Horticultural society announces Petunia Garden winners

Mary McDonald showing off the award at St. John's Church a proud business/organizational winner in the Petunia Garden Competition held in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Gananoque Horticultural Society. Supplied by Joan MacKinnon jpg, KI

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In spite of a pandemic, that is crippling economies and societies throughout the world, the Gananoque Horticultural Society is pleased to have celebrated a very successful 100th anniversary.

“The petunia is both the flower of the Horticultural Society and has been the town emblem since 1963, so it seemed very appropriate to encourage gardeners to plant petunias for our 100th anniversary,” Joan MacKinnon, of the Gananoque Horticultural Society, said. “We considered over 30 private gardens and about 10 business/town/church gardens.”

MacKinnon made a point of going up and down every street in the town, looking at gardens and taking photographs of every garden that she thought the committee should take into consideration.

“Since we could only see into people’s front, and sometimes side yards, the petunia gardens had to be visible from the street,” she said. “We ended up awarding more gardens than we initially intended because we felt that there were so many deserving of attention.”

With so many beautiful gardens to enjoy, the Society decided to increase the number of awards from the originally planned twelve to 24 with 18 in the private garden category and six business/town/church gardens.

“In addition to actual gardens, we looked at houses with hanging baskets and planters full of petunias, and included the best of those in our competition,” she said. “In each of July, August and September, we gave out six awards to private gardens, and two to gardens owned by businesses, the Town or local churches. Each executive member on our board voted for their top six favourite private gardens and top two business/church/town gardens. I tabulated the results and then several of us went around making the awards.”

Participants purchased their petunias from a variety of sources, but it was the actual presentation of the plants and skill of the individual gardeners that made each display unique. From simple planters to lavish beds, each had its own value and was a much-appreciated act of neighbourhood beautification.

“There were gardens selected all over town,” said MacKinnon. “The highest number were on John Street, with four winners.

“Gardeners were thrilled to have their hard work recognized. We could have given out awards for just about every town garden, which were fantastic this year.  In the end, we chose the new garden in front of the Susan Push train engine for the award.”

The committee was hard-pressed to choose between all of the amazing gardens this year. The conditions seemed to be perfect for petunias, and the pandemic gave people more time than usual to devote to working with their plants.

“The most outstanding garden was that of Chris and Lucille McDonald on John Street, where the front semicircular garden was planted almost solidly with Surfinia and Wave petunias,” said MacKinnon. “It has been looking fantastic since June. Other notable gardens were those of Colleen MacNeill on Garfield Street, which included petunias set into nooks on a rocky hill beside the house, Wanda Monks on Elizabeth Drive, and Reg Hill on North Street. In addition, the garden by the Susan Push is absolutely vibrant with two shades of Surfinia petunias. The petunias at the Boat Museum were also spectacular.

“Most winners were very surprised, and pretty well everyone seemed to be delighted.  The signs are showing up in people’s gardens all over town.”

Business and organization winners included St. John’s Church, Laverne’s, the Old English Pub and the Arts and Crafts collective on King Street.

“It was really interesting to see what showed up well, and how the gardens evolved as the summer went on,” she said. “We added new gardens to the mix of those being considered each month. I found that pink petunias showed up the best, while it was harder to see petunias in shades of purple, even when the gardens were lovely. One garden selected had window boxes with striped red and white petunias, and they showed well. The town planted some of their gardens with a mix of darker pink Vista Fuchsia Surfinia Petunias, and Bubblegum Surfinia petunias. The mix looked great but eventually, the Bubblegum Surfinia petunias took over and the gardens became pretty much one bright pink colour.”

The society is very grateful for the local participation in celebrating their centennial. They are more than happy to see so many gardeners in town, and would like people to know that they are always ready to welcome new members.

In addition, people can get gardening advice and inspiration by going to their youtube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCkF3jEb-PPCAVmpo1WcUXJQ.

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