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Garden party

Cedar Crest tour showcases spectacular patio gardens

Created date

September 20th, 2016
Colleen Canavan placed benches in her garden (shown at left) where she can enjoy the view and colorful blooms. Karnig Thomasian and Inga Brandimarte (shown at right) in their patio garden at Cedar Crest.

Colleen Canavan placed benches in her garden (shown at left) where she can enjoy the view and colorful blooms. Karnig Thomasian and Inga Brandimarte (shown at right) in their patio garden at Cedar Crest.

On June 12, during National Garden Week, more than 65 residents enjoyed the beauty of their neighbors’ patio gardens during Cedar Crest’s Birdhouse and Garden Tour.

The tour featured the patio gardens of residents Colleen Canavan and Karnig Thomasian. 

Majestic mountain garden

Colleen’s garden backs up to a majestic rocky slope. Its dramatic archway entrance from her light-filled sunroom leads to a backyard filled with a wide variety of colorful flowers in pots, bird houses, and benches for guests to enjoy the view.  

This is the eighth year Colleen has opened up her garden for the tour. She loves her garden because it reminds her of her childhood home near the Rocky Mountains in Idaho.  

Before moving to Cedar Crest ten years ago, Colleen lived in River Edge, N.J., where she and her husband raised their seven children. She has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 

“My life is good,” says Colleen, who lives in a two-bedroom, two-bath Washington-style apartment home located on the corner of the building. Aside from her stunning garden and view, Colleen’s home features two walk-in closets and an abundance of natural light from its eight windows and sliding glass door.  

“She’s from Idaho,” says Collen’s oldest daughter, Kathy McKenna, “so I said, ‘Mom, you have your own Rocky Mountain behind you. To me, the rock wall and the greenery make you feel like you live in a house. This is a huge apartment and there’s so many windows.’”

Kathy says Cedar Crest has been a “godsend because there are so many activities here. It keeps people active and it keeps them interested. The family’s in love with the fact that Mom chose Cedar Crest.”

‘Our oasis’

This is the second year Karnig displayed his garden as part of the tour. His patio features a stunning assortment of planted trees and flowers accessible from his living room’s sliding glass door. 

With the help of his girlfriend Inga Brandimart, he designed and built the walls. Inga, who used to garden with her grandmother in Germany, chose the floral arrangement. 

The layout of his Hastings-style apartment home allows for garden views from both bedrooms and the living area. 

“It is our oasis,” Inga says.

Karnig has always had a passion for gardening. At his former house in River Edge, N.J., he designed a garden with ponds, a river, and a waterfall. Over the summer, he built a pond for his garden in Cedar Crest’s community garden area, which is home to 110, 8- by 8-foot garden beds, both raised and ground level.

Karnig also led an effort to overhaul the toolshed and make other improvements to the community space, including a fence to ward off animals like deer and rabbits. 

“The shed was there, but it was in such a disarray. I had an idea of how to shape it up. I had a sketch of what I would do and asked for help from one or two men in the garden club,” Karnig says.

Together, Karnig and volunteers Ron Paliaga, Jim Hein, and Alex Amend stripped the interior of the shed to the bare wood inside. They installed shelves provided by Project Manager Richard Ferguson, and tubs where club members could store their personal small tools. They painted the shed’s interior and the shelves white.

The shed also stores shared club tools—larger ones like shovels, rakes, and hoes. 

“Karnig did a great job organizing the shed, and we were just so happy with it all,” says garden club president Edith Dombal.

As president, Dombal keeps track of who cares for each garden square. She also plans monthly events throughout the growing season. 

“Our community gardens are just the right size, and knowing they don’t have to give up gardening all together is a big incentive to someone considering a move to Cedar Crest,” says Sales Counselor Ruth Phillips.