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Pointe-Claire couple turns backyard into urban oasis

Visitors check out a wild garden at a home in Pointe-Claire during a garden tour on Aug. 11, organized by the area's horticultural society. .
Visitors check out a wild garden at a home in Pointe-Claire during a garden tour on Aug. 11, organized by the area's horticultural society. . Global News

Imagine having waterfalls, ponds and hundreds of species of plants and trees in your backyard.

That’s what Theo Wouters and his partner Roger Thibault created at their home in Pointe-Claire. They say it’s their urban oasis.

“It was all grass,” Wouters told Global News. “The only tree that was in the backyard was a weeping willow.”

The two decided that there just wasn’t enough privacy when they moved in 40 years ago. They also didn’t want to use fertilizer to grow grass.

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“We decided to plant the whole garden full of native stuff — things that grow here,” Wouters explained. “We succeeded.”

In place of the lawn, they put rocks. They also created stones walls with them, between which they put even more plants.

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They’re not sure how many species of trees and flowers they planted in the 12,000-square-foot space. But because they began the process, the couple says nature took care of the rest. In all, they think there are about seven species of trees that have grown because of seeds birds dropped in the yard.

In addition to the trees, there are two ponds for goldfish.

“One is about 50 feet long, six feet deep in one section,” Wouters said, beaming.

Wanda Mitkiewiecz, head of the Pointe-Claire Horticultural Society, led a tour of the garden on Sunday. She points out that having a garden like this does more than provide a quiet, private space.

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“It is a sanctuary for wildlife and for the bees and the pollinators,” she said.

Wouters added that animals and birds use the bushes to nest, rest or even hide, and with hotter summers, a garden like his provides much-needed space to help keep cool.

“People should think about it and plant much more trees and greenery around the place,” he said.

Visitors on the tour like Rani Gill enjoyed the feeling of being in the garden.

“What I like about this garden is that you go in your backyard and it feels like you’re in the woods,” she said.

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WATCH (May 10, 2019): Turning a community garden into an urban farm

Turning a community garden into an urban farm
Turning a community garden into an urban farm

There are challenges with some of the wildlife that visit the garden, though. Herons are eating the goldfish in the ponds this year.

“I had about 350 fish in there, and I have about 10 left,” Wouters said, shaking his head and laughing. “When they have their own chicks, they become very lazy in catching fish in the river, and the goldfish (in the garden) are easy to catch.”

Still, he says having the garden is well worth it. He believes wild gardens like theirs are the future.