SHERRY MULLEY MACDONALD: Celebrating the Beauty of Community Gardening

Gardening is a popular activity in warm weather. As well as offering enthusiasts the opportunity to see the fruits of their labor, for many being in the garden provides a time to relax and focus on the beauty that surrounds them.

In Canada, 2022 has been designated the year of the garden. A time dedicated to encouraging people to celebrate nature by planting, growing and enjoying the outdoors and gardening in general.

In Cape Breton, June 18 has been declared Garden Day and 100 years of gardening will be celebrated.

Whether preparing the ground, removing weeds or growing flowers, gardeners have their own reasons to get their hands dirty.

Dona Benac is no stranger to the garden scene here on the island. She is president of the North Sydney Garden Club.

She said gardening provides countless hours of fun and relaxation.

“There are so many benefits to getting out in the garden, preparing the soil and tending to the plants,” Benac said. “Even though I have spent many years gardening, I still look forward to the time when I can roll up my sleeves and get to work. It never gets old for me.

“We are fortunate here in the Northside to have a dedicated group of members who look forward to working on projects that will make the community look better during the warmer months of the year.”

Over the years, members of the North Sydney Garden Club have planted hundreds of trees and held workshops on wreath making and flower arranging. Annual flower shows have been suspended until COVID-19 hits. Members hope to resume these activities soon.

The North Sydney Club fundraising plant sale takes place in the spring and allows members to contribute to the Christmas dinner fund at the area food bank as well as providing gift bags to residents of Talbot House in Christmas.

Benac said members of the North Sydney club were looking forward to this year’s Garden Day event. She said it is a combined effort from the Cape Breton District.

As well as the North Sydney Garden Club here on the island, there are clubs in Westmount, Inverness and Isle Madame. The clubs form the Cape Breton District of the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs. Every club enjoys a membership that is eager to do its part.

Clubs participate in their own project within their community. All projects are highly visible and designed to add beauty to an area.

“The main public project our club is involved in is the Field of Hope at the triangle near the lights as you enter North Sydney. It was created years ago and was inspired by the cancer association’s daffodil campaign,” Benac said.

Members of the island’s garden clubs are eagerly awaiting this year’s Garden Day event on Saturday. This is a combined effort of the Cape Breton District.

Clubs in the Cape Breton District are organizing activities to celebrate 100 years of gardening. Gardening enthusiasts and members of the public are invited to gather at the Sydney-Riverview Y Service Club on Westmount Road to celebrate.

There will be exhibits and information on a variety of gardening topics. In addition, several interactive demonstrations on several gardening topics, including succulents, orchids, kindergartens and others will be offered.

The events take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Free entry. There will be gifts and tea and cakes will be offered.

Members of gardening clubs all over the island encourage those interested in gardening to join a club in their area.

“Gardening is a wonderful activity and being part of a club gives people the opportunity to share similar activities in a very welcoming environment. We are very sociable and often go on garden tours together,” Benac said.

More information about the Year of the Garden is available online at

Sherry Mulley MacDonald is a freelance writer and journalist. She is a lifelong Northside resident with a fondness for the community in which she lives.