A little over two years ago, when I knew I would be moving back to my hometown of Bonavista, I thought it was time to start moving on a plan that I had thought about for years — Bonavista had not-forprofit groups and volunteer organizations, but the town had little help when it came to landscape and horticultural planning.
Over the years the town, along with other groups, have worked with consultants, landscape designers and architects on various projects. With all due respect to specialists, these encounters have more than underscored the very real need for a not-for-profit group or society that could work with local governing bodies to impart sound landscaping advice from those with significant experience and knowledge gleaned from gardening in the area. The Bonavista Horticultural Society (BHORTS) was born.
Of course, a society needs members, and in the course of chats with known gardeners about how we could make a positive impact on the town, before long I had more than 15 names on my list, enough to call a meeting to discuss the “ big picture.”
BHORTS was to be an informal organization, in some ways a social group that could advise citizens, groups and governing bodies in the region on any landscaping related projects. I felt, being involved with the Bonavista Historic Townscape foundation and interested in their many initiatives, that our landscape efforts would complement heritage preservation nicely. At our very first meeting I spoke on “Bonavista, the town of trees,” referencing an early twentieth century postcard from the town I had found.
It was decided that our first plan was to hold a fundraiser to buy trees for historic downtown Bonavista, where few original ornamental trees were still standing. What would make an obvious fundraiser for a group such as ours, we thought? A bake sale? A produce sale? A PLANT SALE! We would have a plant and bake sale in one of Bonavista’s restored, but at the time vacant, buildings.
We set about potting up as many perennials as possible from our own gardens adding in a few bedding plants for colour as well, while others baked cookies and cakes. We advertised with a few posters and an ad on the local community channel for the mid-June event.
The day came and before the doors opened there was a gathering outside and within an hour every plant and baked item was sold. We made over $500 for our group and purchased six mature trees for key locations in the town’s historic core.
Since that time we have partnered with the Town of Bonavista to design and plant all flower beds within the community, as well as partnering with the Historic Bonavista Townscape Foundation to help design and plant a large public garden/park space.
This summer our group has also partnered again to buy some 55 trees and shrubs for the downtown core and harbourfront of Bonavista, selecting the best species for each environment and location. We are also preparing for our third annual plant and bake sale, to be held this year at Bonavista’s historic Orange Hall, adjacent to the new Bonavista Public Garden.
This year’s sale will be held on Saturday June 18 at 10 a.m. Once again we have a great selection of perennials, patio planters, tomato and pumpkin plants, as well as baked goods. All our plants are locally grown by our members and all funds go toward new initiatives of our group.
Over the last three summers I have proven, with the help of devoted members, that groups such as ours have a strong impact on communities. Our society links with other groups, provides beautification of our town’s environment and offers worthwhile activities and projects for our members to be involved with, making a big difference in Bonavista.
In my mind almost any town or community could create a group such as ours, as long as the interest and passion is there. A little idea has become a greater success then I had ever dreamed. There were naysayers along the way — ‘ there are few if any groups such as this outside of big cities,” I was told — yet today, the power of the flower is growing in Bonavista and to help foster its growth, support the Bonavista Horticultural Society this summer and make this town bloom.
New members are welcome!