Virden Garden Tours

Continuing down the garden path to Jennifer's Catio and Andrew Morden's vegetables

Garden tours arranged by Virden Garden Club took place July 29, providing a wide variety of sightseeing and inspiration for gardeners. Continuing with these feature yards includes a great design for cat lovers and inspiration for those whose main interest is practical – vegetable gardening. On the outskirts of Virden, two lovely large acreages were also on the tour, as well as the rural yard of Ken and Gwen Clarke.

Jennifer’s catio

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“It’s therapy coming out here,” says Jennifer Chapman, which catches the attention of other outdoor enthusiasts on the yard tour. “I love gardening...your perspective just changes.”

Crazy Cat lady, says a sign inside Todd Beltz and Jennifer Chapman’s fenced yard. True to the sign, Chapman has four cats and an extensive enclosure for them to enjoy the run of the yard, so to speak.

The catio or Cat’s Den as it is branded, lets their four cats go outside and it extends between the house and a backyard shed. Some parts of the catio are very large cages, with different levels for the cats to lounge or play, while other parts are long runways, a means for the cats to travel throughout the yard.

The family’s four matching cats, several of them rescues, all have Siamese markings. They appear to enjoy their catio. One of the cats in particular continues to hunt mice and birds, from inside its confines.

Even in winter, one of the cats continues to venture outside.

This yard fence was purchased from Habitat Haven, a company in Ontario. Chapman swears by its durability. She says it ships pre-built, but needs to be assembled.

Throughout the well groomed and shady yard, pieces of natual décor such as driftwood and yard figurines add interest.


Andrew Morden

The next host, Andrew Morden, offers bottled water on the way into the back yard. Here, a few large stones with ornamental grass and purple coneflowers surround the cement patio. The stones were purchased from Clarkes Contracting. He explains the use of heavy duty landscape fabric with the stone covering means there is minimal work to keep it tidy.

Morden wears a Green Spot tee shirt and sure enough – he used to work at that Brandon plant store. He advises that good landscape fabric is worth the extra cost; it can last up to 15 years.

Morden’s favourite part of his neat back yard is a large vegetable garden, with not a weed to be seen, but among short rows of healthy growing vegetables the peas were ready to pick by the end of July, tomatoes large and green; the corn has well formed cobs..

His vegetable garden is well watered in Virden’s sandy loam soil. Morden brings out his secret to good growth, a bag of fertilizer called Original Sea Salt, which says it will enhance the organic content of the soil.

Morden says he has a busy work schedule, but nods toward his garden saying, “I put in as much time as I can out here... instead of sitting inside watching TV, I’d rather be out here doing something."

© Virden Empire-Advance