Long-time readers of Flowery Prose may recall a series of posts I did in the summer of 2020, in which I talked to several Alberta gardeners about their inspirations for gardening, the gardening projects they are working on, and about the challenges they face as gardeners in this province and how they are trying to overcome them. I have wanted to continue this series for quite some time, and this year – which the Canadian Garden Council has designated as Canada’s Year of the Garden – seems like a wonderful time to chat with and learn from more Alberta gardeners! Whether you live on the Canadian Prairies or you’re much further afield, I’m sure you’ll find ideas and solutions to consider for your own gardening endeavours.
Please allow me to introduce Tara Muhlbeier!
Where do you garden in Alberta?
I garden in east central Alberta in County of Paintearth. I moved to a farm that had little to no yard work done. There was a trash pile and a row of caraganas, a small greenhouse hardly used. We had our farm’s 100th anniversary going up in 2015 and I did not want the yard to look unloved.
We cleaned out the trash pile and put in rocks from our creek and perennial plants. I have taken our old ploughs from the brush pile and brought them out to have them on display in the inner yard. I also have flower beds made out of old fence slabs. I also have some old water troughs that I am using for planting.
I try to use recycled materials as much as possible and I have some old wash basins, a large tractor tire, and mineral tubs I use for flowers, watermelon, and pumpkins. I try to grow vegetables that are easy to grow and require low maintenance, and that I can freeze: Swiss chard, tomatoes, corn, and potatoes.
What challenges have you faced as a gardener? How have you overcome those challenges?
Challenges include the drought last year. We ended up hauling water from different sloughs around our farm just in order to water the vegetables and my rock garden as there was barely enough water for the house. There was a garden behind the house that was hard to reach with a hose and we had to haul in a water tank, so this year we have moved the garden to the front of the house.
We also live in a small coulee area that tends to get frost a little earlier than other spots.
What gardening (or gardening-related) projects do you have on the go this year? What are your goals for this growing season?
This year, I have added some more lilies and plan on adding more rock paths to the main flower garden.
A huge thank you, Tara, for telling us about all the work you’ve done to refresh a neglected garden space and design something incredibly special! The use of recycled materials and your creativity really shines through! You’ve also given us something to think about when considering garden spaces, rural and otherwise, including attention to siting, and working with microclimates.
Want to read more Prairie gardening viewpoints? Check out guest posts by: