Garden club growing with the changing times

Community COVID-19 Featured Shine On

The Pictou and Area Garden Club has turned buds into blooms, literally.

The club’s annual plant sale is a major fundraiser for the group.

Once a year every year, the members bring in plants and slips from their own gardens, re-pot them and sell them. The funds generated are used to purchase the materials needed to put a smile on the faces of the residents of the Northumberland Veteran’s Unit by beautifying the property, to help the Town of Pictou purchase the colourful flowers for the baskets that are hung around town each year, and to purchase soil and annuals and such for the Scammell Garden and the garden in front of the deCoste Performing Arts Centre. Also, the Pictou and Area Garden Club annually provides a $100 bursary to a student at Pictou Academy and another $100 bursary to a student at Northumberland Regional High School. All of this good work in the community is made possible from the proceeds of the annual plant sale.

This year, the plant sale was in jeopardy due to the physical distancing requirements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the garden club members didn’t let the public health restrictions slow them down; they ‘virtually’ changed the format of the plant sale and held a virtual plant sale.

It was a smashing success and one they hope to grow in the future.

“Normally, we raise anywhere from $900 to as much as $1,400,” said member Beth Henderson. “This year, we raised more than $2,341. And all of that allows us to continue the good work we do in the community.”

Dawn Westhaver explained, “We listed all of the plants that were available on our Facebook page (Pictou and Area Garden Club) and anyone interested sent us an email telling us what they wanted to purchase. It was on a first-come first served-basis.”

There were plenty of plants available this year, as in past years, since members contribute from their own gardens. Also helping out this year was a generous donation from former member Nancy Clarke whom, Westhaver praised, “donated the bulk of the plants.”

Despite the plethora of plants available this year, the club still ran out — as is the norm.

On the day of the sale, members donned personal protective face masks, which had been donated by another garden club member, set up a work site where they were able to stand at least six feet or two metres apart, and got down to the business of making sure customers were able to safely pick up their purchases. The club even staggered the dates and times for plant pickups to maintain safety.

Westhaver chuckled, “We knew we were working within the public health safety guidelines because we had some medical staff around who commended us.”

The garden club members had many positive comments from people about holding the sale online.

“Non-gardeners loved it because they read what we had available on the list, then they were able to go look it up and see what it actually was, so they knew what they were buying.”

In past years when the club holds the sale, the plants are sorted according to spring, summer, fall, trees and shrubs and food, but since the plants aren’t usually in bloom, it can be difficult to know what you are getting. “It’s a swarm and people are just trying to get whatever they can. So this new format made it a lot better for the customers. And people really loved the ability to use e-transfer,” so cash was handled at a minimum.

New members are always welcome to join the Pictou and Area Garden Club. “And dues are just $10 per year,” Westhaver pointed out. To see what they’re all about, visit them on Facebook or check out their website,

Pictou and Area Garden Club members assemble orders for their online plant sale.