For Alf Bogusky and Ann Pappert, their garden thrives off the tension of balancing different worlds: the built and natural environment, urban and rural settings, and their preferences and interests that they’ve expressed and followed throughout their lives. The energy of planting their garden between these elements has allowed them to create a natural retreat for themselves and local pollinators.
“Alf wanted to live in a rural environment,” Ann explains. “Whereas I wanted to have elements that were both rural and urban. Alf grew up in Lethbridge and has a powerful connection to the landscape and the country. He’s always been concerned about people, land, and animal conservation.”
“Ann has gardened most of her life in various ways,” Alf adds. “It’s a form of connection, and an extension of her studio work.” Ann studied art history/studio, apprenticed in stained glass, and worked in galleries and theatre before spending twenty-five years in municipal government. “Gardening and photographing the daily changes we see are an extension of our love for colour, light, and life.”
Alf and Ann started gardening seriously at their house in Waterloo after Alf retired in 2010. “We decided to remove all the grass from our front yard and put in an entire garden,” Ann explains. “We searched online for the best plants for pollinators and filled the garden. The horticultural society’s walking tour featured the garden with a tagline about our style being like ‘guerrilla gardeners,’ which made us laugh. Still, the garden was our delight, and the pollinators came.”
“At the time, our neighbour and gardening mentor Karen Gee shared honey from her daughter’s new beekeeping business in Ayr. The flavours of the honey, sourced from the lavender flowers nearby, reinforced the importance and delights of making good plant choices. It was delicious!”
Ann and Alf moved from their Waterloo home in 2013 but settled into a new house in southwest Guelph which looks out onto rural farmland. The lot is 32 x 120, creating a challenge with its short width. “We put raised beds along the edges of the property, and then set up three tiers of raised beds which act as a retaining wall,” says Ann. “Alf redeveloped the fairly rough backyard, adding underground drainage to guide rainwater away from the house.”
At the front of the house, the Bogusky/Papperts took up the grass and dealt with a struggling Red Bud to create new planting beds. “We took up the boulevard lawn around 2018,” says Ann, “and filled it with pollinator plants, but these grew too tall. We re-planted it last year with ground covers.”
In total, their garden features around 125 plants in their front beds and 80 in the back. Most of these plants are local and pollinator-friendly, including Anemone, Black-eyed Susan, Hibiscus, Marigolds and Milkweed. Additional pollinator plants have been added along the fence line, to transition between the urban home and the rural surroundings.
“The garden has attracted numerous pollinators,” says Ann. “I’ve seen bumble bees, butterflies, moths and beetles. It’s always nice to see who visits, from bats to blue jays, finches, orioles and morning doves, even a wild turkey, once.”
“We’re not 100% pollinator gardeners; we can always do better,” Ann adds. “But we hope our conscious application of plant choices and land use has helped in many ways. It has given us an excellent solution to our rural/urban dilemma in this house. The rural landscape provides pastoral tranquillity, a steady supply of food sources for animals, birds and pollinators, and it provides a beauty that fills us up each day, now, for almost four years.”
The Bogusky/Papperts have learned much in their decade of gardening and are happy to advise anybody joining the calling. “Start in short steps,” says Ann. “Phasing a garden development helps you learn by practising what pollinators will work in the specific circumstances or environment. Research your plants and their needs; there are many user-friendly online materials to be had.”
“Enjoy and understand how plants and pollinators need to have a relationship with the gardener,” Ann adds. “And get involved with a pollinator community group; there’s a lot of research, advice, advocacy and support out there. However, most of all, take the time to appreciate the fruits of your labours.”
How do I create a pollinator garden? Check out this article from the David Suzuki Foundation.
Do you have a pollinator garden? Register it for rare’s 1000 Gardens Project, and consider purchasing a This is a Pollinator Garden sign (e-mail james [dot] bow [at] raresites.org for more information)!