Morinville gardeners dig in for contest
Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 11:15 am
• Best Front and Back Yard – Mark and Marina Dell
• Best Outdoor Living Area – Molly Platts
• Best Perennial Garden – Jean and Karl Wichowski
• Judges’ Choice Vegetable Garden – Jacob D’Aoust
That old catch-phrase of a garden as a hidden treasure is a bit of a cliché. But when you look at the winners of the seventh annual Morinville’s Best Garden Competition, perhaps the term is justified.
This year’s four winners have created delightful confections that add charm to the community, and if anything else, these beautiful gardens are a reflection of their owners’ personality.
Mark and Marina Dell’s Best Front and Back Yard garden is a first-class wonder that at first glance combines an orderly mass of trees, colourful flowers and tropical-looking ferns.
Tucked away in the back of the Dell’s huge pie-shaped lot is an artful division of areas for an elegant patio, a vegetable garden, a fire pit area and a park-like grassy area with abundant room for in-house soccer games.
“They have an immense back yard – like the back-40 and it’s full of interesting textures,” said Allen Jacobson, Morinville Community Development Coordinator.
Although not one of the judges, Jacobson joined the panel of three judges as they viewed the creative efforts of the town’s green thumbs.
“This year was an incredible surprise. Last year we had six entries. This year we had 17. There were so many beautiful, creative gardens,” Jacobsen added.
One garden that is filled with mystery is Jean and Mark’s Wichowski’s Best Perennial Garden. The front and sides of the house are robed with blue lobelia, purple verbena, orange tiger lilies, pink poor man’s orchids and decorated with huge slabs of rock from across Canada.
However, it is the back yard that creates anticipation and slowly reveals its secrets step-by-step. Packed with leafy green trees, bushes, vines, creepers and perennials, it is a shady oasis in the stifling summer heat.
The garden is a partnership of hobbies whereby Karl has built a massive tiered deck that houses a fireplace, hot tub, birdbath, feeders and a fountain.
Jean instead dotted the back yard with delphiniums to attract humming birds and bluebells to draw butterflies. Morning glories, monkshood and ferns are sprinkled throughout. An apple tree, heavy with clusters of ripening Norlands drapes its boughs over lush grass.
Every corner displays a whimsical treat – Victorian lamps, a windmill, a birdhouse, birdcages, feeders, a miniature gazebo, angel statues and a carved coconut gourd to name a few things.
An offshoot of this garden, intended or not, is that it has become a haven for wildlife. Full of natural food and shelter from the elements, it is a nesting stop for robins, finches, blue jays and chickadees.
Jean points to the majestic Schubert chokecherry growing in front of her daughter’s bedroom window.
“She’s not living here any more, but when she did, she could see robins nesting through her window.”
With a more open plan, Molly Platts is this year’s recipient for Best Outdoor Living Area. Platts’ rather large L-shaped back yard combines the whimsy of her British heritage with a cottage-like vibe.
The central focus is a pool surrounded by six stately trees and a mix of perennials. What was once a vegetable garden is now slowly being repurposed and transformed into an exploratory children’s garden with fairytale creatures.
What sets Platts’ garden apart are the glass totems she designs, hand-makes and strategically scatters in her yard.
“On a dull day, these ornaments sparkle and make it come alive,” Platts said. “I don’t think of it as work. It’s fun. It’s a way to be creative. You don’t need to be exceptionally talented. You just need good glue.”
And finally, the Judge’s Choice was 10-year-old Jacob D’Aoust’s vegetable garden.
Each contestant receives a $75 gift certificate to Morinville’s merchant of choice.