Carolyn’s Corner: The Last House Standing – Nature Reserve and Neighbour Labour


by Carolyn, Calgary’s Home Gardener Helper

There is a collective of reclusive residents living high on the hill in and around one of “The Last Houses Standing” in the community of Marda Loop. You may know the one: a 1910 home perched on a corner lot with stone masoned retaining walls, unruly caragana hedges, and wild look about it. But rest assured there is always activity in this pocket of paradise right smack dab in the middle of mid-city suburbia. Whether you hear the owner puttering around in the yard, see birds twittering about, watch squirrels scampering with pinecones, or the hear buzz of bees siphoning nectar from flowers, activity abounds. Would you believe this property is also a safe haven for a small family of bobcats? They do not venture far, preferring the safety of this sanctuary that offers food (sorry squirrels) and shelter within the brush. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all encouraged little wildlife corridors throughout the city? Homeowners working together to connect their yards and who aren’t afraid of the ‘wild side’ like this ‘Mardadore’ property. Well, a skunk or two may have been trapped since the writing of this article…

Spring clean-up involves lot of raking. Leaves from the majestic Cottonwoods arching over the house are swept under the cover of caragana and cotoneaster hedges. Rogue shrubs and perennials to sprout up throughout gives a real lived-in, lush look that defies the order. Only minimal pruning is required for a nicer appearance and sidewalk clearance. The owner has been maintaining this property on his own for over 40 years. He relies on others to help with the yard work and shovel the oversize corner lot in winter. Do you know a teenager who needs a part time job that requires no driving? Or a resident that just wants to help out others? Setting up a ‘Neighbour Labour’ initiative in your community is the latest fad… or the oldest practice. Let’s prune those kids off their video games and plugged into the games of life. It all starts with a job and a purpose no matter who or how old you are. Let’s invest in the people who will protect our natural world one yard, one community, and one city at a time.

Viva Calgary!