If you’re ever walking around Rosedale Park your eye is inevitably drawn to colorful flora and fauna, juxtaposed against the rows of turf grass that dominate urban landscapes. On Rosemont, between Chalfonte and Eaton there is something that will likely make you pause and admire what’s possible on 1/10th of an acre. Framing the background is an “urban cottage” with a variety of perennials in front that envelope the senses. Gardens are often tucked away at the sides, or limited to a small bed near the front porch or windows, but this garden can’t be missed by any passerby. On your walk you might find a couple of friendly faces tending to this garden, who are ready and willing to answer questions and have a chat. Nichole Becker and Lou Blouin moved to Rosedale from Woodbridge in 2016 after buying the first house they looked at, which at the time was nowhere near the Eden it is today. Together they saw what so many of us see in Grandmont Rosedale: neighbors who care and charming houses.
THIS GRANDMONT ROSEDALE GARDEN WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY
Before Nichole and Lou moved to Rosedale they already had a lot of experience gardening and understood that their new home would also be home to a garden. Other than some inherited Black-Eyed Susans they started out with grass. According to Lou about “90%” of what you can see growing was “from seed…started in January.” If that sounds daunting and incredibly pragmatic it is worth mentioning that it all started with some motivation and removing at first just a bit of lawn. Four years later and the extra time at home necessitated by Covid-19, and one can see a fully-fledged flower farm nestled into a 45 x 120 ft. lot.
A COMMUNITY FOR NEIGHBORS – BEES INCLUDED
Last Winter Nichole and Lou decided to start selling flower arrangements and so realized that they would need to expand their operation to what we see now. Initially this decision arose from having an abundance of flowers and a real passion for gardening. They both knew that they had to be deliberate and mindful about how to move forward. As Lou points out, “farms can be messy places. We didn’t want to try and create a farm. We wanted to have sensitivity for our neighbors.” Thankfully, both Nichole and Lou are creative spirits, but they do take slightly different approaches. Nichole is an energy efficiency engineer and Lou is a writer by trade. Nichole describes her approach as needing “drawings” and “sitting down at the table,” while “Lou is ready to improvise” right from the start. Between the two of them it was “a fun challenge to try and create a flowers production system in [their] front yard” while trying “to make it look nice as well.” The result is “landscaping” that “challenges what landscaping can be” while also generating interest from neighbors who love to stop by and see what’s happening. Gardening is endemic to Grandmont Rosedale, but as Lou elaborates, their experience is a ”symptom of having a front yard garden versus [having] everything tucked in the back.” The opportunity for shared interests and admiration blossoms when you use your front yard as a platform to share with your neighbors. Not to mention that “when people come by, they treat it like a pop-up shop…it’s starting to feel like a neighborhood amenity,” Lou says.
Nichole and Lou wouldn’t mind having two empty adjacent lots to keep expanding, but that’s the tradeoff of Grandmont Rosedale: limited space in exchange for neighbors who care. In the meantime you can still find Nichole and Lou on Saturdays starting at noon at their flower stand.
Below is a link to Nichole’s Instagram and Johnny Seeds if you’re looking for some unique plantings of your own to get started this winter.