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‘Garden Gifts’ at MUN Botanical Garden in St. John’s hopes to draw more visitors

Anita Carroll (left), the owner of Posie Row, started volunteering at the Memorial University Botanical Garden by curating products to bring into the gift shop. Ashley Wright (right), marketing adviser with the garden, says Carroll has turned the gift shop into a destination of its own. – Andrew Waterman/The Telegram
Anita Carroll (left), the owner of Posie Row, started volunteering at the Memorial University Botanical Garden by curating products to bring into the gift shop. Ashley Wright (right), marketing adviser with the garden, says Carroll has turned the gift shop into a destination of its own. – Andrew Waterman/The Telegram

Curated by owner of Posie Row, the products reflect the quiet beauty of the garden

Andrew Waterman

The Telegram

andrew.waterman@thetelegram.com

@AndrewLWaterman

When Anita Carroll’s children were growing up, she loved to take them to the Memorial University Botanical Garden on Mount Scio Road in St. John’s to walk through the trails and wonder at the beauty of the province’s plants and flowers.

But it had been years since she visited when, two Christmases ago, a choir she is involved in began carolling as part of the Festival of Lights, an event where visitors walk the snowy paths guided by a spectacle of illumination. Her interest in the gardens was sparked once again.

“I just love it. I think it’s a beautiful place,” she said.

Carroll is the owner of Posie Row on Duckworth Street in downtown St. John’s. Recently, she went into semi-retirement, she says, leaving the day-to-day work to her managers and staff.

Now, because of the extra time she has, she has decided to help the Botanical Garden by volunteering to upgrade its gift shop.

“Gifts shops are a great way for places like this to make money,” Carroll said. “I travel a fair bit and it’s one of the things that I’m always really interested in. Any time I go to a museum or botanical garden or art gallery, I’m right into the gift shop. I guess I’m a retailer to the core.”

Carroll has curated a mix of imported and local products, with the aim of hitting every demographic at every price point.

There are local books, hand-made mugs, children’s activities and clothing, all revolving around the theme of gardens and nature.

Ashley Wright, marketing adviser with the MUN Botanical Garden, said Carroll has brought a new identity to the gift shop.

“Having Anita come in … matching things up with the garden, I think really elevates this space (and) makes the gift shop a destination of its own,” she said. “It adds a lot more whimsy to the space. It’s a neat fit.”

The products Carroll has brought in reflect the beautiful, quiet nature of the garden, Wright says.

“(And) the funny little things in it, the bugs and the things you may not notice when you walk through,” she said.

A pandemic is not exactly the easiest time to figure out your market and what products visitors are buying. In any other year, a lot of the garden's summer visitors would be tourists.

“It’ll be a process … (but) so far a little bit of everything has been (selling),” Carroll said.

Darcy McMeekin, the development officer at the Botanical Garden, says the garden is planning some of the largest infrastructure projects it has undertaken in the last 40 years.

“(There is) a lot of exciting things to come,” he said.

And the profits from the gift shop will contribute to those projects, which has Carroll excited.

“If money could be raised and it went toward something beautiful … it (is) encouraging,” Carroll said.

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