Ashton's Garden Centre

Michael Ashton sits on a tree stump in the middle of a woodland daffodil walk he’s created and opening to the public this weekend. Originally from the U.K., Ashton misses the daffodils and has been working on the project for the past two years.

Thousands of daffodils are soon to bloom in woodlands in Tatamagouche.

Michael Ashton has spent the better part of the last two autumns planting thousands of daffodils and bluebells through the woods at Ashton’s Garden Centre on the Upper River John Road. Now, he’s opened the trail to the public for a one-of-a-kind experience.

“I originally wanted to start the daffodil walk because I miss the daffodils back in the U.K.,” said Ashton, about where he’s originally from. “We started in 2020. We started cutting out the woodlands with friends and put some daffodil bulbs in. They grew well.”

Since then, 5,000 daffodil bulbs have been planted in the woods, as well as 2,000 bluebells.

“Now there are at least 15 different varieties that we’ve planted.”

The walk winds its way through an old spruce plantation with hardwood trees and ferns. Ashton has been working hard at introducing a bit of fantasy stuff for families. Those strolling through the woods will find signs, arrows, selfie stations and places to take a rest. They’ll also learn about wildlife, flowers and the forest at the same time with numerous educational signs.

“We’re doing a lot of testing to see what works and what people like,” Ashton said, during a private event for invited guests. “It seems to be pretty successful so far.”

While the woodland daffodil walk was supposed to open last year, the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on things with opening day falling on the same day another lockdown was initiated. Instead, Ashton celebrated with a grand opening on May 7, which included a number of family events. 

The walk will be open every weekend in May, including Victoria Day, with the possibility of being extended into June.

Ashton says it all depends on how the daffodils are blooming.

“Once they bloom, they stay in bloom for about 15 weeks,” he said, noting many other flowers only bloom for a few days before dying.

Without stopping to enjoy the sights, the walk will take about 10 minutes through the woodlands. But for those who want to enjoy the experience, Ashton said it can take up to 45 to 60 minutes.

“There’s a lot to look at and we’re constantly trying to add to the environment,” he said. “That’s what I like, that you can develop things further.”

In total, Ashton estimated it took five people seven total days to plant the 7,000 bulbs over two autumn seasons.

“I’m sick of planting bulbs in the fall,” he said with a chuckle and slight smile. “It’s really hard work, especially in the woodlands because of all the tree roots and such. But it’s always worth it come spring. The daffodils and bluebells will come up every year.”

For those looking to plant flowers at home, Ashton says daffodils are deer and rabbit resistant.

“Even the squirrels and chipmunks won’t eat them. The deer will try, but they won’t eat them,” he said.

For more information on the daffodil walk, visit Ashton’s Garden Centre on Facebook. The centre and walk is located at 125 Upper River John Rd., Tatamagouche.

Editor

Raissa Tetanish has been a journalist for the past 15 years, and has spent four years as editor of both The Light and Hub Now. She joined the Pictou Advocate in April 2021.