development and maintenance of the Cottage Garden, as well as support a range of activities. This may include the hiring of students or contractual staff to care for the garden and surrounding area, horticultural research, teaching and learning on plants contained within the Cottage Garden, and events and programming that showcase the garden. Other uses could also include new educational programs, events, and even art installations inspired by the garden.

With the support of the endowment, the garden's caretakers will be able to experiment with new plants and designs, and to develop new ways to engage visitors. In particular, Frank was an avid lover of roses, and a new section dedicated to roses of different varieties will begin development in 2023.  

This generous gift speaks not just to the Smiths’ fondness for the Cottage Garden. It is also a testament to the important role the Botanical Garden plays in our community. The Botanical Garden is a place of beauty, learning, and inspiration. It is a place that brings people together, and that reminds us of the importance of our natural world. 

We look forward to sharing more news about the development of the Frank and Margarete Cottage Garden in the near future.