Most summer days, Sylvan Lake’s Joel McCutcheon is in his garden pulling weeds, tending flowers and mowing.
But there are times you’ll find him in the raspberry patch eating what he grew.
The 74-year-old has been gardening all his life.
Today, he has about a half-an-acre sized yard where he grows thousands of flowers, fruit and vegetables.
The property McCutcheon lives on today, near NexSource Centre, on 48th Avenue, is where he grew up.
“My parents and grandparents were here as well,” he said.
“I was next door to (my father), that’s the two lots on the property.”
After his parents died, McCutcheon and his wife Susan tore down that house to make more room for trees and flower beds.
While living next door to each other, McCutcheon and his father gardened together.
Initially, there weren’t any flowers, because his father’s gardening motto was: you eat what you grow.
But slowly, McCutcheon found his love for flowers and started putting in flowerbeds.
“My grandmother liked flowers too, and that’s where I started growing flowers – I used to grow her flowers,” he said.
Today, there are many flower varieties in his garden, including petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, cosmos, zinnias, gladiolus and alyssum.
“I grow about 4,000 to 5,000 annuals every year, and then I have perennials.”
McCutcheon also grows vegetables and fruit and eats them all summer: cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, corn, raspberries, Saskatoon berries, strawberries and cherries.
“We don’t have to buy any vegetables in the summer. We do eat our own peas all year and potatoes and onions.”
The retired chemist, who was an instructor at Red Deer College, spends about four to six hours in the garden every day in the summer.
The process initially starts in his basement around February, then gets moved to the greenhouse – which he built himself – before moving out to the garden.
A welcome sign posted outside the garden is for the public. There are visitors in the garden every day.
“I get a lot of questions about the flowers, and ‘why am I doing this,’ and is it a town garden?” McCutcheon said with a chuckle.
Those who come for a tour also get some flowers to take home.
“I just like to garden, and if I can give something that people enjoy, then that’s fine. I’m not looking for any benefit out of it, other than the joy I get out of growing things.”
Like most gardeners, McCutcheon doesn’t enjoy weeds in his yard. Dandelion and deer also don’t make the cut. What he does enjoy in his garden is order.
His wife Susan helps in the spring to plant and harvest at the end of the season.
The rainfall and the ongoing heat wave this summer have been helpful, especially to corn and sunflowers that have been missing the heat, he said.