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A little Bit Country

People walking by this lovely stone house in the city’s West End often stop to admire it and the owners’ country garden and lush lawn.

There are few if any other homes in Greater Sudbury like it. This Arts and Crafts house was built about 100 years ago in one of the city’s original neighbourhoods.

The current owners, Ken and Jackie, know quite a bit about the history of the home with its numerous windows, stone siding and low pitched roof. It was built by an Englishman for his new bride, but the couple never lived in the home. Jackie’s parents bought the house in 1947 and this is where she grew up. When her mother died and her father moved into a seniors’ home, Jackie and Ken bought it.

That was 20 years ago. The couple went to work to restore the home to its original beauty.

Then slowly they began working on the landscaping. First they had to remove thick vines covering the home’s exterior and sod the lawn.

Ken, who is originally from Newfoundland, grew up on his father’s fishing boat. He came to Sudbury in 1968 and worked for more than 30 years underground in the mines. Now retired, he loves to be outside in the sunshine, getting his hands dirty in the garden.

“You win some, you lose some,” is his philosophy to gardening.

He experiments with perennials and tempts nature to see which ones will grow in Zone 4.

“I enjoy playing with nature,” he says. Like most gardeners Ken adds something new each year, and he has developed friendships with other enthusiasts such as a prize-winning hosta grower in southern Ontario. He is a member of the Ontario Hosta Society.

“The key to gardening is to listen” to other gardeners. “I learned from other people,” he says.

Gardening season for Ken starts when seed catalogues arrive before Christmas.

Every St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, he begins to sow his seeds in small containers. When it is warm enough, he transfers the seedlings to his greenhouse in the backyard and watches over them until they are ready to plant.

As soon as the snow melts, he starts to look for signs of his rare breed of peonies. These balls of colour bloom early. Once the flowers are done, the fern leaves remain green and attractive throughout the season.

The West-End garden has won Community in Blooms citations and it  has been featured on various gardening tours.

Most visitors to the garden are curious about the dramatic Angel’s trumpet or brugmansia.
These toxic plants are native to South America and require lots of TLC to grow in northeastern Ontario. In the fall, Ken prunes them back and stores the plants in the basement over the winter wrapped in a garbage bag.

In spring, he replants them in large pots and tends to them in the greenhouse until they are ready to plant in the ground at the beginning of June.

At the end of a long summer day Jackie and Ken relax by sitting in their large enclosed porch with their fluffy white Bison frise dogs and enjoying the view.  At dusk, they watch the evening primrose open, and take time to smell the flowers.


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