Last week lupins, this week daffodils. I am truly blessed to be able to share stories from Newfoundland gardeners. These excerpts are from an email from Donna Ansell that made my week.
“In 1938 my mom, Abbie Belle Matthews, was born and raised in Grand Bank. She left for Ontario when she was 16 and soon after met my dad and they were married, having two children. Mom and Dad came back to Newfoundland to retire in 1994, building a house just outside of Grand Bank, in the “country.”
Besides running an immaculate home, she poured her passion into her gardens that she created on their +acres property, high above on a hill, with a beautiful view of the Ocean. Mom was a very private person, very rarely would they have visitors. From sun up to sun down she would clean her home and tinker in her gardens.
“After a long bout with cancer, she passed away Feb. 12, 2012 and my dad became very lonely without her, as she was his only friend for many years. Not knowing what to do with himself, he actually put the property up for sale and went to Ontario to be near family. It wasn’t long before he realized he wanted to be back in Newfoundland, back to the home and garden that found him such comfort and peace. He didn’t want to be by himself, however, so he came up with the idea of opening a bed and breakfast which would allow him to share what he loved so much with visitors from all over the world. He named the bed and breakfast in honour of my mom “Abbie’s Garden B&B.” (In keeping with my Mom’s standards, he received a 4 1/2 star rating from Canada Select and before long he was booked up and renting out rooms in the house, including his own.)
“I moved down permanently June 2013 to be with my dad, for company and to give him a hand with his new growing business.
“Early in the spring, each year the gardens sprout a multitude of daffodils so Dad and I came up with the idea of starting an annual event to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society, specifically to Daffodil House, by allowing people to come and pick their own daffodils. These particular flowers are in full bloom around mid-May; which also happens to be Mother’s Day weekend, a perfect time to raise money for Cancer. Some of my Mom’s favourite people were from the Daffodil House in St. Johns.; I know she’d be happy knowing that our donations from her daffodils will be going there.”
This year will be the first “Come Pick a Daffodil, Make a Donation” event and the town and local businesses are readily responding. On Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11, along with offering daffodils to pick, Donna and her father Bruce Stone at Abbie’s Garden B&B will also be selling raffle tickets for a donated assortment of prizes and gift certificates. There will be refreshments and a barbecue happening from 12-4 p.m. each day. Prize draws will be held at 3:30pm Sunday, May 1. All of the proceeds and donations will go to the Canadian Cancer Society, Daffodil House in St. John’s.
Donna was kind enough to invite me to the event and there’s nothing I’d rather do, but I won’t know for sure if I can make it until after next week. Grand Bank has been first on my “next place to go” list for the past two years, and now there’s another great reason to visit this beautiful historic town. Hope to see lots of Burin Peninsula gardeners there.
A clarification from last week’s column; an editing blip turned my anticipated “new harbour garden” into my “New Harbour garden.” How about my new garden in the harbour at Heart’s Content? Why don’t I just call it the Gin & Tonic Garden and be done with it?
Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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