Garden #2 - The Keatings'  garden in progress

Home & Garden

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Fran and Ed Keating with their special 'memoriam' garden

The greenhouse of European larch wood that Ed built for Fran

When Fran and Ed Keating first came to Port Elgin in 1967, it was in a small travel trailer with three young children.\

Fran Keating with her front yard hosta

Then, when they decided to make the move permanent, the couple bought an empty corner lot on Bricker Street.

The lot was flat and nondescript, but when they began the excavation for their home, they decided to keep the fill and build rolling mounds to add character to the lot.

Rolling mounds filled with plantings and large stones

Today, the gently rolling mounds are filled with plantings that also act as a sound buffer from the street.

Ed Keating, skilled at carpentry, built a greenhouse and deck of European larch.  "It's part of the tamarack family of trees," explains Keating, "but unlike cedar, it is much harder and therefore lasts a lot longer."

Newly planted hosta in the street-corner bed

Fran Keating continues her plants by drying seeds from the various varieties and re-starting them in her greenhouse.  "I have several succulents," she points out, "but the spring has been cool and wet, which they don't like so they are still in the greenhouse until we get a good stretch of hot dry weather.

Pond is filled with fish and aquatic plants

While the front has an abundance of hosta, the back yard features a large deck and pond.  The pond is filled with fish and aquatic plants and special 'frog' ornaments from their grandchildren.  "We had a problem with heron eating the fish," says Ed Keating, "and then we placed an artificial heron beside the pond and we haven't had a problem since.  The fish also happily overwinter even though the water isn't overly deep.  We do keep a pump running though to keep it open and aerated."

A waterfall keeps the water moving

The back of the property is lined with pine trees and, although old, the Keatings have retained them as they are home to cardinals.  "We also have blue jays nesting in the trees because we also provide ready food for them."

Tucked away in a corner is a new but very special garden that the couple established in memoriam to a lost grandchild.

"We enjoy our yard," says Fran Keating, "and Ed works as hard as I do in it."


Unfortunately, just prior to the Garden Tour, the couple had mature hosta stolen in the middle of the night.  "We couldn't believe it," says Fran Keating. "They had to work with shovels to get them out and I don't understand it because we share our plants with anyone who asks ... obviously the thief wasn't a true gardener because someone who loves and appreciates plants would never do that."

The Keatings quickly set about to re-plant and fill in the scars of stolen plants and ... anyone who did not know the story, would never have guessed.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011