Nova Scotia

Flowers standing tall in Dartmouth's Daffodil Garden for Cancer Survivors

When Judie Edgar developed breast cancer in 2003, she was inspired by gardens for survivors in Ontario. After she and her husband moved back home to Nova Scotia, she was determined to bring a place of comfort, hope and strength to the province.

6,600 daffodils, representing the strength of people touched by cancer, are flowering for the first time

Jennifer Brenton DeCoste snapped this photo of her son, Bren, at the garden. In her Facebook caption, Jennifer said: 'A special place in our community to make the best of a lockdown day.' (Facebook)

The Daffodil Garden for Cancer Survivors in Dartmouth, N.S., is in full bloom with thousands of bright yellow flowers popping for the first time since the space opened last year.

About 6,600 bulbs were planted last fall around the statues, benches and concrete paths that express messages of comfort, power and inspiration for survivors.

Daffodils are symbols strength, courage and hope for those living with cancer.

The flowers started standing tall during April — Cancer Awareness Month in Canada — and are still going strong.

That is much to the delight of Judie Edgar, who created the garden with her husband, Jim. The Cole Harbour residents are both cancer survivors.

"It looks pretty nice, we keep getting all these beautiful pictures back," she said of the photos that show people smiling proudly, embracing the moment, and reflecting in the flowering garden.

Judie Edgar says the garden 'can be anything you want it to be.' (Facebook)

Edgar was living in Mississauga, Ont., when she developed breast cancer in 2003.

"There was a great cancer survivors park that I went to quite a bit and when I was diagnosed the second time when we moved back home, I thought why shouldn't we have the same special place," she said in an interview.

It took two and a half years of work and $73,000 to build the garden. The couple raised money online and received grants from CN Rail, the provincial government and 11 city councillors.

Construction started in July 2020 and it opened last September. 

It's located on the waterfront in downtown Dartmouth and is intended to be a space for anyone touched by cancer.

"We consider cancer survivors not only people who have the disease but it's their family, their friends, their co-workers and even their medical team because they walk that journey with the survivors," she said.

There is a bench inscribed with the message, 'The beauty of life after cancer is worth fighting for.' Someone left a rock there. It is hand-painted with a pink ribbon, the symbol of breast cancer awareness.

Edgar wants it to be a place that meets people wherever they are.

The Edgars say they're grateful to the community for their support. (Alex Cooke/CBC)

"It can be anything you want it to be, you know, be reflective, to be joyful, to be happy. You know, we want this garden to be for everybody," she said.

A place to connect during troubled times

A couple of weeks ago, this public place served as an intimate spot to connect two loved ones coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis, but who are separated because of pandemic restrictions.

"That particular day they decided to take a walk and they came across the garden. They walked to the garden and looked at the daffodil-yellow benches, the inspirational quotes," said Edgar.

"They FaceTimed with their family member in the States, so they both share that special first visit to the garden together."

The visitor to the garden told Edgar how much the space brightened their day, and "they certainly made mine," she said.

Her goal is to eventually fill the entire green space with the cheery daffodils, from the Ferry Terminal Park, where the garden is located, all the way to ferry terminal building.

She's hoping volunteers and businesses will help fulfil her wish by donating bulbs and labour in the garden this fall.

The garden is located at 94 Alderney Drive on the Dartmouth waterfront. (Louise Gray)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Chiu is a reporter in Nova Scotia and hosts Atlantic Tonight on Saturdays at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. If you have a story idea for her, contact her at elizabeth.chiu@cbc.ca.

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