SUMMERSIDE – Twenty-one years ago Brian Warren’s wife Bev had a stroke and their lives changed forever.
Suddenly preoccupied with his wife’s continuing care, the retiree found refuge in his garden.
A life-long lover of all things green and growing, Warren devoted what little free time he had to his home’s modest green space at 2 Dale Drive.
For more than 30 years he has tended to its every detail.
Every flower and every blade of grass has its place. There’s colour everywhere in fantastical shades of every shape and description.
It has become an extension of his very soul; his refuge from life’s trials and tribulations.
“It was a stressful time in our lives and a lot of times you think, we can’t make it. But you’re dealt the cards, you got to play them. But we got through it,” said Warren.
“Bev doesn’t mind I do this – she knows I need an outlet. She never says I’m never spending enough time with her, and I hope I do. But she says ‘I know you need this.’ To me, everyone needs – something,” he said.
On Friday, Warren and a number of other local green thumbs were honoured for their work by the City of Summerside’s Communities in Bloom Awards.
Warren won once before, a number of years ago. However, his garden has changed since then.
Every year brings a new set of challenges for a gardener, he said.
“I love the award but I would have looked for it. I don’t know how my name got in there,” he said.
Communities in Bloom is a national competition where judges visit communities and rate them on their overall aesthetic appeal.
This is the competition’s 20th anniversary. Summerside has participated every year of the competition and has placed well or won its category on multiple occasions.
The two judges for Summerside’s “champion” category were in the city on Friday for the awards ceremony and their judging tour.
Trent Williams, the city’s horticulturalist, said at the ceremony that the program has benefited Summerside tremendously over the years.
“We learned a lot from Communities in Bloom. How we can make our community better, how we can entice people to want to be involved in the program, but also too to create some excitement about community pride,” he said.
The national winners of Communities in Bloom are announced near the end the fall. This year’s conference and awards ceremony is being held in Charlottetown, Sept. 17 and 20.