Burnett: An outdoors youth

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my childhood in a neighbourhood that was just on the outskirts of town, with hardworking loving parents who gave me just enough leash to explore my surroundings safely.

We lived on 10 acres of land on Ethel Street, right across from where the Cottonwoods Extended Care Centre is now located, with plenty of old buildings, gullies, fields and woods to keep us occupied.

But the lure of adventure took me and my friends beyond the boundaries to several wonderful places within minutes of our property.

We had many choices and I don’t recall now just how we planned each day during that wonderful time as to where we would wander.

But wander we did, to places like Mill Creek where a short piece of fishing line on a willow pole and a No. 8 hook facilitated a fishing expedition for brook trout.

For bait we used a wad of dough made from a piece of white bread.

If we weren’t at the creek we were following the irrigation ditch through the cherry orchard to the flume that fed it with cool clear water from Mission Creek.

We had our choice of cow pastures or fields with herds of sheep to claim as our own and right across the street from our property was a forest of cottonwood trees with an array of shrubby plants as undergrowth along with an assortment of ground covers.

We were familiar with every inch of those magical places and the inhabitants such as the quail, ring-necked pheasants and marmots were our friends although they were not quite as sure about that as we were. It was our little world and very seldom would my parents or any other adult enter.

But they must have, at some time, had a peek, as I remember overhearing a conversation my mom and dad were having in the kitchen one evening.

Dad was describing the network of paths and trails we had created through the wooded areas and how we probably followed some of the same paths he and his friends carved out of the same woods 35 years earlier when he first came to Kelowna in 1922 as a young boy himself.

Now, many years later, my fondness for a garden path or trail into a fly fishing lake is most likely initiated from my childhood experiences wandering through the forest fields and glens of the neighbourhood where I grew up.

I cannot resist the lure of a path if one is even so much as hinted and this is often reflected in my landscape designs.

Garden paths can range from simple delineations of trodden ground to paving stone walkways and an array of possibilities in between.

So, whether you have a small property or large, whether your landscape is complete or you are in the planning stage, I recommend considering a garden path and garden elements that will provide visual and physical pleasure for you and your visitors for years to come.

And trust me, I’m not leading you down the garden path.

Don Burnett is a local garden expert who hosts a show on AM 1150 Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m.


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