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Pink Tree Day at Daffodil House in St. John's raises breast cancer awareness and money for research

From left, Erin Pretty, Emily Winters, and Jennifer Mackey dressed as their garden fairy characters Pink, Blossom, and Hope for the tree planting ceremony. Mackey had to work at the ER, but she asked for two hours off to be a garden fairy on Thursday.
From left, Erin Pretty, Emily Winters, and Jennifer Mackey dressed as their garden fairy characters Pink, Blossom, and Hope for the tree planting ceremony. Mackey had to work at the ER, but she asked for two hours off to be a garden fairy on Thursday. - Melissa Wong

A special pink-tree planting ceremony, on the first day of summer, was held Thursday in the Husky Energy Healing Garden at Daffodil House.

Linda Ryan, the founder of Pink Days in Bloom and a breast cancer survivor, was at the event with her husband, Majella Ryan.

The event was held during National Gardening week.

Ryan wanted the pink flowering trees to be in honour of not just all the people affected by breast cancer, but by everyone affected by all cancers as they celebrate Canadian gardens together.

The event not only celebrated Canada's garden week, but recognized the healing power that comes from a garden and a symbol of strength for cancer patients — the pink blossom tree.

"It is a weeping cherry," said Pat Puddester, owner and operator of Pat's Plants and Gardens, who brought the tree to Daffodil House's Healing Garden.

Puddester also supplied the original tree that Ryan used to start Pink Days in Bloom.

Ryan approached Puddester in July 2011 with an idea to raise funds for breast cancer research in Newfoundland and Labrador.

After their first event, Ryan approached other garden centres in the following years, until people across Canada were planting the pink trees.

Ryan's Pink Days in Bloom was an awareness and fundraising initiative for the Breast Cancer Foundation. Last year, the Breast Cancer Foundation merged with the Canadian Cancer Society, which now supports Pinks Days in Bloom events.

The celebration urges people to stop, smell the flowers and, in Ryan's case, hope for a cure.

"You have to believe in something, right?" she said.

Three garden fairies attended the event — Erin Pretty plays the fairy Pink, Emily Winters portrays Blossom and Jennifer Mackey plays Hope.

Ryan said her idea for the garden fairies came from her neighbours. While she had cancer, Ryan was too sick to take care of her garden and she worried about what was going to happen to it. However, her neighbours would sneak into her backyard like "sprites" and do the garden work for her.

When Ryan would come out in the evenings after the sun has softened, she would find the garden taken care of. Her garden "sprites" would even leave notes of encouragement in the garden to help her in her struggle with breast cancer.

Ryan said she never knew when they would come, but she would know when the "sprites" had been in her garden.

melissa.wong@thetelegram.com

@Journalistwong

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