If you are a 90s baby or younger – and grew up going to school in the Saint John region – there is a good chance you remember growing and planting marigolds as part of your spring curriculum. What started as an effort to brighten Main Street has grown into a Guinness World Record and annual tradition that has spread across the entire Saint John region.
“Watching the development and seeing the children take ownership of the project – from growing the seeds, caring for the marigolds, and then planting them has been the biggest reward,” said Barry Ogden, who initiated the idea in 1997.
Barry explained the concept sprouted from experiences he gained as a kid working at his family’s Motel on the West Side.
“The gardener that worked for the previous motel owners was retiring when my family purchased the business, and he instilled a love for gardening in me,” Barry explained. “I remembered him telling me that marigolds were very hardy flowers. I learned that if you dead head them they would multiply – so when I was thinking what we could plant to bring life back to Main Street – it was the first thing that came to mind.”
Twenty-five years later and the marigolds planted to brighten Main Street have blossomed throughout the city. The project has expanded beyond the elementary curriculum to high school students and artists through the development of murals to accompany the marigolds.
The Marigolds & Murals project has also showcased the community support that rallies behind initiatives like this in the Saint John region. The Marigolds & Murals project has encompassed:
- 80,000 volunteers
- Environmental awards
- 5 million marigolds planted
- 50 marigold gardens per year by 43 schools
- 168 Murals
The 2022 planting will take place from the last week of May until the middle of June.