The Blank Garden Canvas


A Tour through The Olenick House Spring Gardens

As the temperature outside begins its ascent, I feel the urge to grab a sweater and venture outside. The gardens are calling to me. The soft, cool, April wind on my face lets me know that its time to start tempering the garden plants I’ve been harboring inside all winter. 

The life force within them has been patiently waiting, through the dark and the cold, for this day to arrive. The fuchsias we acquired last summer will be the first to discover their Spring freedom in our back garden. 

They will hang under the eaves of the garage side by side with the bird feeders. I really look forward to the profusion of pink and white blossoms swaying in the breeze. Providing protection to any avian friends that might stop by for a snack.


As I gaze across the lawn at the still silent beds, not much is happening. It is still but a blank canvas on which nature will paint to her heart’s content. All her whims and wiles and as with any art form, it will nourish both the body and spirit.

Emerging Rhubarb

A stroll through the rhubarb patch reveals several dark pink and yellow protrusions emerging from the muddy expanse. 

They look like the early beginnings of rhubarb pies in July to me! Soon, this bare patch will be brimming with many small, green leaves with perfectly scalloped edges. Mother nature sure does know how to work a seam with this particular fruited plant. 

These delicate leaves will then mature into ones that remind me of something out of the Jurassic period. The size of them though! Especially when they get a good dose of fertilizer in the process.


Perpendicular to the rhubarb patch is our young shade garden. We began building our plant repertoire our first Autumn together here in Manitoba. 

Imagining this part of the garden as a place of peaceful reflection and relaxation. The sound of water bubbling from somewhere within. Perhaps a statue or two nestled among the foliage.

We went to share a meal with some friends in their garden, last summer. After which, we were generously given some plants to get us started. Purple Iris, hosta and bleeding hearts will soon emerge to start filling in this part of our garden canvas. 

Pointy-tipped, light green shoots in the back row make me smile. Seeing them means that I planted these in enough time before the frost for them to survive the winter. Oh, happy day!


With a full heart, I wander toward the back of our property. My heart sinks, seeing that the vegetable patch is, of course, full of weeds and rogue grasses. This issue has been the bane of my existence ever since Darren and I began the process of bringing this space back to life. 

The poor blueberries and haskaps that border this area, I’m sure, feel the same way.  In my mind’s eye, I see this space carpeted with rich, nutrient compost and topsoil.

I see it bejeweled with every colour vegetable that I’ve seeded over the past few weeks. Over the winter, I spent many an hour researching the best ways to keep this scourge at bay. 

I found one using recycled store flyers that we get in the mail every Wednesday. (I’ll post about this soon!) I feel this is the easiest on the earth. Yet the toughest at keeping this situation from zapping all of my time and energy. We’ll see how it plays out. Stay tuned!

Do I dare peek out over the back fence? Doh! The wind in our neck of the woods blows northward from the south. Every fallen leaf in the area seems to end up here, and naturally, right before the first snowfall. It seems that my trusty rake and I have some work to do!


Emerging Tiger Lilies

After much wandering and meandering, I pass the yawning and stretching tiger lilies. I end my tour by the rose and peony beds.

Emerging Tiger Lilies
Young Peony Plants

The roses have yet to awaken from their dreamy sleep. Yet tiny pink shoots are beginning to rise up from the earth which will, one day soon, mature into big, beautiful pink peonies. My flower vases can’t wait!

But, they’ll have to.

To me, gardening is about patience. No instant gratification here. Like a newborn child, it takes much patience, care, nurturing and love to bring all the beauties on our garden canvas to healthy and beautiful maturity.

As life begins to stir in our surroundings here at The Olenick House, a butterfly of joy and anticipation within me begins to flutter its wings.

I return indoors, turn on the kettle for some tea, and I wait.

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. – May Sarton


  • Gardens at The Leaf
    (Assiniboine Park-Winnipeg)
  • The Toronto Flower Show
    at Canada Blooms
  • Van Dusen Botanical Garden
    (Vancouver, BC)

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