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An English Garden


A full spring garden is not as common, as evident, as the summer garden. But they are a wonderful panacea to the long, cold winter. I found one within a kilometre of my home in LoEllen Park. Ruth Doucette has a authentic spring garden. The first wave of spring in the merry month of May brings tulips and daffodils in full bloom and early hosta leaf underlying like ground cover.

Doucette’s garden has many varieties of spring blooms. The daffodils, for instance, have cousins about to share this vernal time—so happy to be in bright sunshine. Double daffodils enjoy the freedom of naturalizing in the lawn.

The allium seem to be everywhere, high above, punctuating the scene with their purple exclamation. The driveway border bed is painted in hues of Doucette’s favourite colours, pink and purple.

The cherry rose azalea is a sight to see, the crown jewel in the front garden. For the brief period of bloom, it is complemented by yellow tulips with a rose photoshop dollop from the azalea bush on one side and orangey-red tulips on the other.

Doucette is a reader of all things English. Literature that is. She tends an English cottage garden by incorporating many English-type plants that will grow in this zone. She calls her bungalow Bumble Cottage. Trips, or better, pilgrimages, to England’s gardens are always a treat for her. Prince Charles’ Highgrove garden should be on every gardener’s bucket list, she says.

Her mother cared for many house plants and her father grew up on a farm, so her interest is closely connected to the land. Indeed she learned the epithet, “Feed the soil not the plant,” from her father. Her soil regimen includes shrimp compost and/or fish fertilizer in the spring to top-dress the beds.

The gardener’s personality shows by what she loves and admires—the colours, style, hard landscaping and all things tasteful. In spring, the garden is a variety of bulbs and, in summer, her David Austin roses are enjoyed for colour and fragrance. As spring gives way to summer, her container gardens will hold both annual and perennials—heuchera, petunias, licorice plant, verbena to name a few.

Doucette spends many long hours in her garden but it is not work. When she was still teaching, her solace was the garden path to no stress, no questions. There is joy digging in the dirt. The garden is where birds sing, water trickles, and wind chimes chime. The hobby only gets better in retirement.

When not in the garden, Doucette is busy with needlepoint with the motif of flowers in some amazingly large works.

Lest gardening appear too sacrosanct or too wonderful for words, I like to ask my gardening friends about the dark side of gardening with the question, “What is the baddest (sic) weed in your garden?” Hers is bindweed, goutweed and creeping Charlie. Weeds are the reality at times but gardeners will talk more about the glory. Imagine meeting the glorious not on a distant mountain or seashore, but right in your own yard.


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