Elly Garrett’s repurposed garden in Selkirk
When you come from a country that celebrates flowers as much as the Netherlands do, it’s no surprise that Elly Garrett’s entire family has a love of gardening. Born in the Netherlands, Elly came to Selkirk when she was a year-and-a-half old. Her parents were always avid gardeners and their enthusiasm rubbed off on all of their children. After they won the Gardenof-the-Year in 1991, Elly was encouraged to start her own garden and now she and her six siblings all take pride in their beautiful gardens.
When Elly and her husband Bob moved into their home 23 years ago, they didn’t have much to work with. The yard was treeless and surrounded by lilac hedges. There was no great spot to put a garden. After much work and the relocation of many of the lilac bushes, their perennial garden began to take shape.
Elly’s garden is not your run-of-the-mill garden. It is full of once-loved things that she’s picked up over the years and has made beautiful again. Take the edgings from a gazebo that her neighbour was throwing away when he tore it down. Elly repainted them and attached them to the garage to give it a more ornate look. Or, check out the old fence posts that they made to look like a hitching post. It’s easy to imagine tying your horse to it when you come for a visit! There’s even a cultivator that was once old and rusty and now looks beautiful in its new setting.
Elly also takes advantage of her husband Bob’s building talent which has resulted in a stunning obelisk, an arbour and a tête-à-tête where they can sit and enjoy the summer blooms. Even their friends and neighbours get to enjoy his handiwork with birdhouses and birdfeeders that he makes and gives away.
“I don’t want my garden to look like every other garden,” Elly says. My garden is full of anything and everything. I love it to look antique-y, but not junky!”
Many of the flowers in the garden remind Elly of special people in her life as well. She is a member of the horticultural club in Selkirk and has made many friends there over the years. One of their preferred things to do is share their much-loved plants with each other. One of her favourites is the Virginia bellflower that she loves to watch come up every Spring. The club is also involved in a huge spring plant sale where donated plants are sold to support a number of organizations like the Red Feather Farm and palliative care at the Selkirk Hospital.
The anticipation for this year’s garden has already begun. The begonias and geraniums are started in the kitchen window and the vegetable plot will soon be full of her prized tomatoes. The castor bean plant in the window is growing madly – one of Elly’s favourites, it will have huge beautiful foliage this summer. The leaves can grow up to two feet across and the stalk is as thick as bamboo. If you want a great tropical look around your pool, this is a great plant according to Elly.
The hot tub in the gazebo is a great vantage point to take in all of their labours and she hopes they will get to enjoy it more often this year! There’s nothing like breakfast in the gazebo while you enjoy the sights and smells of the garden!
Elly recounted a time when they went on a vacation to the East Coast in June and she vowed, “Never again! I missed all of the blooms and didn’t get to enjoy the garden at all that summer!” Now they take camping trips closer to home and spend more time enjoying the garden. Elly loves for other people to enjoy her garden as well and has even had people ask to take their wedding pictures there. Now that she has retired from 40 years of nursing Elly has been able to put more time into her garden and last year even won “Garden of the Week”! She loves when people walking by ask questions about her garden and is always happy to offer any advice!
Golden Hakone grass from Hawaii, flanked by pink phlox and echinacea.
The driveway lined with a welcoming array of salvia 'Victoria Blue' and coreopsis.
Molly finds a comfortable spot to enjoy the garden.
Echinacea (purple cone flowers) and phlox 'Bright Eyes'.
The obelisk adds contrast to the colourful blooms.
Another shady spot for hostas and dianthus.
Fun knick-knacks find a place in Elly's garden.
The impatiens find a shady spot under a tree.
A bird bath peeks out above the flowers.