On Wednesday, my sister, Brenda, and I took off in her yellow convertible Mustang. You might think we were heading to a mall but there are no malls here on Manitoulin Island, where we both have summer homes.
We grabbed our cameras and drove to a part of the Island I’d never seen before. Off the highway and down a long lane flanked by tall grasses and cat tails, we found Pepper Point Gardens.
John Narozanski, owner of the gardens, welcomed us. “We bought the property 30 years ago,” he said. “But, the gardens are only 9 years old.” The property, bounded on three sides by water, had caught their fancy when they’d been young. Both gardeners by trade, now retired, they’ve devoted themselves to transforming this wild, unruly lot into a botanical dream.
John’s wife Jean, the official tour guide, walked toward us on one of several cobbled walkways. We spent the next 45
minutes being surprised at every turn by ponds, water features, gazebos and dry stone walls. Mammoth hostas of many varieties give the gardens a tropical appearance. Roses and flowering vines cling to trellises. Gigantic hydrangeas form a backdrop for purple cone flowers, phlox, gloriosa daisies and many other varieties of perennials. This creative duo adds charm by using discarded stair railings, posts, benches and other reclaimed treasures throughout their garden. Sculptures of stone and wrought iron, some of them gifts to the gardeners, add a whimsical touch.
Near the end of the tour, we stepped onto a sandy beach. “The winter winds whip through here,” Jean said. When the garden goes to sleep for the winter they put up barriers to protect the gardens and the house.
The house, that’s another subject. “It was small when we bought it,” they said. “We’ve just kept adding.” The house doesn’t have that added-onto look. It has settled comfortably into the garden, a large, appealing home with red shutters and flower-strewn verandas – its appearance is as welcoming as its owners, Jean and John.
The Naronzanskis inspired Brenda and I, not to replicate Pepper Point, but to use whatever creative skills we have, to bless God and others.