by Rosalyn Roy
PORT AUX BASQUES – On one side of his driveway, Walter Poole Jr. or ‘Jun’ as his friends call him, has planted an array of flowering shrubs, plants and flowers. On the other side of the driveway, flanking the pathway leading up to his front door, there are still more, so many that he can’t always remember what some of them are exactly.
One he can’t identify is a mossy-like green shrub that feels as soft as dog fur. He calls it ‘the wig’. There are still more he can wax poetic on once prompted, about the colours they will soon display. There are various rocks here and there, from chunks of white quartz to shiny grey stones, all carefully placed to provide some small contrast.
Some of his plants come from local hardware stores, others from the Codroy Valley and well beyond. Even this late in September his yard remains a stunning array of glorious colours, textures and scents.
Jun figures he’s been gardening for at least 40 years, including more than 20 at this current garden.
“You gotta have patience. You gotta have a good, strong back, and you gotta have money,” he chuckles.
Jun’s favourite fertilizer is blood meal or bone meal. Some plants take so well to his care that he has no choice but to split them off and transplant them elsewhere in the garden, or sometimes he will give them away. Every now and again people will ask him for clippings from a plant they like, but he’s careful about that, not wanting to damage the flowers.
One neighbour visits during walks almost daily just to linger and admire Jun’s garden. He jokes that he’s going to start growing marijuana plants to entice others.
“Water it every week for the first year,” offers Jun by way of advice. “If it rained here for two days, I could come out the day after or the next day and that ground is dry.”
New plants need large amounts of water. He also says most people don’t dig their holes big enough for their transplants, and advises clearing all the grass away to three or even four times the plant’s circumference. Grass will choke a plant’s roots, says Jun.
Now that fall is here and the cooler weather is on the horizon, Jun’s garden will slowly retreat until the spring thaw. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t wrap them any of them in burlap for the winter months.
“If they don’t grow, they gotta go,” is his motto.