Gardens - Featured Gardens

A garden in good hands

Sara Begg Townsend
Photography by
Stacey Van Berkel Haines

Nova Scotia native Betty Minor has thoughtfully cultivated a verdant, 
natural haven—and along with it, a sense of her own history.

Garden stats
Size: 0.8 hectares (0.4 hectares is scrub for wildlife; the other is cultivated garden and house) Zone: 5a Orientation: South Conditions: Rocky, loamy, well-drained soil; dappled shade to full sun Growing season: April to October Garden focus: Natural Years gardening: 15 and counting in this garden

betty-minor-inset.jpgI guess you could say gardening is in my genes,” says Betty Minor. Growing up on her family’s Wittenburg, Nova Scotia, market farm, where her parents sold blueberries and vegetables as well as bedding plants, she and her sister were immersed in all things growing. Although Betty eventually moved away to Dartmouth to earn her own living, she often returned to the familiar 90-acre homestead, and moved back for good 10 years ago. Five years earlier, she had inherited from her parents a two-acre piece of land parcelled off from the original farm, and she’s spent the last 15 years turning most of it into a charming, vibrant, and lush garden. “Several of the plants I grow today were passed on to me by my mother and grandmother, even my aunts,” she says fondly, listing off-shoots of the peonies and lilacs that surrounded the original 1870s house, as well as phlox, daylilies, honeysuckle and roses. “My mother had a peaceful, cottage style garden, and I knew I wanted a haven just like that for myself.”

Working with that strong foundation, Betty has developed her own garden style. Her philosophy is simple: Create a garden that satisfies her own needs for colour and fragrance, while encouraging tons of wildlife and doing as little as possible to disrupt the natural landscape. “The discussions my parents had on how and what to plant taught me that not all gardens have to be the same to give joy. Some people might prefer a more formal look, but I garden for the four Bs: butterflies, birds, bees—and Betty,” she adds with a laugh.


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