Meet the Mayor
August 8, 2013
“Hyacinths to feed thy soul,” said the ancient poet, are equally important as food to nourish the body. So, if you have lost everything else and have but two loaves of bread to your name, sell one and buy those hyacinths. Chetwynd’s beautiful gardens that we are celebrating this season provide nourishment for soul and body, for the whole person, and remind us that life is more than a job and a pay check, vital as they are to our existence. I was one of the judges privileged to tour Chetwynd’s gardens last week and, of course, to judge – a most challenging and rewarding assignment.
And tiring, too.
Chetwynd’s gardens are works of art though some of them tend more to the utilitarian, and the pride of the gardeners in their work is so delightfully stimulating. It feels as though I am stepping on hallowed ground to walk where soil and sun meet rain and seed in prolific production. And, in a sense, I am walking on hallowed ground since the Creator of earth and sky is cooperating with human agents to produce abundantly those hyacinths and loaves.
I and my judging partner, Erin Sale from CHET Radio, began our delightful assignment in a rural garden way out Jackfish Road. This was truly a WOW! experience. Potatoes, onions, beets, beans, peas, lovingly tended and in prolific production with a close-in backdrop of dense forest positioned perfectly for maximum protection while allowing optimum exposure to the stimulating rays of the sun. I could have basked there all day without a care except that it was raining and other gardens called.
The next experience presented itself very differently. Wide vistas greeted us as the gardeners proudly showed their trees, blossoms, eatables, and horses all artistically laid out in eye-pleasing array. Gardening does something to people. It gets them in touch with life, with earth and water and sun and shade, in ways that others are not experiencing. All this becomes increasingly obvious as we continue our tour in town.
In-town gardens present flavours different from those we experienced in the country. In-town gardeners, while producing some vegetables, tend to devote their love of the soil more to color and arrangement of varieties than to vegetable production for winter use. Given the restricted space available in town, that is to be expected.
Naturally, some gardens stand out more vividly in memory than others. One slim gardener described how she dug out and removed the hard clay earth with shovel and wheel barrow to a depth of 2.5 feet (70 centimetres) and replaced it with black soil as a base before arranging her blooms in loving artistry. Others scattered gnomes throughout their gardens giving the sense of alternate life forms inhabiting the foliage to come out and romp in the moonlight. One gardener enclosed the entire back of his yard in retractable covers to protect his investment in seeds from the early frosts and to promote rapid growth – successfully.
And what more can I say about youthful gardeners in the dawn of a lifetime of growth, of older gardeners displaying a lifetime of experience and of those between? Chetwynd has them all, and all will be honored at the grand celebrations of Beautiful Gardens in Chetwynd. Mark your calendar: Recreation Centre; six o’clock; August 11.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor