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Chilliwack's Linda Koskinen turned a small parcel of land into an inventive garden retreat, with rock gardens, oodles of flowerbeds and plenty of animal neighbours. View pictures of her garden and get inspiration from her story.
I have faced many challenges with my garden over the years. When we bought our cabin in Chilliwack as recreational property 11 years ago, all that was on our ¾-acre parcel was the cabin itself. We only spent weekends and holidays here. There were a lot of lodge-pole pines, salal and a mountain of rocks! We have no running water or sewer here.
When the previous owners built the cabin 32 years ago they bulldozed the rocks all to the sides, and that’s where they stayed. I saw that as a wonderful opportunity for rock gardens. About six years ago, we put in a pump that draws water up from the Chilliwack River in back of our property. That’s when the transformation started bigtime. We brought in dump-truck loads of dirt and manure, cut a number of the pines and spent many hours pulling out brush! Next, we arranged rocks to hold dirt while keeping it as natural as possible.
For the past six years, I’ve been adding flowerbeds all over the place. I have perennials from customers on my old mail route, friends and family. Having so many gardens can be expensive so I’ve learnt never to refuse plants of any kind from anyone. I like to think of my friends and family when I look at my garden and remember who gave what. I now have so much that I can share, too.
One challenge we have is the weather. We live in the mountains at an elevation of 2,000 feet. We get a lot of snow in winter, and it stays some years until May. I think we are a zone 4, but can get away with zone-6 plants because of the snow cover. In spring, I can’t wait to see what comes back! It’s like Christmas in May. Also, because the snow stays so long I have spring flowers growing right along with my annuals. It looks odd to see my daffodils blooming with coneflowers and black-eyed Susans. But I think it adds a uniqueness that you won’t find in other gardens!
I share my garden with a lot of critters. We have squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons and many types of birds. I feel that this has been their home longer than ours so I try to get along. The squirrels like to bury their seeds and nuts in my garden and I end up with sunflowers in the funniest places.
I am a collector of things most people would call junk. I like to use old metal pails and hiking boots for plant containers. I love my “window,” although my boyfriend doesn’t really get it! I’ve always looked for ideas and items that would be inexpensive as gardening can really add up.
We retired two years ago and now live here full time. I have always loved gardening and get it from my mom who always had a beautiful garden. I welcome the challenges and get satisfaction from the results.
Linda, your enthusiasm is contagious! Thank you for sharing your beautiful and inventive garden with us and congratulations on winning our Garden Challenge contest! – Ed.