Elsie's "convalescence" project evolved into a labour of love fraught with challenges. Hard-fought battles with the property’s unforgiving clay soil were won by bartering salmon for leaf mulch, and rare species that weren’t supposed to live in this rugged Maritime climate were adapted to thrive under Elsie’s careful tending. Trees were moved, earth was excavated and boulders were relocated—presumably with some help from the local men, farmers and fishing guides to whom she passed along her love and knowledge of gardening. Elsie gardened until she was almost 90. The gardens were opened to the public in 1962.