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Exploring the sights, sounds and scents of horticulture

'The beauty and scent of flowers, along with fresh air and exercise, are nurturing for body and soul’

Master gardener Judith Rogers wasn’t quite sure what she and co-presenter Donna Wice of the Innisfil Historical Society were going to say at their April 20 talk in front of the Innisfil Garden Club.

Just that it was going to be about the multi-sensory experience of gardening: the sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes of Horticulture.

Then the meeting was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Public gathering places and community centres were closed, gatherings of more than five people banned, and not only the March meeting, but April and May events of the club have been put on hold.

Rogers, when contacted, was happy to share her thoughts, and some of her ideas for the presentation.

“Horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants,” she said. “Humans have five basic senses to experience these things, through touch, sight, sound, smell and taste.”

In Innisfil, where Rogers lives, the air is at times filled with the pungent smell of manure spread on fields – leading to fresh crop growth, and new life.

“We can visually reap the benefits, of buttery soy flowers, tall stalks of corn and sunflowers reaching for the sky, and grain crops that generate waves in pastures,” she said.

There are the sounds – of livestock on the farms, the echoes of coyotes howling at night, the buzzing of bees among the flowers, and birdsong in backyard gardens.

“Nature and wildlife play a big part in our gardens,” Rogers noted. “Deciduous and scented evergreens bring songbirds, chattering squirrels,” as well as producing oxygen.

Water features also attract wildlife, and “offer cascading or tinkling tranquility.”

The touch of fuzzy leaved plants, the scent of aromatic herbs and flowers – even that wonderful smell, “petrichor,” of rain on dry earth – it’s all part of the experience of gardening and horticulture, Rogers said, creating magical moments.

“Imagine a breath-taking view you have seen, an adorable wildlife encounter, children in a garden or simply a serendipitous finding,” she said. “Gardening is a therapeutic pastime; the beauty and scent of flowers along with fresh air and exercise are nurturing for our body and soul.”

Something to think about, at a time of social distancing and COVID-19 fears.

Wice, when contacted, said that she had intended to leave the serious parts of the talk to Rogers, as a Master Gardener, and instead provide a comic counterpoint, highlighting some of her own personal experiences.

Using photos from her travels and her own backyard, Wice planned to talk about a visually delightful square in Italy somewhat spoiled by the olfactory challenge of dog poop; and plants like bamboo and goutweed – once planted for their visual “interest” in the garden, and fought ever since as annoying invaders.

It would have been a multi-sensory exploration of horticulture. Garden club members can only hope that it will be rescheduled, at a later date.

With the continuing uncertainty and the continued spread of COVID-19, the Innisfil Garden Club has cancelled April and May meetings, including the Spring Flower Show originally planned for May 16, and the annual Arboretum Tailgate, Plant and Bake Sale on May 30.    

Members are being encouraged to share photos and gardening news, however – online and on Facebook

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Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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