You may have heard the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
OK, the focus of this article is landscaping and gardening, not fish, but the message of the proverb holds true in the case of Charlotte’s Place, an innovative little gardening and landscaping company run by a dynamo of a lady named Charlotte Tataryn.
Charlotte’s philosophy doesn’t sound especially unique. She works with clients and helps them to understand how to use their house and yard space to best match their needs and lifestyles.
I’m sure many landscapers have similar creeds, but it’s the application of this customer service motif that separates Charlotte from her competition.
She works solo. She won’t sell a client on a grand vision for a yard only to pass him off to a team of unknown workers. Charlotte is the team. She works with every client from the start to the end of a project.
Charlotte and her customers collaboratively imagine an inspirational yard space, choose appropriate foliage, shop for plants and work the land. While she will take on a landscaping job entirely on her own, Charlotte prefers to train the client to become the gardener in the process and to take ownership of the yard’s evolving shape.
The energetic landscaper is a stickler about using recycled material. She searches for and uses discarded or trashed bricks, fountains, abandoned furniture, broken concrete pieces, and turns them into functional yard art.
Old newspaper, natural and cost-effective, is reused as landscaping cloth. She finds ample newspapers and other treasures on slow drives down back lanes just before recycling day.
She even reuses dead plants, partnering them with young vines to bring new life to seemingly worthless foliage. In her own yard, a clematis artfully wraps around the skeletal remains of a dead kiwi. Charlotte throws nothing away.
She began her landscaping odyssey 15 years ago, when she destroyed a carefully constructed slab patio in her own backyard and reconfigured the broken pieces into a rustic courtyard with a pastoral feel. She fondly recalls turning a distinctly "bland yard" into an outlet for her design savvy and passion, and she has never looked back.
Her small yard in St. Boniface is a showpiece space with a meandering series of short walkways and amazing plants on every side of each walkway. She grooms her yard every day, even after a long day working in a client’s yard.
"It’s my passion, an extension of me and it’s restorative," she says.
Charlotte believes that a garden is a place to express yourself, and while it may be easier to hire a company to do all the work, "it will never be as personally satisfying as doing the work yourself."
She believes that "gardening is good for the soul" and that a garden or yard can become a space to truly expresses your inner artist.
If you’re staring at your own yard, confused about its potential, you may want to contact this lady. She philosophizes, at times, like a budding Emerson or Thoreau, but she is also very practical and sensible about getting down to work and turning a garden into a unique and inviting space. She’ll work with any type of budget.
Check out her yard at 487 Rue De La Morenie, give her a call for a consultation about your yard at 227-4324, or visit her website, www.charlottesplace.org, to learn more about how she can help you find your inner gardener.
And when you choose to work with this lady, get ready to get your hands dirty.
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.