In Susan Boyd’s Bedford backyard there are 150 varieties of rhododendrons.
“It’s very peaceful walking out there,” she says, “and as silly as it sounds, getting out and getting your hands dirty and helping grow your own piece of nature.”
That love of gardening inspired her to join the Bedford Horticulture Society in 2002. Now she serves as its president. Its mandate, says Boyd, is to beautify Bedford, encourage a love of gardening and educate others about horticulture.
There are currently 65 members, who all meet each month at the Bedford Leisure Club at the Bedford Legion. There, they talk gardening, of course, and hear speakers sharing their knowledge. One month’s meeting might include a talk from an expert on a particular species of flower. During another meeting, a member might share their own stories of visiting gardens on their travels around the world.
“Some people are so knowledgeable,” Boyd says. “It’s so inspiring.”
The Society was first founded in 1950 when a group of gardeners met at the home of B.C. Silver to hear a talk on garden soils given by Nick Jankov, a landscape advisor who worked for the province. That talk led the attendees to start the Bedford Flower Club. Now almost 75 years later and with the new name, the group is still going strong, and is one of the oldest horticultural societies in the country.
But beyond the love of gardening, the Society provides a social outlet for people who all happen to love the subject matter. “I think, in fact, a lot of people come for that,” says Dawson Miller, the society’s secretary who’s been with the group for 12 years (the group specialist on orchids).
During May’s meeting, there is a tea party to coincide with Victoria Day. That includes a posy competition with judges awarding prizes to the best entries. Just before Christmas, they host a potluck dinner for members. This year, the Society is hosting a lunch for the horticultural societies in the HRM. It’s on April 26 and includes lunch, speakers and vendors. In warmer months, the group takes part in garden tours around the community, and even road trips to the Annapolis Valley.
Together, they give back to Bedford—projects include creating the Remembrance Day poppy arrangement at the Fish Hatchery Park, planting and maintaining the flowerbeds at the Brookside Cemetery, and supporting Scott Manor House. They also host an annual plant sale each May that attracts dozens of gardening enthusiasts looking for new plants for their yards and gardens. This year’s event is on May 24.
The Society also awards a $1,000 scholarship to a second-year student from Bedford, Sackville or Waverly enrolled in the horticulture or environmental studies programs at Dalhousie. The Society is always looking for new members. “Come for the joy of gardening, the friendliness and to learn,” says Boyd.