By Rhiannon Allen
Recently, Point Roberts lost a wonderful woman, friend and gardener. Jody Hackleman was one of the creative forces of the Point Roberts Garden Club. Her cheerfulness and generosity brightened club activities, and indeed the community of Point Roberts. She is missed, but like all gardeners she has brightened the lives of others, and her life continues through those she inspired.
Gardening is a profoundly satisfying activity – at least for most of us. Like artists, we create structure, beauty and nourishment, be it for the senses or the belly. As artists, we envision and explore a future, get our hands dirty and create works of art for all to enjoy. Our gardens are our palettes, awaiting a daub of color, a sweep of texture and a balance of horizontal and vertical interest.
Jody was a true creator. Deeply inspired by art, she used her gardening skills to create a delightful cottage garden. True gardeners are also patient, eschewing the quick garden installation so favored by many rich and famous. Jody was no exception. Her garden grew step by step – an enhanced border here, a new rose there, a small memorial garden dedicated to her cat and raised garden beds and trellises artfully constructed by her husband Scott. It reminds one of Mallett’s old song, “Inch by inch and row by row; gonna make this garden grow.”
But Jody’s contributions were far broader than the development of a private garden. In 2009, she was elected vice president of the garden club (along with Jessica McVey), a position she held by acclamation for the next five years. In 2010, she assumed responsibility for organizing the club’s programs, another task she executed for years. And what fun that eventually led to for all of us!
Jody emphasized the “club” in “garden club.” Meetings became less formal and more jovial. “Show and Share Socials” featuring tea, cookies and plant sharing came to accompany each meeting. She continued the club’s tradition of inviting feature speakers, drawing on both Point Roberts experts and others from beyond our borders. Following up on Peg Keenleyside’s desire for field trips, she helped organize outings for club members and friends. The ones I found particularly memorable were guided tours of the Point Roberts Homegrown Co-op, Phoenix Perennials in Richmond, and Free Spirit Nursery in Langley.
She also expanded our members garden visits, initially intended to take place in years alternating with the Point Roberts Garden Tour, but eventually becoming a yearly staple. From spring through early autumn, club members and their guests convened at the garden of a club member or friend for a guided tour of the garden, generally followed by another garden or two, and often concluding with a cheerful wine and appies reception, often held in Jody and Scott’s garden. How jolly those “mini-tours” were! Not only did you get to enjoy the company of other gardeners, but also wander through their gardens and get in-depth insights into particular plants and solutions.
Additionally, after Doreen Trudell’s retirement from writing this column, Jody became one of the core contributors to the All Point Bulletin. You could always tell which were Jody’s columns. They were lyrical and beautifully written, and sometimes revealed her sly sense of humor. While possessing her own style, she could mesh seamlessly with others. I’m sure my husband is not the only one who couldn’t tell which item in a “Dear Santa” column was Jody’s wish or mine.
In her columns, Jody revelled in individual plants, rolling their names around and waxing rhapsodic about the plant’s beauty. But, a typical gardener, she recognized the tension between desire and practicality. So we followed her reasoning about how one plant was too prone to black spot, another too tender for our winter. After all, gardeners must be realistic, although Jody was typical in wanting to “push the zone” by growing plants from her beloved Pasadena up here. It’s not a surprise then that she occasionally wrote of growing citrus indoors and personally advised people how to overwinter tender plants like Aeonium indoors.
She also shared her love of plants through a brilliant idea. Three years ago, she introduced the notion of beautifying Point Roberts beyond the Tyee Drive beautification project. Guerrilla planting was her idea to brighten various roadsides in Point Roberts. After a club discussion of various types of guerrilla planting, we decided to plant spring flowering bulbs on random roadsides throughout Point Roberts. Jody took the initiative in selecting bulbs, purchasing them and distributing them to club members so they could take to the roadsides. So in spring, watch for the occasional roadside crocus, tiny iris or miniature daffodil. In all likelihood, that spring burst of color was Jody’s idea and a special expression of her joy and love.