When you purchase a house you also receive, depending on the specifics of the arrangements you make with the previous owner, the garden. This can be extremely exciting or extremely daunting, depending on your point of view. I was privy to a situation this past week that was both!
Picture this. Young couple with a young baby, moved to the Okanagan, very excited and have purchased a house and garden. Your columnist was asked for and freely offered garden advice when they moved in. I was very happy to oblige. After all, I knew Shelby (not her real name) when she was still in her Mom’s womb and, as her “Uncle Scott” I was just as enthused about the possibilities of a garden as she and her husband were.
Well, there are gardens and then there are gardens. When we pulled up to the house we noted that the driveway was somewhat steep (we parked at the bottom and walked up). I quickly noted the xeriscape-type landscaping in front and small, level patch of lawn near the entrance. Steve (not his real name) had just unpacked a brand new lawn mower and was ready to test it out.
Hugs were exchanged all around and we had the tour of the new residence, up and down. “What a great house, and what a great price “I said, looking out the back bedroom window into what I thought was the rest of garden. There was another level piece of lawn and a brick retaining wall with a bank of Cotoneaster groundcover above it.
“How far up does the property go?” I asked absentmindedly when we had made our way into the back garden. “Right up to the top!” enthused Steve. The top was located far above at the crest of the hill, carved into four terraced sections. It wasn’t Italy’s Cinque Terre but it was a close Okanagan equivalent.
We hiked up the stairs, stopping at each level to take inventory of the plant material. The previous owners were keen gardeners no doubt but, like me, they were plant collectors; many different plants, not much design sense. The garden had become too much for the couple after many years but their passion and work ethic were in plain view.
And now a new generation was on site. I admire their enthusiasm and energy; they’re going to need all of it and more. There are raised beds about half way up, which will be put to good use because our young family is excited about growing vegetables. There are a host of plants which are now wearing flagging tape; earmarked by Uncle Scott to be removed as a first step in taming the slope.
I left my cell phone number with instructions to text me when they came to a “What’s this plant and what do I do with it” moment. I am sure I’ll be going back once the frost arrives this fall and I have mentally marked at least two days in March to spend on the slope. On the way home I was turning over future slope scenarios in my mind. I think I may be as excited as our young friends are. My knowledge, their energy and stronger backs; it could be a beautiful combination.

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