It’s about the birds and bees

And the wild cats just love the planted cat­nip

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY DE­SIREE AN­STEY

A ru­ral gar­den in Chelton is a hive of ac­tiv­ity with wildlife liv­ing in multi-part harmony.

Wensel Har­ris and Jan­ice Ma­cLean have trans­formed a blank can­vas into a place of in­spir­ing beauty. Daz­zling dis­plays of peren­nial flow­ers cre­ate con­ti­nu­ity for ev­ery sea­son. There’s a labyrinth of raised vegetable and herb gar­dens, fruit trees and bushes, a large free-range chicken coop, and bee­hives.

“In 1997 I built our house, and then in 2011 Jan­ice moved in and we started trans­form­ing the grounds into a gar­den for ev­ery sea­son,” said Har­ris.

Paths are lined with stone, there’s un­painted sculp­tures left to rust in their nat­u­ral state, a charm­ing green­house is com­plete with chan­de­lier and antique fur­nish­ings, and there’s a cus­tom-built shed.

“The holes in the shed rep­re­sent an in­di­vid­ual box for the star­ling birds to nest, so they don’t get trapped inside the build­ing,” grinned Har­ris. “We had a squir­rel and her ba­bies live in the shed too.”

The gar­den, an eye-catch­ing ta­pes­try of tex­ture and colour, is a haven for wildlife.

“We have bun­nies, foxes, a pheas­ant, wild cats, and a wild tur­key roam­ing around our gar­den. Noth­ing gets turned away. The wild cats roll around in our gar­den and we went to the Cat Ac­tion Team to get them a home for nearby, and we plant cat­nip for them to en­joy,” added Ma­cLean.

In the far cor­ner, sur­rounded by lush green trees are six sep­a­rate bee­hive homes. The hives are home to thou­sands of hon­ey­bees that pro­duce an abun­dance of wild­flower honey that has a light and flo­ral taste.

“I re­mem­ber my mother say­ing they al­ways had a bee­hive in the or­chard when she was a kid, and that’s what sparked my in­ter­est. We were do­ing so much gardening and wanted the pol­li­na­tors, so we started with one lit­tle bee­hive and now we have six,” ex­plained Ma­cLean.

The bees pol­li­nate the flow­ers, pro­vid­ing a boun­ti­ful har­vest of fruits, seeds and veg­eta­bles, as well as the joy of watch­ing them up close.

“We have a tree that his son planted from an ap­ple seed and it had never made an ap­ple, and a year after we got the bees the tree got ap­ples,” added Ma­cLean.

“We don’t use any chem­i­cals on the prop­erty (lo­cated on Chelton Road), so to com­bat the aphids and the potato bee­tles, we or­dered in 2,000 live la­dy­bugs from Costco on­line, which was a tip we ac­tu­ally got from be­ing part of the Sum­mer Gar­den Tour. The la­dy­bugs are out on the prop­erty eat­ing all the bugs and liv­ing their life; it’s won­der­ful,” she con­tin­ued.

Heav­enly scents bring the gar­den to life from rose­mary, sage, cel­ery, pars­ley, saf­fron, chives, gar­lic, onions, sweet mar­jo­ram, lemon thyme, oregano, tar­ragon, four dif­fer­ent kinds of basil, five types of potato, camomile, beets, grapes, rasp­ber­ries, to name but a few crops grow­ing.

“We do onions, beets, car­rots, gar­lic (around 600 bulbs), snow peas, snap peas, yel­low and green beans, we have paste tomato, cherry, and a her­itage tomato that’s been in our fam­ily since 1918,” said Ma­cLean.

The front lawn is equally re­ward­ing with a view of the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge. The cou­ple joined the Summerside and Area Gar­den Club’s Sum­mer Gar­den Tour re­cently to show­case their hard, but re­ward­ing work.

“We had around 100 peo­ple visit,” Ma­cLean com­mented, while point­ing out her climb­ing red and white roses that will, in time, form a fra­grant blos­som­ing tun­nel. The cou­ple plans to host wed­dings on their well-man­aged land­scape.

“I’m a mar­riage com­mis­sioner, and we al­ready have our first wed­ding planned here in Au­gust,” con­cluded Har­ris.

More in­for­ma­tion on the gar­den is avail­able at: forever­green­home­stead@word­press.com

“We don’t use any chem­i­cals on the prop­erty (lo­cated on Chelton Road), so to com­bat the aphids and the potato bee­tles, we or­dered in 2,000 live la­dy­bugs from Costco on­line, which was a tip we ac­tu­ally got from be­ing part of the Sum­mer Gar­den Tour. The la­dy­bugs are out on the prop­erty eat­ing all the bugs and liv­ing their life; it’s won­der­ful.” Jan­ice Ma­cLean

DE­SIREE AN­STEY/JOUR­NAL PIONEER

Wensel Har­ris and Jan­ice Ma­cLean trans­formed a blank can­vas into an oa­sis for bees and birds. In the far cor­ner, sur­rounded by lush green trees are six sep­a­rate bee­hive homes. The hives are home to thou­sands of hon­ey­bees that pro­duce an abun­dance of wild­flower honey, with a light and flo­ral taste.

DE­SIREE AN­STEY/ JOUR­NAL PIONEER

Paths are lined with stone, there’s un­painted sculp­tures left to rust in their nat­u­ral state, and a charm­ing green­house com­plete with chan­de­lier and antique fur­nish­ings that make it the ul­ti­mate home space for Jan­ice Ma­cLean to re­lax in.

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