By BRIAN SMITH
Nancy Newby-Brown will be forever remembered with a greenhouse at Chandor Gardens.
A year to the day after her passing, the greenhouse was officially opened Wednesday morning. Members of the Parker County Heritage Society and Parker County Master Gardeners, of which Newby-Brown was a member, spoke fondly of their friend. Local horticulturist and garden writer Steve L. Chamblee said the greenhouse is still a “work in progress” and has been for nearly two years.
Chamblee said Nancy and her husband, Charley Brown, actually donated the greenhouse, which was on their property north of Springtown to the gardens, about 18 months ago. Brown said it was “the wrong time of year to move a greenhouse” so the greenhouse sat for a spell. Nancy then was killed March 6, 2012, in a car-pedestrian accident and the project “froze” for about three months.
“Charley called me one day and said it was time to donate and move the greenhouse, saying it was what Nancy would have wanted,” Chamblee said.
Charley Brown said he and Nancy bought the greenhouse from Trinity Creek Plant Farm near Springtown about 10 or 12 years ago before donating it to the gardens. The greenhouse is a bit shorter than its original 96-foot length because of space constraints but Brown said it is a fitting tribute to his deceased spouse.
“We never could have gotten one fixed up as nice as this one,” Brown said. “It’s a privilege to be joined with Chandor Gardens in this way.”
A number of entities came through to work on the greenhouse, including the city, which helped drill holes through the hard rock to get the greenhouse set up. Parker County Heritage Society came through with a $5,000 grant, which was used for the purchase of fans, lights and benches for the plants to rest on. Parker County Master Gardeners contributed additional benches.
Chamblee said the facility is still needing a cooling system and a “bit of refinement.” He said the first of many hundreds of different types of plants were brought in about a month ago.
“This is a dream come true for the gardens,” Chamblee said. “Her and Charley’s donation of this greenhouse will enable something good to come out of something bad.”
The labor of love really began to take shape, Chamblee said, when the concrete for the facility was poured right before Christmas and a stain was laid down inside with a number of mosaics. “It began to develop a personality of its own at that point,” Chamblee said.
The greenhouse is a place for everyone and actually may develop the next great horticulturist in Parker County, according to Chandor Gardens Manager Karen Nantz.
Bill Warren, with the Parker County Heritage Society, said the greenhouse fits perfectly with what Douglas Chandor would have wanted.
“This is a furthering of Douglas’ dream, which was to make more males gardeners,” Warren said. “This greenhouse is all part of a vision to perpetuate that, which is just great.”
Master Gardener LeeAnn Nave said that Nancy always brought something from her home garden to decorate the tables at Master Gardener meetings.
“She had the biggest heart in the world,” Nave recalled. “Her name will live on and her dream comes true with this greenhouse.”
Nave said that people would comment on her decorations and “nine times out of 10” they would end up taking it home after the meeting.