Anne Darragh is a family physician who grew up in Calgary and has been an eco-friendly gardener here and in
B.C’s Columbia Valley for 35 years. She has used companion planting, insecticidal soap,
and mulches for weed control with great success. Anne is concerned about the environmental
and impact and health risk of pesticides. “I have a child and believe that there are healthy
alternative ways to landscape that don’t utilize toxic substances.”
Anne’s biggest eco-friendly gardener challenge: “Learning to how to develop a healthy lawn when I
moved into a house in Tuscany that had already been overtaken by weeds and was very
unhealthy. I chose an organic fertilizer and pest control program from a Calgary company.
They used corn gluten to prevent weed germination and while they offered to spot spray the
existing dandelions, I chose to hand weed them. In the first year, I dug out 50 dandelions, in
the second year 20 and in the third year, I dug out 6 dandelions. My neighbours asked what
company I was using because the lawn looked fabulous after a few years.”
“For me the best part was the peace of mind knowing that my daughter could play barefoot
in the yard and that my dogs could run in the yard without risk. I believe there are lots of
long-term effects we’re only beginning to measure years later with exposure to pesticides and
there is no justification in my mind for using pesticides when great alternatives are available.
The health effects are the reason why I started gardening organically.”
Anne is now planning and planting a brand new yard in Aspen Hills in Calgary with the help
of Laureen Rama and Eco-Yards TM. “I have chosen to go with eco-friendly planting so I can
avoid the need for any kind of pest control other than a little bit of time now and again.“
Anne has chosen to have only enough hardy grass lawn for her dogs to play on, raised
vegetable beds, fruit and berry trees (apples, cherries, honeyberries, currants, saskatoons) so
she can raise her own food and eat the 100 mile diet – growing her food locally to prevent the
ecological impact of food transport. She will also have beautiful hardy perennial flowers for
beauty and colour.
Anne says ”I think of my yard as an extension of the environment around us, using the
environment around us to create a space in which we can co-habit with nature, produce food,
and not do any harm, We put in a French Drain that takes rain water straight from the
downspout off the roof into an underground pipe and then weeping tile into the shrub beds.
We also used local logs cut down by arborists anyway and locally produced paving stones.”
“I was going to sell this house in 5 or 6 years once my daughter has left school. Now I think I
should stay here forever. this yard just creates such good energy. I have a garden and my
daughter and I feel we have a neighbourhood here now – we’ve met the neighbours by talking
about our garden!”