County Fair looks at landscaping

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row.” While this may not be the garden that you dream of each spring as you glance at the latest seed catalogue arriving in the mail, or walk through the rows of bedding plants at your favorite nursery, most people who garden, reap a variety of benefits from their efforts.

By Sherry Gummow

For the News

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row.” While this may not be the garden that you dream of each spring as you glance at the latest seed catalogue arriving in the mail, or walk through the rows of bedding plants at your favorite nursery, most people who garden, reap a variety of benefits from their efforts.

Larry and Marie McWade have an old farmyard as the backdrop for their gardening pursuit. A farmer for many years, Larry likes to see things grow. “It’s a way of keeping agriculture alive for me,” Larry said. “I do most of the vegetable gardening, and Marie looks after the flowers. She’s artistic and has a good eye for how colors blend together; it works out well.”

Marie agreed, but also enjoys the birds that are attracted to their yard. “Many varieties of beautiful birds come each year, and I enjoy watching them raise their families. Without the garden we plant, I’m sure we wouldn’t have near the species,” she stated. “Larry grows great vegetables; they’re far superior in taste to anything you can buy in a store and no doubt they’re better for us.”

Janet Hatala is the newest convener for the landscaping competition at the Ponoka County Fair. When asked why she spends time planning and planting a garden, she also stated, “I like to see things grow.”

Raised in a family of six kids, Hatala spent lots of time in the garden with her mom. “Growing a garden was more of a necessity while growing up; it helped feed us for most of the year and I’ve just continued doing it,” she said.

Hatala and partner, Lewis Cline, have won the Ponoka County Fair’s landscaping and gardening competition many times over the years, for both their gardening prowess, and for their beautifully landscaped yard. Driving into their yard northwest of Ponoka, you are immediately struck by the neatness and the contrasting colors in their immaculate flower and vegetable gardens.

“We both enjoy gardening and seeing the results of our labour. It’s a way to reduce my stress – well, most of the time it is,” Hatala corrected herself. “A bad hailstorm would increase my stress level, watching the entire harvest disappear before my eyes. That hasn’t happened a lot, so mostly it’s enjoyable.”

“I’m really excited about a new division that we’ve added for the 2008 competition at the County Fair,” says Hatala. “Both rural and urban residents have started adding water gardens or water features to their landscaping. They add a whole new dimension to a beautifully kept yard. Whether an intact eco-system, featuring fish, water plants and the beauty that surrounds a living pond, or simply a water feature, we wanted to give people the opportunity to showcase their handiwork.”

Nominate your yard, garden, or water feature to the competition at the upcoming County Fair – one or all of the divisions.

“Entries close July 25th; call me and provide the address to be judged. If you’re not a gardener, but your neighbor is, ask their permission and enter their yard in the competition,” suggests Hatala. “We’d like to see as many yards entered as possible. Cash prizes and other awards will be given out in each division.”

Contact Hatala at 403-783-2477, or visit www.ponokaagsociety.ca, where the entire County Fair prize book can be viewed.