A lo­cal gar­den in Ed­mon­ton: burst­ing with blooms and beauty

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Contents - Story and pho­tos by Ta­nia Mof­fat

When one first arrives in front of Car­rie and Chris’s home there is no mis­tak­ing that this is the home of an avid gar­dener. The yard over­flows with beds of colour­ful flow­ers and the hum of happy pol­li­na­tors. The rock gar­den spilling over with arc­tic phlox and spurge is one of Car­rie’s favourite parts of the front gar­dens.

As you ap­proach the house you come across a hid­den seat­ing area where Car­rie and Chris love to spend quiet week­end morn­ings play­ing chess with a cup of cof­fee; breath­ing in the sweet al­mond-like scent of the nearby Shu­bert tree.

Me­an­der­ing fur­ther down the colour­ful path that leads to the back­yard the ex­tent of their cre­ativ­ity is re­vealed. The path is edged by a stun­ning rock wall, rem­i­nis­cent of Euro­pean coun­try­sides. It is filled with tex­tured green­ery — cedars, hostas and ferns. Pass­ing through the ar­bour to the back yard one en­coun­ters a

serene sit­ting nook un­der­neath a unique per­gola. The hang­ing lanterns and penny posts add to the zen-like feel­ing it ex­udes.

From here you can hear the trick­ling of the wa­ter­fall and see the pond sit­u­ated nearby. A few steps far­ther and you are im­mersed in the full beauty of their back­yard oa­sis.

Car­rie grew up with an affin­ity for na­ture that she learned from her mom. She loved be­ing out­doors and in the woods. By the time she went to univer­sity, she knew she had to have an out­door job.

She started off mod­estly main­tain­ing yards but Car­rie as­pired for more and be­gan work­ing for the city tak­ing care of the down­town flow­ers and plants. Her next job saw her in the role of her­itage gar­dener at Fort Ed­mon­ton. After leav­ing that po­si­tion Car­rie com­pleted her Mas­ter Gar­dener cer­tifi­cate.

“Once my hus­band, Chris, and I bought a home, I was able to use my knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to work on our prop­erty. The back­yard was wild, with maples grow­ing out of a run­down shed and scrubby shrubs ev­ery­where,” says Car­rie.

The in­ge­nu­ity

The cou­ple de­cided they should start clear­ing and try­ing to fix one area of the yard at a time but it wasn’t work­ing, they were wast­ing time and money. Us­ing Car­rie's knowl­edge and Chris's skills they de­cided to start over with a solid de­sign and then be­gin the ren­o­va­tions. “Once we had our de­sign cre­ated we went to town,” she shares.

Car­rie’s ad­vice to peo­ple at­tempt­ing a gar­den over­haul is not to cheap out on soil. “Com­post and ma­nure will make a huge dif­fer­ence in your gar­den. We used truck­loads of mush­room ma­nure,” she shares. “Mulching is also very help­ful as it helps to hold mois­ture in the soil.”

Chris and Car­rie made a per­fect team, with Chris build­ing the decks, struc­tures and their pond with the wa­ter­fall. He also be­gan stack­ing stones for their rock wall. “It is just stacked stones, it’s like putting to­gether a puz­zle. Most peo­ple think you need mor­tar to cre­ate a strong wall, but the wall is sturdy. It also al­lows you to cre­ate a sort of liv­ing wall too, we’ve places suc­cu­lents and mosses in the crevices and it looks beau­ti­ful,” shares Car­rie. The cou­ple also in­cluded a cou­ple of large boulders to add more di­men­sion.

Car­rie says the idea for the pen­nies on the per­gola came about from ideas she and Chris had en­vi­sioned. Chris had wanted to in­clude stones on the post of the per­gola but re­al­ized he

would have trou­ble with them fall­ing off. Car­rie had seen a penny floor and had wanted to in­clude that in their yard some­how. At first they thought a drive­way, but re­al­ized the posts of the per­gola would be per­fect. The project is stun­ning and it took Chris five years to com­plete. “It was a lot of work, he had to drill the pen­nies then glue them on the wall and nail them down, one at a time,” she tells us. This labour of love was worth the ef­fort though and pro­duced for them a one of a kind piece of art for their yard.

The back yard is filled with trea­sures at ev­ery turn, from glo­ri­ously full white blooms of hy­drangeas to the com­pact Cupid and Jui­ette cherry trees, part of the Saskatchewan Romance se­ries. Car­ries favourites in­clude the magic car­pet and golden mound spirea which put on a show

from spring to fall, mak­ing a pretty state­ment planted en masse with the con­cord bar­ber­ries.

Car­rie de­signed the gar­dens to be en­joyed for all of the sea­sons. In spring the front porch is the place to be; the air filled with the heavy scent of blooms and plants com­ing to life. In sum­mer the peren­ni­als put on a show and the cou­ple’s fa­vorite place to be is on the back deck or by the pond. As the sea­son turns the yard pre­pares for slum­ber with a colour­ful dis­play of turn­ing leaves. The rich red of the amur maple, the smoke­bush’s re­dish-yel­low leaves, and con­trast­ing ev­er­greens make a pretty scene.

Chris's labour of love took five years to cre­ate.

Each penny was drilled, glued and nailed down.

The cou­ple even in­stalled a liv­ing roof on their shed.

The scent of roses fill the air.

A gor­geous con­tainer dis­play.

Creative ac­cents fill the yard.

A nice con­trast of colours and tex­ture.

The back porch is the fo­cal point of sum­mer en­ter­tain­ing.

A vi­brant explosion of colour and tex­ture.

Bees dance amongst the blos­soms.

Car­rie and Chris's front yard has been the re­cip­i­ent of sev­eral awards over the years in­clud­ing Ed­mon­ton's Front Yards in Bloom.

The front porch with it's hid­den seat­ing area is a favourite spot to spend a Sun­day morn­ing.

The gar­den is bird and pol­li­na­tor friendly.

A com­pact cherry tree from the Saskatchewan Romance se­ries.

Plants placed be­tween the rocks cre­ate a liv­ing wall.

Pretty anemone canaden­sis seed head.

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