JARS v56n4 - In Memoriam: Margaret Buffam

In Memoriam: Margaret Buffam
Norman Todd

On the 5th May 2002, our Society lost one of its most loyal and colourful members. At the age of 90, Margaret Buffam died peacefully in her treasured home among her devoted family and surrounded by her comforting garden. We are both weakened and strengthened by Margaret's leaving us. Margaret packed more pep per pound and more creativity per thought than any dozen of us combined. We will sadly miss that dynamism. But she is now part of the lore, the tradition, the heritage of our group. We have that cementing memory of a pioneering, gleeful, artistic, doggedly resourceful spirit to bind the ties of time to the fortunes of the future.

In 1979, a group of gardeners used to meet in Dave Ballantyne's lab at the University on Saturday mornings to talk about rhododendrons. Margaret and husband Bonar were essential constituents in the resulting yeast that caused the Victoria Rhododendron Society to rise. Her guiding enthusiasm was augmented by Dr. Bonar's wry sagacity. Friendships were formed and she was their stimulus.

I have so many memories of Buffy going round her garden when every plant was addressed, reminded of its origins, and admonished to perform; working tirelessly at the '89 convention painting 1,000 name tags, and a gallery-class watercolour of Rhododendron macrophyllum which she donated as a raffle prize; walking back to the hotel in Edinburgh after a day at the Royal Botanic Garden; her concern for the waitress at Clayoquot Island who spilled melted butter over Bonar's suave suede jacket; savouring her hamburger soup and brewing her raspberry vinegar; witnessing her modestly under-expressed pride in the two magnificent desks she built for her sons; tending the Dollar Table at the meetings and fishing for change for a toonie. Her artistry with a paint brush, a chisel, an oven and rooting hormone was of the highest sort, as, no doubt, was her skill as a nurse. She was truly a many talented person.

Margaret will be badly missed but she will not ever be forgotten.