PETUNIA TREE - This year, the petunia tree outside Eckville Manor House is bedecked in red and white flowers to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary.                                Photo by Megan Roth/Eckville Echo

PETUNIA TREE - This year, the petunia tree outside Eckville Manor House is bedecked in red and white flowers to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary. Photo by Megan Roth/Eckville Echo

Petunia tree dedicated in patriotic colours

The Eckville Manor House went away from traditional colours to celebrate nation’s birthday

A leader in the comunity of Eckville was fondly remebered last week. Friends, family, residents and digntaries all gathered on June 6 for the dedication of the petunia tree outside of Eckville Manor House. The petunia tree is once again overflowing with a surfeit of flowers in honour of JoAnne Myrtle Knopp.

Knopp, a former employee with Eckville Manor House, is honoured every year for her leadership while she worked there. Rec Coordinator Kelly Judson said, “Knopp worked for over 24 years with us. She started in the kitchen and was a cook for many years. For the three or four years prior to her passing, she was assistant manager here.”

Over 100 guests showed up on June 6 to pay tribute to Knopp’s legacy – and to the legacies of their own loved ones. A short service was held in front of the tree, and guests were treated to a beef on a bun lunch, afterward.

This year, the usual hardy weather-resistant pink petunias that the greenhouse recommends have been supplanted by a more patriotic display of petals, in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

“Because of Canada’s birthday, we put the option to residents, and they voted by show of hands, to see a red and white tribute in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday,” said Judson. “We never have [arranged] it the way it is now, with layers of red and white tiered like that. It will be very pretty, when it connects and they flow into one another.”

Judson stressed Knopp put her heart and soul into the work she did at the manor, adding Knopp was “amazing,” and “like a ray of sunshine. She was all smiles, and she had time for everybody. She was just the heart of the manor while she was here.”

After Knopp passed away in February 2006, the petunia tree – an arrangement of Knopp’s favourite kind of flowers on a rack resembling a tree – was constructed in the front yard of the manor. It now serves as a place to fondly recollect the memories of loved ones for everyone in the community.

Judson said the yearly dedication of the petunia tree is now a popular event, and added the petunia tree is now something of a focal point in the community.

“We see people driving in after the flowers bloom, making the circle slowly, checking it out,” said Judson. “That makes it a kind of drawing card for the town, I think. Joanne would have loved it.”