In­spired by na­ture, this cre­ative cou­ple’s ideas for the gar­den have cre­ated an oa­sis for na­tive species and birds

Canadian Wildlife - - CONTENTS - By Mireille Bour­ret

Re-cre­at­ing Na­ture: For two Que­bec gar­den­ers, their cre­ativ­ity and in­spi­ra­tion mean ideas for the gar­den are boun­ti­ful

It all started for Nathalie Marois when, in­trigued by some co-work­ers’ oc­ca­sional plant ex­changes, she de­cided to par­tic­i­pate. “That was the nudge,” she says now. In­spired, she be­gan tak­ing cour­ses at the lo­cal rec cen­tre, and just a few years later, she had com­pletely trans­formed the land­scape of her gar­den. “I had ab­so­lutely noth­ing at the be­gin­ning,” she says. “I cre­ated my own roots.”

When even­tu­ally she moved to a new house with her part­ner, Serge Pivin, she brought her new­found pas­sion for gar­den­ing with her. Just as well, as their new back­yard, 16 by 30 me­tres, had only a crabap­ple tree and grass. To­gether, Marois and Pivin con­ceived of a new plan for the yard, in­spired by the won­der and love of liv­ing things. “Both of us are in­spired by na­ture, and both of us have cre­ative sides, so ideas for our gar­den abound.”

With full south­ern ex­po­sure and lit­tle cover, heat could be un­bear­able in the sum­mer, so they de­cided to cre­ate a glade-like en­vi­ron­ment. They in­tro­duced many trees and shrubs, in­clud­ing three var­ie­gated maples and a Ja­pa­nese maple, to go along with the crabap­ple. They planted 10 dif­fer­ent shrubs (among them li­lac, yew, weigela) and added a hun­dred peren­ni­als and bulbs, rang­ing from snow­drop to chrysan­the­mums. “Our gar­den blooms through­out the sea­son!” Marois says.

To at­tract winged wildlife, Marois and Pivin added a bath and a feeder, and each year they al­low the echi­nacea to go to seed to of­fer an­other food source. As a re­sult, they are vis­ited by count­less birds, in­clud­ing car­di­nals and goldfinches. “Ev­ery spring, blue jays come to visit. They perch on poles and call out un­til we feed them peanuts,” says Marois. “And at sum­mer’s end, a small wood­pecker comes to sleep in our bird­house.” Birds that want to nest are al­ways wel­come. A lit­tle white-tailed rab­bit also shows up from time to time.

Marois and Pivin take an eco­log­i­cal ap­proach: they don’t use any chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and they com­post. “In the fall, we pick up the fo­liage to avoid fun­gal dis­eases.” They won’t use in­sec­ti­cide but will use boil­ing wa­ter when bal­ance is threat­ened by an over­abun­dance of ants. They re­cover rain­wa­ter and use a soaker hose to en­sure none is wasted. And by plant­ing a lot of na­tive species, they have in­tro­duced healthy bio­di­ver­sity and cre­ated a wel­com­ing place for pol­li­na­tors and other na­tive wildlife. The re­sult is a re­fresh­ing oa­sis right in their back­yard, which in­cludes a gar­den pavil­ion and a spa. “It’s not a job for me — it’s ther­apy,” says Nathalie. “It’s how I find bal­ance.”

Marois and Pivin’s gar­den is reg­is­tered in the Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion’s WILD Spa­ces Back­yard Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram. Visit to learn how you — and your gar­den — can get in­volved.

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