Achor­age Gar­dens

Manitoba Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Don Eng­brecht

An­chor­age Gar­dens is a quin­tes­sen­tial coun­try gar­den of yes­ter­year. The his­toric farm­yard in Bois­se­vain, Man. was trans­formed by Don and Betty Eng­brecht. The cou­ple’s pas­sion for their work can be seen in the charm­ing flower beds and dis­plays of agri­cul­tural his­tory lo­cated through­out the prop­erty as vis­i­tors take a re­lax­ing stroll through the prop­erty.

The gar­dens re­ceived their name “An­chor­age” from a piece of his­tory dat­ing back to 1898. In that year a Bri­tish sailor by the name of Wil­liam Moore built a two-storey stone man­sion on the prop­erty, which the Eng­brechts acquired in 1969. In 1976, “The An­chor­age” as the man­sion was re­ferred to, was torn down due to its in­creas­ing dis­re­pair. The stones and rocks were used to line the paths in the gar­dens, mak­ing it only nat­u­ral that the gar­dens would in­herit the name “An­chor­age”.

It was claimed that the gar­dens went from in­no­cence to in­tent. To be in the stage of in­no­cence was to clean up the yard and sides of build­ings and in­stall flower beds with the sole in­tent of beau­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The in­tent stage didn’t be­gin to for­mu­late un­til the mid-1990s when all of the flower beds and dis­play sites re­ceived a site or gar­den name as well as a place name. The peren­nial gar­den, for ex­am­ple, was re­named the Place of Af­fir­ma­tion, and the se­cret gar­den re­ceived the new name, Place of Meditation. Twenty-four sites were planned, named and con­structed over in a pe­riod of 15 years start­ing in 2000. Place names were cho­sen to rep­re­sent at­tributes of life that we share and/or live by on a daily ba­sis and there­fore the tours were called, A Jour­ney of Life through An­chor­age Gar­dens.

The gar­dens were cre­ated around two ba­sic prin­ci­ples. First, that all con­struc­tion used only re­cy­cled ma­te­rial and sec­ond, that each site was to in­cor­po­rate an agri­cul­tural ac­cent. Each year the prom­ise was made to those who toured the gar­dens that a new project would be com­pleted for them to see if they came back, a prom­ise that Don and Betty have achieved each year for 15 years.

Dur­ing this pe­riod of growth and development, the Eng­brechts coined nu­mer­ous terms such as: close up gar­dens, or­ga­nized chaos and rim art. The “close up gar­den” phrase re­ferred to the rus­tic na­ture and sub­tle­ness found in the flower beds. The rust­ing scrap metal art in all flower beds was hard to find un­less the eye fo­cused on it. Or­ga­niz­ing chaos refers to the re­pur­pos­ing of ma­te­ri­als that are con­sid­ered to be junk and rim art refers to the use of wagon wheel rims in the sculpt­ing of var­i­ous art works.

The metal work in An­chor­age Gar­dens plays a very com­ple­men­tary role with the many plant­ings and flower beds. There are five metal ar­bours made from oil-stem pipes and one-inch ca­ble and four gal­leries of which

three are themed and one is dis­play­ing un-named art pieces. All 70-plus pieces are cre­ated from agri­cul­tural scrap metal.

Over 1,000 feet of paths wind through the var­i­ous parts of the yard and flower beds, com­ple­ment­ing the tex­tures and colours of the plant­ings. The gar­dens have spe­cial­ized in coleus over the past five years. It is a beau­ti­ful plant and ex­hibits beau­ti­ful tex­tured leaves in var­i­ous colour com­bi­na­tions. Paths are cov­ered with a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als, such as wood chips, crushed rock and gravel. In life, paths curve, cross and come to an end, and so do the paths in An­chor­age Gar­dens.

The guests at An­chor­age Gar­dens, in ex­cess of 2,000 over the past 15 years, can view dis­plays of agri­cul­tural equip­ment for each decade from the 1930s to the 1970s. The tours have en­ter­tained gardeners and non­gar­den­ers alike, men, women and chil­dren. A favourite ac­tiv­ity has al­ways been the op­por­tu­nity to pet and feed the goats at the end of the tour. It has been an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence to share the gar­dens with peo­ple from all across Canada, the United States and over­seas. Don and Betty have learned much from their guests and hope that they have been in­spired by what they saw in An­chor­age Gar­dens.

Rocks from the old An­chor­age house line the walk­ways.

The new house stands on the grounds of the old An­chor­age man­sion.

From the deck one can gaze out upon the sprawl­ing gar­den.

The deck dis­ap­pears un­der an abun­dance of con­tainer plants.

The paths un­ravel in an un­pre­dictable man­ner.

Metal art sculp­tures are scat­tered play­fully through­out the gar­den.

The art is made from re­pur­posed agri­cul­tural scrap metal.

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