North Shore Gardening Life

Days Until First Frost


Jennifer Langille and Elizabeth Spence have been gardening buddies for a very long time.  

They live in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. Jennifer runs the site; Elizabeth does the writing.


A hardy hibiscus bloom in my garden – an exotic showstopper.

I have loved gardens and the natural world since I was a child. My parents were nature lovers, and on family camping trips and hikes, I eagerly soaked up my father’s lessons on how to identify the beautiful trees of New Brunswick forests.

We sucked the delicate sweetness from lilac florets; rolled balsam fir needles between our fingers and “chewed” spruce gum. 

Despite my youthful grumblings about the heat and the prickly raspberry thorns in our family’s small garden, I learned all about turning soil, treasuring earthworms, planting seeds, and immensely enjoying our homegrown food.  

My own garden in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia started off as a forest wilderness. Turning it into the private little oasis it now is has brought me immeasurable joy over the years.  I love growing everything.

But a garden is never finished, and for me, from the beginning, there have always been questions – and questions, and questions. That has meant lots of research: reading books; seeking online information; consulting people who know about gardening. 

After a while I realized that there were more solutions hiding out in the world than I had ever imagined.

Because of this I decided to go a step further and took the full Master Gardener Program at Dalhousie University.  Here I learned so much, and I recognized even more clearly that the learning never stops.  

There will always be more questions as circumstances change. Just as in life, when we think we have an aspect of the garden just right, nature throws in a hurricane or two, just to keep us on our toes.

When I’m not in my garden, I train in Shotokan Karate and also enjoy skiing, yoga and playing in the kitchen. 

Some pictures from Jennifer’s Tatamagouche Garden


I love wearing hats everywhere – not only in the garden.

My mother was a dedicated gardener.  She opened my eyes to the beauty of plants when I was still very young.

Growing up in the UK in the 1950s and 60s I was lucky enough to follow BBC television programmes such as Percy Thrower’s Gardening Club beginning in 1956 and to see the start of Gardeners’ World in 1968, also first introduced by Percy in his suit and tie.  

Then there was the farmer and TV personality, Ted Moult, who was full of all sorts of useful information and always claimed that “the answer lies in the soil.”  In the newspaper there was “Adam the Gardener,” a cartoon figure who gave weekly gardening advice.  On the radio there was Gardener’s Question Time after Sunday lunch.

My professional life was spent in academia when I had little time for practical gardening.  I did read voraciously on the subject though, and took as many courses from the Royal Horticultural Society as I could. The topic was a private obsession.

My dream came true when I moved to a heritage property with four acres in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.   The grounds were a blank canvas with remnants of what I later discovered to have been fine gardens which had flourished there at the end of the 19th century. 

At last I was able to apply the knowledge I had gathered over the years.  And I’m still at it, but on a second ancient property now. 

In my non-gardening life, I direct the Tatamagouche Chamber Ensemble music group and hold piano recitals in my home.  I’m also mad about heritage house restoration.  I hate cooking.

Some pictures from Elizabeth’s  Tatamagouche Garden

Subscribe for Monthly Updates