Winner Category 6
The Barnardo Group of Peterborough, Ont. for the best garden using trees and shrubs.
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.