Number 44   September - October 2005


By Martha Burkard and Bea Whyld

Myriam was born in Han-Kow, in the central region of eastern China, some 700 miles west of Shanghai. Once a separate city, today Han-Kow is one of three districts that comprise the city of Wu-Han, the capitol of Hu-Bei Provence, situated in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. She is one of six children, two brothers and three sisters. In 1947 her father?s employment moved the family to Hong Kong. It is here that Myriam completed her general education. After completing high school, Myriam left Hong Kong to come to America to go to college.

She was accepted at the University of Texas in Austin and enrolled with a major in biology with the goal of moving on to pre-med. Myriam had to support herself while attending college. Literally she worked day and night, including weekends, to help pay her college and living expenses, while still making time to study. One of the requirements for graduation was taking PE (physical education) classes. She selected golf. But she took the class in winter hoping it would rain, thus giving her more time to study.

Myriam (center) and friends on a visit home to Hong Kong in 1963

Myriam worked in the biology lab cleaning test tubes and preparing medium for cultures. She worked in the library and on weekends baby sat for various members of the staff. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Her first job after graduation was performing research in microbiology having to do with fungi, however, she decided this was not for her, so she found work in the hospital in cytology. Interested in furthering her career, she reviewed the medical journals with a possible job change in mind. In 1965 she moved to Sacramento to work at Sutter General Hospital, continuing her research work in cytology.

In 1966, she moved to Los Angeles to work at the UCLA Hospital Laboratory. The following year Myriam met her future husband Henry. They were married in 1969. A year later son Derek was born. Four years later daughter Teresa was welcomed into the family. Henry (now retired) had a career as a structural engineer with the County of Los Angeles. Currently Derek is a management consultant headquartered in Hong Kong, and Teresa is a practicing attorney in San Francisco.

In 1998 Myriam decided to become a Rose Garden Docent. Her interest and desire to learn continued so she also became an Herb, Desert, and Camellia Docent. And, as if this were not enough to keep her busy, she volunteered in the plant propagation program for the Rose Garden and in Plant Sales.

One of Myriam?s newest interests (no new interest ever eliminates prior commitments) is working with Katarina Eriksson, Head Gardener Perennial Gardens, and Judy Polinsky, Herb Garden Volunteer, making rose petal water from different roses. They are conducting research on variations of water colors and fragrances, as well as the length of time each color and fragrance will last. Myriam is also lending her many talents to the upcoming Chinese Garden, helping out with translations, garden tours, and whatever other Volunteer activities need her attention in this latest Huntington major undertaking.

In 2002 she co-chaired the Rose/Shakespeare Gardens Docent organization with Dorothy Fansler.

She has written several articles for Subrosa and The Tattler. Her Subrosa contributions include: ?An Interview With Clair Martin on the Shakespeare Bust and the two Roses ?Snow Goose? and ?Souvenir de la Malmasion?,? ?The Primrose Path,? ?Statistical Comparisons,? ?Tree Heather In The Shakespeare Garden,? and ?A Visit To Japan.?

Her hobbies include gardening, creating ceramic art, and traveling. Myriam and Henry are leaving soon for a two week trip to Yorkshire that will include gardens and literature, particularly that of the Bronte sisters.

Myriam admitted that before coming to The Huntington she had a ?brown thumb.? It seemed everything she planted died. Her home garden now includes herbs, cacti, and her favorite trees and roses. The trees are the ones she remembers as a child growing up in Hong Kong--the magnolia Michelia doltsopa native to the Himalayas and the Bauhinia blakeana, the Hong Kong orchid tree. These trees are in full view from any window of her house. Her love for roses is challenged by the deer that like to visit. It seems they like the roses, particularly the buds as they make great appetizers.

Myriam credits her success at The Huntington to the encouragement she received while in the Docent training from Clair Martin, Curator and to her two mentors Marty Burkard and Bea Whyld who were there when she needed help. However, in our defense, we must point out that Myriam arrived here with the personality, curiosity, drive, and ambition to achieve the success that has been hers as a Huntington ?person.? We would also like to mention what a delight it has been to work with and develop a close friendship with Myriam.

Myriam loves being a part of The Huntington Gardens. ?My life is so much happier because of The Huntington. There is always something new to learn, and the people are the greatest. I want to thank The Huntington for giving me these wonderful opportunities to learn and do all the things that are so interesting to me. This is like discovering a new life.?

Martha Burkard and Bea Whyld, Rose/Shakespeare Garden Docents


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