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Bare yard in Summerside, P.E.I., transformed into a canvas of colourful flowers

Don Duffenais and Lise Genova turned a blank canvas into a work of art for every season.
Don Duffenais and Lise Genova turned a blank canvas into a work of art for every season. - Desiree Anstey
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

Lise Genova didn’t follow the paint-by-numbers planting scheme when transforming her bare Summerside backyard into an exuberant mix of flowers, acrylic paintings, and salvaged roadside items.

With more than 30-years of gardening experience, the talented artist tackled the yard with her husband Don Duffenais to create a level stone surface with flower beds, shrubs, and plants that cascade down fences in a rolling display for every season.

“We’ve been at this property for just over two years and it’s taken time and energy to transform the bare grass into what you see today,” said Genova of her sun-loving perennials, plants hugging the shade, and decorative annuals that add a splash of colour to every corner.

“The hardest part was laying the tarp over, so the weeds wouldn’t grow. Gravel was then added on top, and flower beds plotted – the whole time just the two of us,” said Genova, who is a member of the Summerside and Area Garden Club and recently participated in the annual free Summer Garden Tours.

Artist Lise Genova didn’t follow the paint-by-numbers planting scheme when transforming her bare Summerside backyard into an exuberant mix of flowers, acrylic paintings, and salvaged roadside items.
Artist Lise Genova didn’t follow the paint-by-numbers planting scheme when transforming her bare Summerside backyard into an exuberant mix of flowers, acrylic paintings, and salvaged roadside items.

Creeping clematis, grapes and honeysuckle grow in sections on the fence for added privacy. Plants are tucked neatly into beds, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. There’s one section that runs along the fence for growing vegetables and herbs, while slabs of stone offer a defined path through the gravel.

“I like colour that’s for sure,” she said. “And with the time you learn a lot of things on where to put plants, in the shade or sun, and space they require for growth. It’s a passion.”

Decorative pieces quietly emerged from the flowers; a solar-powered water fountain, a lobster trap found on the side of the road and transformed into a plant holder, a wooden bird sculpture by chainsaw carver Wayne Ellis, an open teapot offering birds a shelter, a lion’s head shrouded in a mane of green foliage. 

Among the pieces of pizzazz were water-resistant acrylic paintings created by Genova, subtly placed.

“I like to put little accents in the garden that surprise you, so when you walk around the corner you have to look twice,” she said, while acknowledging the “queen of the garden” is a giant hosta.

Duffenais, while aged 72,  built the wooden birdhouses, sheltered seating areas, canopy entrance to the backyard, wooden plant holders that pop around the garden, and a showstopper of a front deck.

“I’m sure Lise will have another project on the horizon for me,” he grinned.

From every angle, the yard is a pruned tapestry of texture and colour – just like Genova’s paintings that hang in a showroom on the premises.

“It’s very spiritual for me because, when you garden, you forget about everything else and just focus on the beauty. The garden constantly evolves. It’s a pleasure to watch. You listen to the water trickle from the fountains and birds singing, it’s just a good therapy that puts a smile on your face,” she said.

Details in Lise Genova's Summerside, P.E.I., garden.
Details in Lise Genova's Summerside, P.E.I., garden.

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