Win­ner Cat­e­gory 6

The Barnardo Group of Peter­bor­ough, Ont. for the best gar­den us­ing trees and shrubs.

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - LOCAL DIRT -

The Barnardo gar­den has a lengthy his­tory. Start­ing in 1991, a lo­cal gar­dener, Zolton Banks, had a vi­sion to beau­tify a traf­fic is­land bounded by Barnardo Av­enue and Wolsely Street in Peter­bor­ough, On­tario. 17 years later it has passed into the hands of a new group of gar­den­ers who have made it a space that driv­ers can ap­pre­ci­ate as they travel by.

In 2009 the Barnardo Gar­den had fallen into dis­re­pair and with­out the man­power to main­tain it, had be­come heav­ily over­grown, so lo­cal gar­dener, Dayle Fin­lay de­cided to take on the daunt­ing project. Shirley Scott, Jen Bird and Cauleen Vis­coff came on board soon after. With over 75 years of gar­den­ing ex­pe­ri­ence among them, they brought a wealth of knowl­edge and ex­per­tise to the project. The gar­den was so far gone by the time they took on the project, the en­tire site had to be bull­dozed. They only man­aged to save some of the orig­i­nal plants that they re­planted once the site was cleared. They begged and bor­rowed shov­els and the mus­cle be­hind them and got to work mak­ing it beau­ti­ful again.

It be­gan as a ‘pretty’ gar­den with dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of pink and pur­ple flow­ers but they quickly re­al­ized that they needed to pro­vide the gar­den with some height and struc­ture as most of the view­ing au­di­ence of the gar­den were driv­ing by in their cars. They chose plants and trees that would have an im­me­di­ate im­pact like the gi­ant fleece flower which takes cen­tre stage in the mid­dle of the gar­den along with the Dolgo crabap­ple trees (from which they made some prize-win­ning jelly). The Ja­panese maple needs re­plac­ing as it sadly suc­cumbed to salt and road de­bris last win­ter. Bushes and shrubs cre­ated tex­ture as well as pro­vid­ing a va­ri­ety of shapes and colours and cozy spa­ces for bun­nies and the odd fam­ily of ducks.

The gar­den runs about fifty by one hun­dred feet now and def­i­nitely re­quires more vol­un­teers to keep with the gout weed and gen­eral main­te­nance!

They have gone through some dif­fi­cult sea­sons, like the time that a six-foot hole was er­ro­neously dug in the mid­dle of the gar­den by a worker in­stalling un­der­ground wires, or the loss of some ma­ture tree pe­onies when some­one un­known to the team, ap­plied weed killer. Ev­ery ob­sta­cle is seen as an op­por­tu­nity to learn and to teach though, and they tackle them with­out com­plaint! The city of Peter­bor­ough has been a huge sup­port to the gar­den as they helped with the ini­tial bull­doz­ing of the prop­erty and have pro­vided mulch and cut­ting the grass around it which helps with some of the fi­nan­cial bur­den. In fact, dur­ing the drought last year one city worker took it upon him­self to wa­ter the gar­dens him­self dur­ing the ‘off’ wa­ter­ing days and Cauleen cred­its him with sav­ing the gar­den dur­ing a very dif­fi­cult time!

Cauleen says, ‘This gar­den is en­tirely vol­un­teer driven. We four meet weekly and do our best to beau­tify this for­mer dirt-filled traf­fic is­land.” The end­less amount of labour has paid off, though, as they of­ten have peo­ple honk­ing horns and wav­ing as they drive by or stop­ping to say ‘thank you’ for mak­ing the spot beau­ti­ful again. The Barnardo Gar­den truly sym­bol­izes the pride, unity and cel­e­bra­tion of all it means to be a Cana­dian gar­dener.

The Bar­nado gar­den was cre­ated to beau­tify a dirt-filled traf­fic is­land in 1991, and to­day a ded­i­cated team of vol­un­teers con­tinue to keep it vi­brant.

Cauleen Vis­coff is one of the ded­i­cated vol­un­teers who main­tain the gar­den.

They chose plants that gave pleas­ing colour and tex­ture, with an em­pha­sis on pur­ple and pink flow­ers.

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