Rat Creek Press Home & Garden Tours is a series that highlights the beautiful spaces in our neighbourhoods and talks about the different ways we find value in and around this area, from the perspective of our living spaces.
We aim to showcase different types of spaces, including single family homes, townhouses, apartments, garden suites, and small space and balcony gardens. We also would like to create a diverse picture of our residents and their families, including families with and without kids, couples and singles, all kinds of cultural backgrounds, 2SLGBTQIA+, youth, seniors, and more.
This is a year-round column, and we are already fully booked with summer gardens. If you’re interested in sharing about your home, or if you have or know of a garden with fall/winter features, I’d love to know more. All submissions are welcome and encouraged!
To submit, please send an email to Christina at: [email protected].
In Foster’s garden, she focuses on growing her own food and increasing food security within a modest urban lot. She worked with garden designer, Naomi Pahl, to turn her former front lawn into a low maintenance, water-conserving mix of perennials and edibles. During last year’s heatwave, Foster’s deep mulch kept her garden beds cool and moist.
Age of home: 53 years — built in 1969
How long have you lived in your home? Five years.
What are three words to describe your garden? Chaotic, cozy abundance.
A perfect day in your garden: A sunny but cool afternoon with no wind, just lounging on the deck listening to all of the birds. Maybe with a mimosa.
Favourite time of year in the garden: The end of May, when things start coming up, and I make the rounds every evening to see what has come back to life and if I can remember what anything is.
What are you loving about your garden right now? How effortlessly accomplished a bunch of perennials can make me feel!
What are some challenges you’re experiencing? Creeping bellflower and all of the neighbourhood cats using the mulch as a litter box.
How does your garden inspire you? By experimenting with new things and learning what works or doesn’t work in the garden.
Where do you see your garden in five years? Hopefully with much more production from fruit trees and bushes, an irrigation system for veggies, and maybe a small chicken coop.
Best thing you’ve learned while living here? Learning to let go of the idea of perfection and focus on the trial and error as part of the whole experience and fun of gardening.
What’s the best gardening advice you’ve ever received? Mulch everything!
Best compliment you’ve received about your garden? It looks like a retired person lives here.
What would you like to see more of in the community? Community garden activities like tours, veggie shares, seed swaps.
What is your favourite local resource? Greenland Garden Centre.
A few words of advice? Experiment with what works for your yard, find someone who will share some perennials, and shop end of season sales at the garden centres!
Mawer’s playful garden is full of colourful surprises. Gnomes, birds, bugs, and more are tucked into her front flower beds amongst the perennials. She is planning to expand her garden beds in her backyard to include more vegetables and fruits.
Age of home: About 60 years.
How long have you lived in your home? Five years.
What are three words to describe your garden? Eclectic, controlled wildness.
A perfect day in your garden: Walking around, checking out what is blooming, what is struggling. I pull weeds or dead head as I go. After the tour, I decide what needs tending, such as putting in new plants, more extensive weeding, pruning, mowing, etc. Once all the work is done, I love to sit in the back in my gravity chair to read. As I’m reading, I usually get distracted by my animals, or the birds flitting in and out of the birdhouses on my garage, or by the beautiful prairie sky. I’ll usually end up having a little nap as well.
Favourite time of year in your garden: May/June. I love spring and watching everything return. The various shades of green. Seeing items that I wasn’t sure would make it return.
What are some challenges you’re experiencing? Carrots aren’t coming up and lily beetles. After years of fighting, I finally took out my lilies.
How does your garden inspire you? I’m not much of an outdoorsy person. I don’t like to just sit around, so my garden gets me out and doing things and actually enjoying the short summers we have.
Where do you see your garden in five years? I am adding a space in the back for more vegetables. Last year I put vines, gooseberries, and haskap berries along the side fence. I expect they will be quite something in five years. I’m also hoping to add a little library and seed exchange box to my front yard.
Best thing you’ve learned while living in the community? The residents are great. I’ve been given so many plants and now am able to return the favour.
What’s the best gardening advice you’ve ever received? Give plants lots of water, especially in pots as they dry out so fast. I also tend to get too excited and plant too early, so I’ve slowly been listening to the “plant after the May long weekend” advice.
Best compliment you’ve received about your garden? I’ve received four Front Yards in Bloom nominations. I also get many people stopping to talk to me and compliment my yard as they walk by.
A few words of advice? Experiment, try, have fun! And look at the care tags. Know if your space is shade or sun and choose accordingly. It really does make a difference.
Did you work with a contractor or local business to design your garden? Not at all. I’m not a planner so I fly by the seat of my pants most of the time. “OOOO this is pretty…. Now, where can I put it?”