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Helpers: Meet Sudbury ‘flower couple’ Linda and Wayne Hugli

The passionate gardeners are mainstays of the Sudbury Horticultural Society
Linda and Wayne Hugli have been members of the Sudbury Horticultural Society for almost 25 years. She has been president three times. He has been president five times.

As members of the Sudbury Horticultural Society (SHS), retired educators Linda and Wayne Hugli play key roles as members of the club's executive.

Some people may call them a "power couple," but they might be just as happy to be known as the "flower couple."

Wayne is the current president of SHS and has filled this leadership role numerous times. Linda has served as president for three terms in the past and is the current membership committee chair, a volunteer job which required her to polish her social media skills.

Over the years, they have volunteered their time and talents to SHS projects such as the John Street Park, the Garden Festival, the summer garden tour, and VETAC's Ugliest Schoolyard Contest. There are monthly board meetings and hours of preparation for the membership meetings at the Parkside Centre.

The couple's tireless dedication to SHS, or as it is affectionaly called by members "the Hort Society," is truly admirable.

SHS is one of the oldest clubs in the city. It was established in 1911 and has more than 250 members and 3,500 Facebook followers. This year, 2022, is Year of the Garden.

Sunday afternoon monthly meetings with guest speakers were well attended before the COVID-19 pandemic. After a long hiatus, in-person meetings are once again being scheduled. The next meeting is Sunday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. Doors open at 1:15 p.m.

In the case of Wayne and Linda, opposites attract. She is bubbly and outgoing. He is a bit shy and more reserved. Wayne grew up in Coniston. The blackened landscape led to his interest in the environment and regreening efforts. He taught in Garson and in Sudbury before becoming media co-ordinator for the Rainbow District School Board.

He has volunteered as a Scout leader and was honoured by the Ontario Lieutenant-Governor with a lifetime achievement award for his volunteer work with Ontario Heritage Fair Association. He won a Community Builders Award (Environment) in 2016 for his involvement with VETAC and the Ugliest Schoolyard Contest.

Linda, originally from Niagara Falls, came to Sudbury, "for one year” 50 years ago and stayed.

Before retiring, she was the teacher/librarian at Cyril Varney Public School. The Huglis met while teaching library studies courses for Nipissing University and have been together for more than three decades. Their blended family includes three sons and seven grandchildren.

Their passion for gardening was ignited 31 years ago when they bought their Garson home. The yard was large but unattractive. The Huglis could see the potential.

"There was nothing but bedrock and fill back there. It was a mess. We started from scratch," says Linda, who has studied to become a master gardener. (She willingly shares her knowledge with novice gardeners like me.)

"Our passion (for gardening) just grew from there." 

They transformed their property into a private park with water gardens, hundreds of perennials and containers of colourful annuals – the result of hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of sweat and toil.

Linda joined SHS about 24 years ago. Wayne was recruited when the club needed a treasurer.

"We pretty well work together on everything," says Wayne. "People know when they ask us to volunteer, they are going to get two for (the price) of one," adds Linda.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer. Helpers is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.