Art and Gardening on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore

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If you’re looking for a relaxed day of exploring coastal communities throughout the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve you won’t run out of things to do and look at.

The Southern Avalon coastal communities of Mobile, Bauline, Tors Cove, Witless Bay, and Bay Bulls border the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve and are set before an ocean backdrop like no other.

This area is popular with adventure seekers and wildlife enthusiasts in search of world-class East Coast Trail hiking on the Tinker’s Point and Beaches Path. The shores along Mobile Bay are popular with humpback whales feeding in the capelin rich waters and rare seabirds like Atlantic Puffins can be seen everywhere.

Traditional Newfoundland coastal gardens dot the landscape, and folk art seems to be on display on every corner. 

Traditional Newfoundland Gardens

Traditional Newfoundland fences encircle gardens, their woven wooden fences gently cradling young plants setting their roots.

Raised beds of various designs are perched oriented to the sun, and you can always see someone working in the garden.

Traditional Newfoundland crops like potatoes, turnip, and cabbage are now being planted and soon it will be time to harvest rapeseed greens.

Gardening in Newfoundland, however, isn’t limited to blue potatoes and hearty root crops stereotypical of a Newfoundland garden. Here on the Southern Avalon Peninsula, adventurous gardeners have success growing everything from Asian greens to morel mushrooms.

Newfoundland is full of micro-climates, each one producing its own set of challenges and opportunities for the Newfoundland gardener. When it comes to gardening here in Newfoundland, nothing beats local knowledge. 

You'll find some ingenious way to grow you when you look across the fence
Taking advantage of local resources this low traditional Newfoundland wattle fence is made from recently cleared brush

Newfoundland Greenhouses and Green Thumbs

Greenhouses and cold frames are more popular than ever, and having one is a great advantage for the Newfoundland gardener.

In Newfoundland, Greenhouses are a great way to start off early. For a coastal gardener, access to a greenhouse enables them to do everything from growing salads while the snow is still on the ground to act as their own plant nursery.

The Greenhouse in Newfoundland also gives a safe haven to more sensitive plants like basil and tomatoes, providing both shelter and additional heat units to whatever is grown inside. 

Growing greens in Newfoundland
The Whale House Greenhouse has been in full swing since April and now provides daily harvests of spinach and mixed greens

Tors Cove Geodesic Dome Greenhouse

Greenhouses and cold frames can be all shapes and sizes, everything from a small cold frame made of a reclaimed window and scrap wood to an elaborate Geodesic Dome Greenhouse. If you like unique and exciting greenhouse designs, be sure to visit the old school house in Tors Cove and take a look at their Geodesic dome greenhouse and traditional Newfoundland wattle fencing. 

The building of the Tors Cove Geodesic Dome Greenhouse (as of June, 2020)

Newfoundland Folk Art Everywhere

You’ll find art on every corner. Not all of it is for sale. In fact, the best pieces are gems incorporated into homes, gardens, and boutique hotels throughout the five ecological reserve communities of Mobile, Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, Tors Cove, and Bauline.

One of the most attractive elements of Newfoundland Folk Art is its joining of utility and function with the natural environment. A great example of this is the driftwood reliefs made by Captain Wayne from Captain Wayne’s Marine Excursions. These pieces are figurative and sculptural, made entirely of driftwood.

Does the design come from the artist or is the artist’s inspiration and hand directed by the driftwood they find? The only way to find out is to ask Captain Wayne yourself.

Traditional Newfoundland driftwood folk art made by Captain Wayne from Captain Wayne's Marine Excursions
Traditional Newfoundland driftwood folk art made by Captain Wayne from Captain Wayne’s Marine Excursions 

If you’re looking for a private viewing in an intimate setting The Blue Whale Hot Tub Suite at Whale House Guest House Boutique Hotel features in suite rotating fine art exhibits of sculptures and paintings from international artists, a great way to take it all in at your own pace.  

Other great folk art gems can be found along the coastal strip in Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, Mobile, Tors Cove, and Bauline. You can explore these communities along with their folk art and traditional Newfoundland gardens with a relaxed coastal drive, bike ride, stroll, or any combination thereof. The most popular East Coast Trails are also found right here in the Ecological Reserve and link all five communities via the East Coast Trail like the famous Tinkers Point Path and Beaches Path. 

Have you recently been inspired or otherwise impressed by a traditional Newfoundland Garden or a local folk art piece? Let us know what you liked best in the comments below. 

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About Us

Whale House Guest House offers luxury boutique private suites with outdoor hot tubs overlooking humpback whale feeding grounds. Located next to the east coast trail in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, just 30 min from downtown St. John’s.

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