SHERRY MULLEY MACDONALD: Celebrating beauty of community gardening

Gardening is a popular warm-weather activity. In addition to offering enthusiasts the opportunity to see the fruits of their labour, for many, being in the garden provides a time to de-stress and concentrate on the beauty that surrounds them.

In Canada, 2022 has been designated the Year of the Garden. A time dedicated to encouraging people to celebrate nature by planting, growing and enjoying the outdoors and gardening in general.

In Cape Breton, June 18th has been declared Garden Day and 100 years of gardening will be celebrated.

Whether it is preparing the soil, removing weeds or growing flowers, gardeners have their own reasons for getting their hands dirty.

Dona Benac is no stranger to the garden scene here on the island. She is president of the North Sydney Garden Club.

She said gardening provides countless hours of entertainment and relaxation.

“There are so many benefits to getting out in the garden, getting the soil ready and tending to the plants,” Benac said. “Even though I have spent many years gardening, I always look forward to the time when I can roll up my sleeves and get to work. It never gets old to me.

“We are fortunate here on the Northside to have a dedicated group of members who look forward to working on projects that make the community look its best during the warmer months of the year.”

Over the years, members of the North Sydney Garden Club have planted hundreds of trees and have had workshops on wreath making and flower arranging. Yearly flower shows were held up until COVID-19 hit. Members are hoping to get back to those activities soon.

The North Sydney club fundraiser plant sale is held in the spring and allows members to contribute to the Christmas Dinner Fund at the area food bank as well as provide gift bags for Talbot House residents at Christmas.

Benac said members of the North Sydney club are looking forward to this year’s Garden Day event. She said it is a combined effort by the Cape Breton district.

In addition to the North Sydney Garden Club here on the island, there are clubs in Westmount, Inverness and Isle Madame. The clubs make up the Cape Breton district of the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs. Each club enjoys a membership that is eager to do its part.

Clubs participate in their own project within their community. All of the projects are highly visible and designed to add beauty to an area.

“The main public project our club is involved in is the Field of Hope at the triangle by the lights as you enter North Sydney. It was created years ago and was inspired by the cancer association’s daffodil campaign,” Benac said.

Members of garden clubs on the island are looking forward to this year’s Garden Day event on Saturday. It is a combined effort by the Cape Breton district.

Clubs in the Cape Breton District have activities planned to mark 100 years of gardening. Gardening enthusiasts and members of the public are invited to gather at the Sydney-Riverview Y Service Club on Westmount Road to celebrate.

There will be displays and information on a variety of topics relating to gardening. In addition, several interactive demonstrations on a number of garden topics, including succulents, orchids, children’s gardens and others will be offered.

Events run from 1:30-3:30 pm and the public is invited to attend. Admission is free of charge. There will be giveaways and tea and cake will be offered.

Garden club members across the island encourage people with an interest in gardening to join a club in their area.

“Gardening is a wonderful activity and being a part of a club provides the opportunity for people to share like-minded activities in a very welcoming environment. We are very social and we often take garden tours together,” Benac said.

Further information on the Year of the Garden can be found online at the

Sherry Mulley MacDonald is an author and freelance journalist. She is a lifelong resident of the Northside with a fondness for the community in which she lives.

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