For this Newfoundland gardener, it is all about the joy
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 cwf-fcf.org to learn how you can participate.