March 2019 – Caroline O’Connor
March 2019 – Caroline O’Connor
In the Pink
If the mosquitoes aren’t too pesky, Caroline O’Connor loves to putter about in the garden. For years, when she lived in Hudson, Quebec, she spent long hours in her small, cottage-style garden filled with pink peonies, bleeding hearts and leafy foliage of differing shapes and textures. “I seem to be attracted to plants that move in the wind,” she says. “Pink, mauve and white are my favorite colors.”
Later, she joined the Hudson Garden Club. She learned to differentiate flowers from weeds. Her garden skills were honed when she was hired to work two summers for a local landscaping business. Rain or shine, she had a job to do. She was part of a hard-working team that helped to maintain some of the lovely old family properties around Hudson. Her gardening skills grew like wildflowers.
However, her life changed dramatically in the spring of 2016 when she moved to Ottawa. She rented an apartment with just a small balcony. Her garden was a thing of the past. It was then that she learned about the Friends of the Central Experimental Farm and decided right away to become one. A few months later, in June, she was out weeding with a new team in the perennial beds at the Farm, happy to be gardening again and meeting new friends.
She lives close enough to the Farm that she can sometimes bike to events there, a lovely ride on a warm spring or summer day that takes her along the meandering bike trail by the Ottawa River and through the dappled shade of the tree-lined Arboretum. “Those wonderful trees are quite spectacular,” she muses.
Truth is, whether tending the ornamental gardens or at the many events organized by the Friends, she’s tinkled pink when she volunteers at the Farm. Each year, she loves pulling the delicate old china cups and saucers with their varied floral designs out of the cardboard boxes where they’re stored, getting them matched and ready for service at the Victorian Tea.
She also enjoys helping out whenever she can with the Friends’ book sale and volunteering for Bug Day—a celebration of insect life organized by the Entomological Society of Ontario, held annually at the Farm and a big hit with kids of all ages. Even though her life is busy working part-time, she hopes someday to be able to spend even more time at the Farm. Volunteering brings her joy. Beyond the pleasure of enjoying the bucolic surroundings, she likes to feel that she is contributing her skills, giving back, learning and being part of a team.
Finally, she mentions in passing that her life is about to get even busier this year. Proudly, she announces that she’s expecting to become a grandmother for the first time soon, not just once but twice by year’s end. She can think of nothing better than to bring her family someday to the Farm to run and play and join in the many kid-friendly activities there. Pink or blue—girls or boys—it makes no matter, really. She’s just happy to be a new granny able to spend time volunteering there and watching her grandchildren grow up.
By Julianne Labreche
Photo by Polly McColl