Tour My Mostly Edible Secret Garden

Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up and think, “Wow. I live here”. Given the opportunity to host and share a piece of the experience with over 500 people touring our yard space was a fantastic experience.

Being one of 16 homes on a fundraising secret garden tour this year for New Dance Horizons happened by chance. Our neighbour brought over the director of the dance group while she was scouting potential host yards and from there things were all set in motion.

During a weekend in mid July the guests enjoyed the space we luckily call home. It is a small yard that is cozy and comfortable while being jam-packed with something new to see at every which way you turn. I never realized how connected the yard is to my cooking and how fortunate I really am to have it available just a few steps away from the back kitchen door.

The road leading to the initial purchase of the house was quite the journey and gamble. The condo we were living in sold with a move out date 2 weeks from the offer being accepted.

We sold the condo with no place to live plus I returning back to work from maternity leave and had a teething 1 year old who’s birthday party was to be held during this time also. We made arrangements for a temporary basement suite rental, added more household items to the rented storage space and moved only with the bare essentials.

I spotted a 3 storey 100 year old character home by chance on a for sale by owner site and fell in love with it immediately. It was in the location we wanted with a grocery store, daycare and our work places all within walking distance. The galley kitchen with the cork flooring, the front porch, the wine cellar, the dining room and the living room with the 10ft ceilings and of course the yard full of plants and herbs was all the qualities I had always wanted. It had to be in the cards to work out.

yellow lilymallowPetuniayellow flowerspurple lily flowerveronica flowerlight pink lilyechinops plant delphiniumpurple lilybegoniatiger lily

Within the first steps into the house viewing I knew this was our new family home. We moved in about 30 days later.

front yard

I was fortunate enough to inherit a vast number of perennials along with the home purchase. Everything was a bit overgrown, but as it has been trimmed back over the years each of the plants now has it’s own space to develop but still blend together nicely.

New touches have been added each year with one bigger project and the addition of new plants. The first year the green space between the garage and fence was converted into a private dining area under a canopy of grapes vines. The brick was re-purposed from another person’s back yard and works lovely with the brick pathway that is already in place. The pathway was made from the bricks of our neighbours 100+ year old chimney when it was dismantled to make way for a new heating system.

table toptablescapetable settingstable setting garden tablescape napkintablescape gardenside table scapelemons table scape flower arrangement

In the second year the square raised vegetable boxes were removed to make more room for a growing girl to be able to run around the grass. We missed having fresh veggies on hand so we replaced it with a tiered planter box that is host to beans, peas, carrots, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard and beets. It is a perfect companion to the bigger garden at my brother in laws in the city that holds the larger items like potatoes, zucchini and squash. It is also in the city and a quick drive away to tend to. Luckily it also has 2 large rhubarb plants that compliment the small one in our garden at the house.

planterbox veggies

The third year project was a bigger one with the replacement of the back deck patio. The one that was there was sadly on it’s last legs and needed to be replaced. Most summer evenings are spent relaxing on the lounge furniture and hosting friends and neighbours with a variety of drinks and appetizers so replacing the deck was a priority.

herb garden plants

Sometimes you just hit the jackpot with fantastic neighbours.

The house next to us and the one further over have backyard fences about waist height. The long narrow yard seems like an endless expansion as the view is open in the middle. The lounge area on the deck and the back dining area  provide private options to accommodate those times when you want some alone time. The 2 level apartment building is mostly hidden with the greenery of a wall of hops that fill in each spring. The apartment provides fantastic shelter from the wind and even on a typical blustery Saskatchewan day it is generally calm in our little oasis.

Wall of hops Hops

The front yard boasts miniature cherry trees and a miniature plum tree which produced fruit for the first time this year. It was a great year for fruit and produce and the harvested bounty was much enjoyed.

Miniature cherries

The canopy of grapes in the back that I had previously mentioned, produce about 52 cups of grapes each year. They are great for making a variety of jams and jellies. The leaves are preserved for making dolmades.

green grapesgrapes

The miniature apple tree produces the perfect sized apples for my daughter’s tiny hands. She claims each apple to be hers.

Miniature apple tree with fruit

There is also a kiwi plant that hasn’t produced fruit yet but had blossoms for the first time.

Kiwi flowers

A bunch of raspberry bushes huddle around the lilac tree by the deck. The lilac blossoms are so fragrant in the early spring and I have used them to season sugar in the shortbread cookies made earlier this year. We have since added a blueberry bush with hopes of fruit from it in the upcoming years.

In full bloom lilacs

Working with fresh herbs and having them steps from the back kitchen door is any chef’s dream. Mid spring and into late fall that dream is my reality.

Sweet mint, peppermint, sweet basil, purple basil, micro basil, lavender, chives, garlic chives, rosemary, thyme, sage, curry plant, parsley, dill, are all available to add that certain something to libations and dishes. We have added to the herb garden each year with different varieties and they are dotted around the perennials that mix with them.

herb gardengarlic chivesTomato

The nasturtiums and pansies planted this year provides more options of edible flowers to the lilac tree and variety of rose bushes that are already present in the backyard.

nasturtiumspansieslight pink rosepink rose

All in all, it is a special space that we love to share with our guests and include in our daily cooking. We are looking forward to many more years in our home and can not believe it has only been 3 years so far.

I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour.

secret garden helper


  • Wow! You have a beautiful garden! I hope to eventually turn our yard into something as pretty.what is Dalmata? I just built and trellis and planted a grape vine this year. I also wasn’t aware that lilacs are edible!

    • The garden is a great get away in the heart of the city. We live close to downtown and you wouldn’t even know it as it has a relaxing rural feel.
      You spotted the error – should be dolmades. Got to love auto correct sometimes. 😮 I have since made the correction to the post.
      Good luck with the grapes! They are relatively low maintenance once established and make for a lovely terrace.

  • No way! I didn’t even realize it was a typo! For the dolmades do you use the fresh leaves to wrap the filling then steam? What time of year is it best to harvest leaves for this!?

    • For the dolmades grape leaves choose ones that are mid maturity as the older ones are tough. About the size of your hand is about right as it big enough to wrap the rice filling later.
      I canned them with brine as it further softens the leaves and then you can have them on hand all year long.
      Pick fresh ones then blanch them. Run over cool water to stop the cooking. Stack about 6 or 8 on top of each other and cigar roll them. They can then placed into jars on end and keep adding the rolls until the jar is full. Pour brine over to fill the jars. I used small 250 ml jars as you can pack a lot in them. Place lids and hot water process to seal the jars.
      I left them in the jars a minimum 3 months before using.
      Rinse them before using to get rid of the additional salt. Then wrap around the prepared filling and serve room temp.
      Hope this helps. They are delicious!

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