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CBS garden enthusiasts preparing to bloom in front of judges

By Mark Squibb/July 29, 2022

The Town of Conception Bay South is asking folks to tidy their properties and pretty their gardens ahead of August 5, when Communities in Bloomlocal judges Gail Pearcey and Peggy Head will be evaluating the entire community.

The town will be rated from 1 to 5 Blooms, based on six criteria, including community appearance, environmental action, heritage conservation, tree management, landscape and plant and floral displays. 

Local gardener Susan Saunders said she appreciates efforts undertaken by the town, such as inviting Communities in Bloom here to encourage good gardening.

“Council has really embraced gardening,” said Saunders, pointing out beautiful floral displays at Kitty Ade’s Turn, Worsley Park, and the War Memorial site. “And as a regular taxpayer, it’s so good to see. And people might see it and say, ‘Look, they’re spending money there on flowers.’ But look at the difference it makes. It really does make a difference in the long run. If everything was just concrete and stark, this would be New York.”

Susan and her husband Davis have been tending to their own garden on Anchorage Road the better part of 40 years.

“We’ve been here, forty-plus years, so the garden is really mature,” said Saunders. “It’s the different species and different textures, I think, that make a garden.”

An endless variety of trees and shrubs, flowers of every kind and colour and shape and size, statues of Greek maidens and busts of regal emperors, and mischievous woodland creatures round every corner of the couple’s outdoor sanctuary.

Of all the vegetation, Saunders is perhaps most proud of a rare tulip tree at the front of the property.

“We’ve gone to hundreds of gardens in the last 30 years, and we’ve seen one tulip tree,” said Saunders.

Saunders has grafted a branch and is growing it in the hothouse — though she hasn’t yet figured out who the lucky recipient will be of the rare tree, which is common to the eastern United States.

It’s common for members of the Conception Bay South Country Garden Club, such as Saunders, to gift one another flowers, plants or shrubs.

“I don’t sell my flowers. When I divide them and make sure there are no weeds in them, I give them away, because there’s always somebody who wants something,” she explained.

If you’re interested in learning how to grow your garden, Saunders advised joining the club and learning along with the rest of them.

No garden, she said, is too big or too small to love.

“Even if you have a window box, and you love your window box, or just one planter, if you love it, we do too, because we all started off small,” said Saunders. “Some people just have window boxes, but what beautiful displays they have in the window box. And some people have just pots going up their stairs. But everybody’s garden is gorgeous… no matter how big or how little, if you love your garden, we love it.”

Saunders said each member has something to contribute to the group’s shared knowledge, and the members learn from one another all the time.

“Something like a little trick to getting an orchid to rebloom again,” said Saunders. “I got one now, and I can’t believe it… and I’ve never been able to do it before. And there’s people who are able to do this with orchids all the time, and I’ve never been able to do it. So, there’s something that everyone can bring to every organization.”

While some may think gardening a chore, Saunders thinks just the opposite.

“I think it’s therapeutic,” said Saunders. “I like deadheading the flowers, a little bit of pruning here and there, and then we sit down, have a cup of tea and watch the birds… and we like the challenge of, ‘Can we grow this or that?’”

And while many say Newfoundland is a rock and nothing can grow here, Sounders said that with a little patience, creativity, and perseverance, that’s just not true.

“What you can grow here is second to none,” said Saunders. “The other night we went to a garden, and he had grapes growing, and we thought we were in the south of France or Italy. Down by the water, in the Gullies, could you ever believe it?”

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