Gardening Frenzy at the Kennedy Household
by guest writer Des Kennedy
With March going out like a lamb through brilliant sunshine and dreamy daffodils, thoughts naturally turned to the Denman Island Home & Garden Tour, now a scant ten weeks away. Sandy and I are grizzled veterans of the tour, having had our place open something like eighteen times already.
Nevertheless, for the gardeners involved, the run-up to the tour – now officially underway – is a time of increasingly manic activity, not unlike what’s involved in mounting an art exhibit or theatrical production. However much dithering and procrastination there may have been up until now, suddenly the mind is sharply focused by the fast-approaching deadline.
Half-finished projects are attacked with zeal. Everything scruffy and second-rate about the place is tidied up as best it can be. Wobbly cobbles are repositioned and desperate splashes of new paint are applied where most needed. Brilliant new installations are conceived. Certain decisions, such as whether or not to radically prune back an underperforming plant, have to be taken with the tour uppermost in mind.
Mostly it’s a mug’s game because in the end, as always, nature will deal the last card. We’ve experienced tour days of pelting rain and driving wind that rendered all the finicky prep work irrelevant. On the other hand, benign summer weather on that weekend invariably vaults the tour experience over an impossibly high bar in a way that deadheading the roses simply can’t do. But deadhead we shall. And fuss. Because it’s part of the ritual, as is adopting an air of casual nonchalance when the tour is actually happening. As though the windows are always that clean, the kitchen always that tidy, the perennial beds always that weed-free. Nothing unusual here at all.
Visitors on the tour accept these peculiarities as part of the tour package. Mostly gardeners themselves, they know full well the effort involved in whipping the place into shape. They’re a gracious bunch, the people who attend this tour and, despite the frenzy between now and then, we look forward to greeting them on a splendid June weekend a mere ten weeks away.
Award winning writer, broadcaster and public speaker Des Kennedy has spent the past 40 years earning a reputation as one of Canada’s foremost gardening personalities. At the same time, he and his partner Sandy have transformed their 11-acre rainforest property into an enchanting hollow of flower, shrub and food gardens brimming with colour and intrigue, which, along with their hand-crafted fairy-tale house, has long been a favourite on the Denman Island Home & Garden Tour.