After 30 years of toiling outdoors, Gertie and Barrie Brown have created an idyllic garden space outside their home in Creston.
Their half-acre property features a large variety of perennial flowers, shrubs, roses bushes, fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and fish pond.
It’s hard to believe the garden is in the middle of town. While sitting outside below the giant shady oak tree, nothing can be heard but the sounds of babbling water from the pond and chirping birds in branches above.
It has been a labour of love to make the garden what it is today.
“Everything you see in this whole yard, we planted it. We built it,” said Gertie.
“For the fish pond, we dragged all those rocks home from different places in the early 2000s. And I was much younger then, so I could lift all those big stones.”
Now that their health is of more concern at ages 77 and 83, Gertie and Barrie have some outside help from friends to weed their garden and keep it in immaculate condition.
“Gardening has been my main passion,” said Gertie. “Now that everything has grown, we want to share our oasis with people who might like it for however long we are still living here.”
The only thing the Browns love more than gardening is their pets. They have adopted several dogs and cats from Creston’s PAWS (Pet Adoption and Welfare Society) over the years, including a German Shepherd named Barney.
“Barney had trained to be a service dog for a veteran, but he flunked out,” said Gertie. “He was just too friendly. He greeted everybody.”
After coming home with the Browns, Barney became a certified therapy dog and went on visits to special needs students at Kootenay River Secondary School and seniors at Swan Valley Lodge.
To give back to PAWS in honour of their much-beloved family member, the Browns hosted a tour of their garden in 2019.
The initiative was a great success, with $3,400 raised for PAWS.
Last year, Barney passed away at the age of nine. Maggie the Irish Wolfhound, who was also brought home from PAWS, will continue the fundraiser this year as his successor.
She has the same gentle demeanour as Barney, with loving brown eyes and a big head that she bumps into every visitor’s hand for a pet.
Located at 505 12 Avenue N., the garden tour will be open to the public on Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entry will be by donation, with all proceeds going towards PAWS. Raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to take home a beautiful birdhouse, or gift baskets from Save-On-Foods, Hound N’ Mouser, and Centruy 21.