Brightening up his back lane has been appreciated by Herb Minderhoud’s neighbours.
Seven years ago, the 76-year-old Martin Avenue West resident decided to lop down the three-foot tall weeds that bordered what was then the Kelvin Community Centre and is now Clara Hughes Recreation Park.
He then planted marigolds in place of the weeds, and the bright flowers line the back alley, bringing butterflies fluttering to the area. Some additions have even sprouted, as a four-headed sunflower stands tall above the marigolds near the midway point of the alley, with Minderhoud saying someone likely planted a seed there.
He added his work has been supported by the community, and not hindered by some who might not be keen.
"It’s city property, but they haven’t come yet. They haven’t admonished me yet," Minderhoud chuckled.
Minderhoud said he bought seeds to plant the flowers when he first got started, but now he harvests the seeds from the flowers each fall to sow in the spring. He picked up one of the marigolds and opened it up to demonstrate how simply the seeds could be acquired.
"If I would have to buy all these plants, it would cost me a small fortune," he said.
During the summer, Minderhoud estimates he spends about an hour a week maintaining the flowers, which he said "gives (him) something to do".
For his efforts, neighbours recently posted three ‘Thank You’ signs along the strip of foliage — one at each end and one in the centre.
"I think that says it all," neighbour Doug Baker, who contacted The Herald to praise Minderhoud’s work, said.
Minderhoud originally moved to Canada from the Netherlands in 1958, residing in Brandon at the time and taking a job in construction. He then moved to Elmwood for a job with Held’s Heating 45 years ago. He worked with the company for nearly 30 years before it went out of business.
Minderhoud said the home he purchased was in rough shape at the time the house moved into the area, but after some hard work, got it together in the first act of community beautification.
"It’s the only place we could afford in 1969," Minderhoud said. "We could buy this property fairly reasonably in those days. We fixed it up, and the taxes are low.
"Some people think it’s terrible to live in Elmwood, but I don’t think so. It is what you make of it."