Burnett: Fond memories of a cherished friend; A last minute gift

My column is dedicated to a dear friend of my family and a long-time member of the Kelowna Garden Club. Mabel Uyeda recently passed away at the age of 94 years. Although she and her husband Bill moved to Vancouver in 1954, when I was only four years old, I have so many childhood memories of them both.

Mabel was the daughter of Joe and Kuni Shirai a pioneer Kelowna family who lived just down the street from us on Ethel. They operated a large cherry (and other fruit) orchard on the property bordering what is now Gordon about where the Mill Creek Bridge is, near Sutherland.

As kids we would go to the Shirai property to fish in the creek and I have many fond memories of that.

Mabel was such a comfort to my mother when my oldest sister Lynn was struggling with terminal leukemia and mom never forgot that.

When Mabel and husband Bill returned to Kelowna in 1992 to retire I was so pleased to re-acquaint with them and enjoyed Mabel’s passion for succulents and fascinated by her collection.

Her attendance and contribution to the Kelowna Garden Club was incredible and I always enjoyed seeing her and speaking with her when attending meetings.

We joked about the fact she would give me baths when I was a baby in our large kitchen sink!

My sincere condolences go out to Mabel’s family.


My friend and fellow garden consultant and writer Scott Austin has published a book highlighting about 100 of his newspaper articles written over the course of a quarter century.

Congratulations to you Scott.

The book is called Sun Sand and Sagebrush: Lessons from an Okanagan Gardener. This is, I believe, the best publication of Okanagan gardening ever written and is a great read for all levels. It’s not your traditional gardening book of reference, rather a delightful journal of personalized experiences pursuing the most popular leisure time activity in North America.

Don’t get me wrong; a lot of valuable information and facts can be gained by reading the book but it is a gardening book to be read as one would read non-fiction rather than a reference book of which we already have too many to choose from.

The information you get is just as if you were in casual conversation with a knowledgeable neighbour over the back fence.

Scott’s book is available at most major garden centres in the valley and it will make a fabulous Christmas gift to the gardeners on your list.


A warning for those purchasing Christmas trees during this cold snap. Do not and I repeat do not drive home with your tree strapped to the roof of your vehicle without appropriate wrapping or you will end up with a needleless tree about two hours after you bring it into the house.

An enclosed van is your best bet or well wrapped with plastic or gunny sack in the back of a pickup.

When it comes to plants and flowers such as poinsettias they must be well wrapped before leaving the store and kept warm while driving home. It only takes about one minute in this cold weather to fry an exposed poinsettia.

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