Mary Kirkwyland, age 60, passed away Sunday, January 8, 2023, at her home in the Village of Dryden.
Born November 27, 1962, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Maryellyn Donna Marie Kirk was the daughter of William Kirk and Felicia (Abate) Twigg. Mary grew up in Baltimore, MD, and attended Howard High School in Columbia, MD. Mary discovered her passion for plants at a young age, working at Metzler’s Nursery while in high school. She attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, earning a B.A. in environmental studies. Mary continued to gain experience in growing & caring for plants working throughout her undergraduate career at a local plant nursery and as a manager of the Evergreen State student organic farm.
She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management at the University of California, Davis, afterwards working for the University as the manager of the Sustainable Farming Systems Research project. At Davis, Mary met her husband-to-be, Jon Wyland; they married in 1990, combined their last names to create their new name, Kirkwyland, and moved to Dryden, NY.
After a time in Dryden, Mary and Jon established their own plant nursery business, Wintersun Nursery, on property they purchased in Cortlandville. In their greenhouses they grew bedding plants, vegetable starts, herbs, hanging baskets, & greenhouse tomatoes, which they sold at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market and to many stores and garden centers in the area. In addition, Mary worked for Cornell University assisting in research in greenhouse pest management.
Mary sold the nursery business after their family began to grow, and she devoted herself to homeschooling her three children, Natalie, James, and Hattie. The family moved back to the Village of Dryden, where Mary started her second business, Lyrical Landscapes, designing, installing, and maintaining gardens. During the winter seasons, Mary began working for Cornell University again, editing fruit and vegetable pest management guides for commercial and organic growers.
Mary loved the Village of Dryden and was always dreaming of ways to make it an even better place. She was one of the original founders of the Dryden Community Cafe. She also created the Dryden Beautification Brigade, a group of volunteers who worked maintaining the various plantings in Dryden and encouraging the village and business owners to create new plantings, such as the Butterfly Garden at the entrance to the Jim Shugg trail. Along with members of the Beautification Brigade, Mary started the Open Gate Garden and Tour, in which a select group of local gardeners open their gardens to visitors in order to share ideas. In addition, Mary helped spearhead the effort to build a new playground at Montgomery Park, coordinating fundraising activities and managing volunteers to assist in the build. Mary was also instrumental in helping the Village of Dryden develop a program of tree planting and earn the designation of “Tree City USA.” More recently, Mary collaborated with several other local business owners to form the Dryden Business Association, an organization dedicated to encouraging local business owners through sharing ideas and to planning activities to benefit the community as a whole.
Mary is survived by her husband, Jon, and their three children, as well as her father and mother, her three sisters, Raissa Kirk, Patricia Jeffreys, Felicia Kirk, and one brother, William Kirk.
There will be a service celebrating her life and planting of a tree in her memory at Dryden’s Montgomery Park at 12:00pm on Saturday, July 15, 2023.
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