Bonnie Studdiford tends to a persimmon tree near her home on Bunganuc Road. on July 13, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Locals can get out and smell the roses while helping uninsured Mainers and asylum seekers access essential healthcare services, thanks to an upcoming fundraiser hosted by a Brunswick nonprofit.

More than a dozen gardens will participate in Oasis Free Clinics’ first Brunswick in Bloom event Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., according to Anita Ruff, the organization’s executive director. Registrants will enjoy a diverse selection of plant life in colorful flower gardens, orchards and a hops farm.

“Some of these gardens have been in progress for 40 years,” Ruff said. “They’re just spectacular.”

Bonnie Studdiford, who has been tending her home garden since 1999, will show guests her expansive collection of rare flowers and trees. Flanked by her dog Sofia, she spends an average of two hours each day caring for her Korean willow, Carolina silverbells, full moon maple and dozens of other plants.

“We have some really unusual things,” Studdiford said. “The more unusual the better.”

A weeping larch grows in Bonnie Studdiford’s garden on July 13, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Studdiford isn’t alone in her passion from gardening. Jane Donelon, whose home garden on Greenleaf Street features a “hummingbird area” and a “wildflower circle,” has passed her green thumb onto her son Jim Herlihy and her daughter Jean Herlihy, who will also have a stop on the tour.


“We always talk gardens,” Donelon said. “It’s definitely the best bonding that I can imagine. We’re all rather crazed.”

Attendees will pick up their garden maps between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. at Oasis Free Clinics on Baribeau Dr. and drive or bike between each garden. Tickets, which Ruff expects to sell out in short order, cost $35 in advance or $45 on Saturday.

Oasis, which provides free health care services to uninsured, low-income adults, has needed to creatively pivot from its traditional fundraisers since the beginning of the pandemic, Ruff told The Times Record in February. Virtual cooking classes proved a safe and effective way to bring in donations during the winter, while Saturday’s outdoor garden tour will give attendees an excuse to enjoy the sunshine.

The clinic, staffed by a few paid health professionals and a handful more volunteers, has offered treatment to more than 400 Maine adults this year, Ruff said. In addition, Oasis staff now travel to two Freeport hotels twice a week, where they have provided care to over 80 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

Despite some logistical challenges, including the language barrier and occasionally awkward amenities (Oasis providers initially saw patients in a hotel bar), the organization was quick to accept the call for help from the city of Portland and Freeport Community Services, said Sarah Lundin, executive director of the latter group.

“Oasis from the very beginning was just a very active, engaged partner,” Lundin said. “They do so much more than just provide the medical care. They also form relationships with these families and individuals. It’s really incredible.”

Jane Donelon stands outside her Greenleaf St. home on July 13, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

For gardeners like Donelon, who is always eager to share her work, a good cause just makes the flowers smell sweeter.

“I am a definite believer in universal health care,” Donelon said. “I’m very happy to support Oasis in this way.”

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