HELEN LANG: From a hard childhood to a lovely garden

Gardener visits beautiful garden made by a man with a tough upbringin

July 4 is one of America’s great holidays and they really celebrate it with gusto, whereas we Canadians are much more circumspect when we celebrate Canada Day, July 1. Maybe that’s a shame and we should let off more steam, yell and shout, send up balloons and fireworks, eat too much and just generally misbehave. I’m teasing, of course, although it might be fun to try.

This past week I was fortunate enough to get to see another well-loved garden, which was beautifully weed free and full of wonderful things, from pale pinks to clumps of glorious showy alstromeria. There is an enormous mock orange shrub, zinnias, pansies, rhodos, azaleas, and if you can name anything else I’m pretty sure you’d find it there. The bed is about 50 feet long and 10 deep, and is the focus of this man’s life. He is alone and has had a difficult life, being a graduate of a Borstal home for orphaned boys in Britain where there were so many kids they had to go without shoes and instead of a name they had a number, and if they didn’t eat quickly some other hungry boy would devour their meal. Terrible, and something we know little about in this rich and bountiful country of ours.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 25 years.