I had the privilege of visiting a very special cottage property last fall, on Deer Island off Honey Harbour. The owner, John, had recently purchased the nine-acre site. He told me he wants to enhance the front of the cottage with native plants and do some landscaping to the rear where there is a wetland as well as an area that appears to have served as a dump. He has no background as a cottager, but his family is ready for the experience – and while he doesn’t consider himself a gardener, he does enjoy the work.
I waited for John at the Nautilus Marina on the last Sunday in October, a lovely late fall day – chilly to start with, but warming up quickly as the sun came out. We jumped into his little aluminum motorboat and chugged out to the main channel between Beausoleil Island and Deer Island. There’s a pleasant old-time feel to the cottages – no McMansions here. John’s is a bungalow nestled in the trees, high above the water. Two nearby “bunkies” will accommodate grandchildren and other anklebiters. The previous owner built stone terracing all the way down to the water. It fits in perfectly with the rocks and the trees and the water. A job well done.
We jump off onto a rickety dock. John has planted hostas and bee balm (“rightly or wrongly,” he says deprecatingly). “They’ll have to go,” I said, nodding at the hostas, “they totally don’t belong.” John - surprised to learn that hostas are from northeast Asia, mainly Japan - is agreeably unfazed. His bee balm is native, although it’s a dwarf cultivar, and cultivars don’t always fulfill the original species plant’s ecological functions such as feeding birds and other creatures, or hosting insects and other organisms. Read more