ROCKY BAY: The Isle Madame Garden Club has some ambitious and beautiful plans.
The volunteer, non-profit group is promoting an “Early Bloom Daffodil Trail” for Isle Madame, with a goal to grow 10,000 daffodils around the island, according to club president Claire Doyle. To date, she said nearly 2,000 daffodil bulbs have been sold to residents, not-for-profit organizations and businesses.
“We were trying to come up with the idea of what we call an early bloom; starting the community up with something that would pop-up early to kind of get the community going,” Doyle told The Reporter.
After starting the project in 2018, Doyle said the club sold 450 bulbs, the next year they sold over 800. This year, she said they sold close to 700 bulbs.
The garden club said the daffodils will be visible from the road, are easy to grow, they are deer resistant, and will multiply over time.
“If people buy bulbs, and they buy a couple of packages of bulbs, and they plant them, in three or four years, that’s going to multiply, so their area is going to get bigger and bigger. And they’re beautiful,” she said. “The daffodils can bloom up to three weeks, and they’re one of the earliest. They start in April, they can go right through to mid-May, so that’s a great starter, and a picker-upper after winter.”
The club said its plan is to establish a daffodil trail roadmap for people who want to follow the trail.
“We decided that what we would do is also do a trail map. As people buy, if they’re willing to give us their civic address, we would include on the map where these daffodils are growing. At some point, when we have the trail big enough, people can actually go for drives and visit the trail,” Doyle stated. “It’s also tied into economic development. If we could grow enough daffodils on the island, people from off island would certainly come to look at the beautiful, beautiful early blooms.”
This year the Isle Madame Garden Club teamed up with the Vesey Seed fundraising program to purchase giant yellow trumpet daffodils for the daffodil trail project, Doyle said, noting that with every purchase, a percentage goes to the club.
“If the people would buy-in to purchasing daffodils, it helps the club too,” she stated. “We have a vision that we could put a lot of daffodils in those areas coming into the different points of the island.”
The group started formally in 2015 when avid gardener Mary Lou Daniels started a group and held meetings, Doyle recalled. Daniels met up with Ann England, and by 2017, England started the development of a garden at the Rocky Bay Irish Club, she said. That same year, she said the club became a registered organization.
“The group itself has been around for a long time, the garden club, and then it kind of grew, and then it died, over time. The garden club has been a movement here on the island for quite a few years,” Doyle said. “They started to have meetings at the hall to see if she could get some people involved in gardening.”
Doyle described England as “instrumental in getting people to the table.”
“Ann worked with the seniors and she did economic development, and did a lot of work for the Irish Club here,” Doyle said. “She was the driver behind our organization at the very beginning, getting us organized. She played a major role is helping us get established.”
Unfortunately, England was diagnosed with cancer and passed soon after. To see the garden project to completion, the club used a Celtic knot design, Doyle noted.
“She unfortunately died quite suddenly, she just started the club,” Doyle said. “She had a dream of having this beautiful garden built so Gail Hearn stepped up to the plate and built this garden in her memory. It turned out to be really quite beautiful.”
Before her death, England met Joanne Ford, who was part of the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs, and the local group decided to join the provincial organization.
“We paid membership into the provincial group then we were able to access a lot and be part of the greater garden clubs of Nova Scotia,” Doyle said. “We actually invited them here, and had meetings here, and had activities here with the bigger body in the province.”
Doyle thanked the Irish Club for their help getting the group off the ground.
“The Rocky Bay Irish Club was quite kind to the garden club. Because they built the garden here, they allowed us to make use of their facility,” she said. “We have regular meetings there, and we have tea parties, and we have all kinds of social events, and this is kind of the meeting place for the garden club so they were really quite generous in allowing us to make use of their property.”
Although they had a strong start, Doyle said the COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on the club over the past two years.
“This is the second season that we’re not really able to fully participate in garden tours, and do our annual meetings, and do our gatherings,” she said. “We do garden tours locally, but we also do garden tours out of town. We meet up with other gardeners that have beautiful gardens and they open up to clubs to do tours and that, so we’re hoping that’s going to happen again next year.”
Doyle added hopes the club will be able to hold an annual general meeting by November, then resume meeting by April.
To place orders by Sept. 26, the group can be contacted via Facebook on the “Isle Madame Garden Club” page, or by email at: email@example.com.