ZZZimagesCAHXI5V6Grumpy has been a busy boy these last few weeks. Not only has he been working on the Park and Gardens at Grumpy Villa but he has been “running the roads” with the Phenom and the family as this is prime time for the rep basketball season. Time is surely flying by so Grumpy must be having fun, right? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

It’s raining today so Grumpy is taking a day off from the rigors of garden maintenance and the edicts written on the dreaded honey-do list. He’ll let his fingers do the walking today, across his keyboard, of course.




In the beginning there was an half an acre lot. The lot was empty; save for some newly planted saplings and a whole lot of grass to cut. The Good Wife was very pregnant and because of some medical difficulties she was required to remain off her feet, remaining horizontal at her command post on the chesterfield.

In that position she could know all, see all and direct the day-to-day activity around Grumpy Villa. And, please know, I have my wife’s permission to characterize it thus.

As an aside, a year later our daughter, the Smurf, drew a family picture in kindergarten class that was rather disturbing to her lovely teacher. All of us were draw in a standing position, except for the Good Wife who appeared to be in a prone position floating above our heads.

On interview night the teacher was relieved to see the Good Wife in person because, as she said, “That picture had me thinking that you had passed away and your daughter had depicted you in heaven.”

No, that’s Mommy resting on the couch for an entire year. The Smurf had stayed at her side for that entire period as kind of a toddler nurse/go-for couch companion.

I recall that I called home every recess break to check on my lovely wife, only to have long conversations with my precocious daughter.

“Hi, daddy, what are you doing?”

“It’s recess, honey; I’ve just called to check on mom.”

“Are the kids in your class being good?”

“Yes, sweetie; can I speak to mommy, please!”

“I’m watching a video, daddy.”

“Oh, that’s nice! Can I speak to, mommy?”

“Oh no, she’s sleeping daddy! She’s tired.”


“I got mommy a drink of water, Daddy, and we played with my dollie.”

“That’s nice. You are taking good care of Mommy.”

“What did you take for lunch today, Daddy?”

“Oh, I just brought a sandwich.”

“What are you doing now, daddy.”

“Why talking to you, hon.”

“Tee, hee, hee. That’s funny, daddy.”



The recess bell would sound and once again I wouldn’t get to speak with the Good Wife. But, I can tell you this, those conversations with  the Smurf Nurse will never be forgotten.

Anyway the Good Wife, who loves flowers, had been the main planter of the few Gardens bordering this half acre lot on all of the previous May 24th weekends. Consequently, an urgent request came down from Chesterfield Central, “Grumpy, maybe you could plant the gardens this year.”

The beautiful bundle that was born a way back when is the child that has been referred to as The Phenom in this space and who turns 19 years of age next week. Yes, I am about to enter my 20th year as Head Gardener and chief cook and bottle washer around Grumpy Villa.

Little did the Good Wife know that Grumpy had picked up a pamphlet at the International Plowing Match in Paris Ontario that detailed how to convert your yard into a natural paradise as well as attract loads of wildlife? It’s kind of a “build it and the will come” approach to landscaping. Nevertheless, Grumpy has been in garden overdrive ever since!

Every year these Gardens have expanded using Grumpy’s beg, borrow, and steal approach to hunting and gathering. You see with the expense of three kids and a wife who loves to shop, creativity has been the only way to get the materials necessary for two decades of construction projects and garden expansion. Soon there will be no lawn to cut as every inch of space is slowly converted into colourful garden space. And, that, my friends, is a good thing.

Here are some examples that detail how the scavenging was accomplished.

An old deck was deconstructed and converted into two garden arbors.

Old glass storm windows were collected for two years on “junk week” in order to convert a playhouse into a garden house that we affectionately call, “The Cottage”.

Wood chips were hauled from huge piles at a forestry operation a quarter mile from the Villa. Walking paths were created throughout the yard. FREE OF CHARGE

The old wood entrance steps to the Villa were demolished and converted into a bridge over a dry river.

Rocks and boulders were collected from piles of field stones on local farms.

Plants were split and moved about to fill spaces and many a plant sale was attended. Eldest son, Matt, directed the purchases since he was a landscaping student and golf course technician.

But, I’m still looking for that partridge in a pear tree.


Really, a lot of your garbage and thrown-away junk might be found somewhere in my yard. I actually bought a magazine this year called FLEA MARKET GARDENS that claims it has 500 ways you can gather junk for cool garden projects. I’m excited to say that these ideas are not only amazing but dirt cheap.

Last year Grumpy used the left over storm windows to build a mini-greenhouse/ hot box to start his bedding plants sprouting.


Because the price of a four or six pack of annuals is becoming like a  purchase of platinum on the black market. No one wants to pay that price for something that dies away after the first frost of October. Grumpy would rather throw his money away on beer and potato chips.

The storm window greenhouse also protects Grumpy’s sunflower sprouts from being eaten by those damn but mighty cute chipmunks inhabiting his yard. Remember, Grumpy “built it” and now they do come – in droves!

But this, of course, is only part of the story. Because, if you garden, you know that with every addition to your paradise comes an exponential increase in your workload. Spring cleanup and garden prep becomes a full time 24/7 endeavor of mammoth proportions. All the while, you must deal with the weather mavens that restrict your activity and destroy your hard work at every turn.

And, after spending a winter barely ever bending over or stooping down, the work becomes an A-535 liniment smearing task of Tylenol wolfing-down magnitude. You become so freaking sore even your hair hurts.


So, the next blog will attempt to detail the “rest of the story”. The how and the wherefores on how to get the estate gardens looking as good as they do in June.

As a point of reference, please take the time to view the following YouTube video that was produced by Grumpy last year in late May –early June. This video shows how the garden “will” look – not as it looks at present.

Heaven forbid that!

Grumpy has merely scratched the surface of his garden prep this season. Just click the link for your private viewing.




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