Tender Roots: Ann & Henry Kirst
It was a quick drive from Anna’s this past week as we paid a visit to one of our very own team members’ gardens. Our sweet Ann and her husband Henry are two of the kindest you could ever encounter. They are two peas in a pod whose love and dedication to true happiness exudes in all that they do and everyone they come in contact with. If Ann isn’t here singing to our plants, she and Henry are out birding, biking or visiting their two daughters. Enjoy getting to know the Kirst garden story…
If the blue shutters on their home or vibrant pops of colour sprinkled throughout their yard don’t give you enough insight as to the type of joy this family spreads – we don’t know what will. This garden tour offered a lovely mix of perennials, annuals bursting with colour, pollinators swarming every corner gleefully and a vegetable garden brimming with bounty.
An Interview with Ann & Henry
What does gardening mean to you?
Ann: It means happiness and it means peacefulness
Henry: Gardening is a hobby for me, it helps me with my arthritis because I have to bend down a lot, so it keeps me mobile.
What type of garden do you have?
Ann: It is both perennial and annual and we thought about it being more like a 3 season garden that incorporates all kinds of flowers at all different times.
Henry: We love having Columbine in the Spring, the perennials come up in the Summer and when they fade away we have the Sedum and the annual flowers that we put in there to fill in any empty spots.
How would you describe your garden?
Henry: Mainly it’s just we like a lot of colour and a lot of different varieties of plants, not so much one theme but a little bit of everything.
Ann: We also have a garden that encourages creatures, because you know that I AM a huge animal and creature lover and we literally plant stuff to encourage them to come to our yard.
Henry: We have praying mantis come every year and they help eat some of the bugs too so we always look forward to that.
Ann: So when we took down our cedar the lady praying mantis left her sack in the cedar so he cut it out and he put it into another location so that they would still be able to live here.
How has Anna’s been a part of your garden story?
Ann: Anna’s has been a part of my garden story by expanding and enhancing incredibly my knowledge of plants. There are so many things that I didn’t know that was out there that are just so beautiful, so my first year working at Anna’s when I got to see the different things I incorporated Salvia into the garden and he wasn’t aware of Salvia and it was like wow! The butterflies that come in the fall and go in the Salvia, like the Vice Roy and the Monarchs and the Painted Ladies that was amazing, and just seeing the different plants and learning them and what they can do and how they can make your garden come alive.
How did you get into gardening?
Henry: My grandfather on my mother’s side, his backyard was filled with roses, and so my mother was a little bit, just into the roses but I had lived with my grandmother and she wanted her garden done so I worked on that. It wasn’t until we got our house in Windsor that we said the yard needs some flowers it’s an old-style house it needs to have that countryish look.
Ann: Yes, we got rid of all the cedars in the front of the yard, which was all cedars and rock and then we started putting lots of flowers along the side of the border and we had a really big wildflower garden with lots of poppies and coneflowers and things like that.
Would you say that Henry kind of got you into Gardening Ann?
Ann: Yes, and the job got me into gardening.
Henry: Oh probably. I used to get Birds and Bloom magazine and that kind of gets you thinking “Well I could do this, and I could do that” and then I started to get Canadian Gardening magazine and I took it from there. But with only so much room you can only put so much in.
How many years have you been gardening?
Henry: I would say 30 years since we bought the old house.
Do you have any resources for helping to make your garden succeed and where do you draw inspiration? (Books, podcasts, people. etc. )
Henry: Yeah, magazines but mainly it’s what she wants now. “Let’s get this and let’s get that and that’s a nice colour and let’s put that…” and pretty sure I don’t have anywhere to put it anymore.
Ann: We go for lots of walks in different areas like when we go to visit our daughter, we look at the gardens and we look at different things and see what works up there but we have to consider the zones because she is in a different zone than us. But we walk in different areas a lot and we love to go on different roads, like yesterday we went to Amherstburg to go grocery shopping and we went down a different road and it’s like “Wow, look at that, look at that” and that’s what we do, we look at other peoples and see if we can incorporate some ideas.
What is your favourite thing to grow and why?
Ann: My favourite thing to grow is perennials because I just love them
Henry: I like the annuals because of the colour, if you look around the oranges, and the golds, you gotta have to fill in where the perennials leave off so that’s what, I use that as a filler. The Zinnias are wonderful, their orange colours.
What does gardening bring to your life?
Ann: It gets us outside more and you communicate more as a couple because you’re like “Okay, what do you think if we do this” or “Omgosh I saw this yesterday, I think it would be really really cool!” and I think it just opens up new pathways and it makes you more creative and it just makes you so happy and it is also very relaxing too.
Henry: It’s just a hobby since I’m retired it gives me something to do. Either early in the morning or late at night because I don’t do well in the heat.
What do you feel when you are gardening or sitting in your garden?
Ann: I feel creative and I feel like I’m helping, I feel the need to help butterflies and the other praying mantis and the bunnies. I feed the squirrel during the Wintertime, it just pulls you closer to nature.
Henry: I think what it is mainly for me is to be connected to nature, to put your hands in the dirt, it grounds you so you leave the outside world behind you and we’re all a part of this world where energy all flows through us and we work together. My attitude is if you survive, okay if you want to live then you’re gonna live, and they usually always live.
What is your favourite month and time of day in your garden?
Ann: Favourite month is September because I love it when the Sedum starts to bloom and I like it when it gets a little bit cooler and I think the sky is so beautiful in September. And my favourite time of day would be the morning because I’m a morning person because it’s quiet out here.
Henry: I’m about the same, I like October because it’s even cooler and the nights are clear and you can see more stars and just connect with things.
What inspires your choices when it comes to plants?
Henry: Well for me it’s are they drought tolerant, can they take the heat and the sun. With the sandy soil here it doesn’t hold much moisture so if you aren’t here for a few days they have to be able to get by on their own. And I like colour. But you know you can have 4″ of rain here and be cutting the grass by 10 in the morning, it doesn’t stick around.
Ann: It’s the colours and it’s also what it can bring in, like the sunflowers. We’re not really hanging basket people because they do dry out so much but I mean we made an exception this year with the Black-Eyed Susan because we really really love Black-Eyed Susan.
What dreams do you have for your garden?
Henry: We’re satisfied and we’ll see next year the things we’re going to plant in here. See this year we put in pansies, that was her idea, I said they’re not going to survive through the Summer and here we are in August already and they’re still blooming and I said Okay, that was an experiment.
Ann: I would like to see more areas, I know he does most of it but I would like to see little tiny sections pop up that would have more things like for example where we have the stuff under the trees we never had that much before and I want to keep widening it. Less grass, more flowers.
Henry: But as you get older, you don’t have the energy to keep that up.
Ann: Because I’m ten years younger.
What would you say is the thing that you do best in your garden?
Ann: Taking care of all the different creatures, I also love to knit a lot in my garden, so spending time out here taking care of creatures just watching everything. We make a really big habit every day of going around and getting all the spider webs because we don’t want anybody getting caught and getting hurt, we make sure that the dragonflies because so many times we come by and they are dangling upside down…
Henry: Yes and the damselflies get stuck in those spider webs so easy, if you don’t get them out soon they exhaust themselves.
Ann: Yes, so we make sure that nobody gets caught and we make sure that we go around all the pretty flowers because that’s where our favourite friends want to migrate to and that’s where the spiders, they’re smart they make their webs around them.
Henry: I have a stick in the front and a stick in the back and I walk around the house cleaning all the cobwebs up
Ann: Yup we clean them all up, that’s one of the things that are really important to us, is to make sure that nobody gets eaten on our watch.