For this New­found­land gar­dener, it is all about the joy

Canadian Wildlife - - CONTENTS - By Staff

With a world in her back­yard, New­found­lan­der Carol Lee­hane says it is all about joy

“I love na­ture!” says Carol Lee­hane. “And I love gar­den­ing.” The East­port, N.L., res­i­dent says there’s noth­ing she’d rather do. And that is just as well, be­cause she gar­dens all spring and sum­mer. With close to an acre, she has lots to do.

The prop­erty is bounded by a vig­or­ous stream and a small wood with large trees: alder, aspen, birch, spruce, larch. “I am en­closed here,” says Lee­hane. “It is like its own lit­tle ecosys­tem. It feels al­most mag­i­cal.”

There is a lot go­ing on: there’s a good-sized herb gar­den with le­mon balm, sage, oregano, hog wort, St. John’s wort. “Many have medic­i­nal uses, but I just grow them be­cause I like them. I bring some in­side in big bunches and hang them from the rafters in the kitchen to dry. But it is just be­cause I love the look of it. Oh, and the le­mon balm makes a nice tea.”

Wan­der­ing amid the gar­den plots along the ser­pen­tine path­ways, you’ll see many dif­fer­ent plants: black cur­rant, saska­toon berries, wild cherry, a few blue­ber­ries on the creek bank. Flow­ers too, in­clud­ing lupines, bee balm, del­phinium, this­tle, monks­hood and count­less other peren­ni­als. “The pe­onies are just stun­ning. My rose trees do very well, I must say. Such a lovely per­fume! And I’ve a honey­suckle near my back deck that nearly knocks me over some­times with the fra­grance.”

The gar­den ap­peals to wildlife too. Birds come in abun­dance: nuthatches, downy and hairy wood­peck­ers, blue­birds, grouse. “The crows are my favourite; they come around about 7 every morn­ing.” And every­thing from squir­rels to bears. “The bears visit every May and again every Oc­to­ber. My, they are glo­ri­ous crea­tures. I do love hav­ing them, but I am not fool­ish enough to go out and tell them so.”

Be­ing in New­found­land, her gar­den doesn’t have the long­est grow­ing sea­son in the coun­try: “Maybe late in April, I will be able to get a shovel in the ground. But it will be frozen solid into June some years. When it comes to weather around here, there’s noth­ing guar­an­teed. Be­ing on an is­land in the At­lantic, some­times we are lucky to get a cou­ple of weeks in July of what a sen­si­ble per­son would call sum­mer weather.”

When asked what it is she loves about gar­den­ing, she says, “I learned it from my mother—she’s 94 and still loves gar­den­ing—just as my daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter learned it too. Speak­ing for my­self, it is the peace, of be­ing with na­ture. All the good smells, from the warm earth to the mown grass and the flow­ers. For me it is spir­i­tual, a joy. In the late sum­mer af­ter­noon, I love the dap­pled light. It feels like the gar­den is hug­ging me.”

Carol Lee­hane’s gar­den is part of the Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion’s na­tional Back­yard Habi­tat Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram. Visit to learn how you can par­tic­i­pate.

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