H&G: Casa Sul Fiume

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Together, Sona Vancour-Sist and Anthony Sist have created their dream home on the river.

The story of Sona’s garden starts with a proposal of marriage.

She had been living in Belize during a period of rejuvenation after having sold her home and business. Eventually, Anthony asked her if she was ready to come back to Canada and marry him.

They decided they would settle in a small town. Sona pictured herself riding her bike to get a few groceries, never having to get in the car if she didn’t want to.

A real estate listing first drew them to Creemore, which they had never heard of. Sona says that first house was sold before they even had a chance to view it but they were impressed by Creemore and the hunt for a home continued. Sona recalls telling the real estate agent that she wanted to find a place on the river, and being told she would have to be very, very patient because river properties don’t come available very often.

Two days later, a home on Edward Street West was listed. Sona said they went to see it and as Anthony went into the house to look around, she went into the backyard and down to the river, realizing she was home.

Anthony is a retired builder and was looking for a project. Sona said she could see his eyes twinkling with possibility.

That was seven years ago, and they have been working away at transforming the home into a place of peace and tranquillity, creativity, family and love.

Believing that grass is a waste of space, Sona has transformed the entire front yard into a garden, negating the need for a lawnmower. The garden is bombarded by bees, bugs and hummingbirds feeding off a variety of perennials, herbs, vegetables and shrubs, all planted together along the riverstone lined pathways.

“I’m a messy gardener,” she says. “People call them weeds, I call them unloved flowers.”

When she started the garden, Sona said she would accept any plants on offer and took scoops of this and that from anyone looking to make room in their garden. She is now looking to incorporate more native species.

Referring to herself as a hippie and a ‘bit of a witch,’ Sona uses plants and herbs to make tinctures and oils. She dries everything she can harvest from the garden, including flowers which adorn the house and her little cottage in the backyard, where she paints with watercolours and does wool felting.

The backyard is furnished with several areas for dining and lounging, whether in a shaded pergola with the table set for guests, or a fireside gathering. In the evening, little twinkle lights illuminate the pathway to the river.

Between them, Sona and Anthony have three adult children who refer to their parents’ home as “the cottage.”

Since moving to their Casa Sul Fiume – Italian for house on the river – Sona and Anthony have hosted two weddings there, their own under a blue moon in January of 2018, and their nephew’s this past summer.

Sona said she has also focussed on planting fruit trees and bushes, and she realized that she was subconsciously planting for the next generation. She is over the moon at the arrival of her first grandchild this month and sees a future where she will be picking berries with him in the coming years.

“I am gardening for the future,” she said. “I think that’s the way gardeners are.”

Open gardens

Sona’s garden is a new addition to this year’s open garden tour organized by the Vorstermans from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 22-23.

The gardens of Paul and Charlotte Vorstermans, located at the corner of Mill and Edward Streets, has evolved over more than 25 years into a series of seven garden “rooms” that cover most of their half acre lot. Charlotte is the master gardener and Paul designs the hardscape. The Vorstermanses’ garden is located at 113 Mill St.

Three other open gardens include: 17 Elizabeth St. W., by Jaki Skillings 3 Elizabeth St. W. by Bev Stableforth Sona’s garden is located at 19 Edward St. W.

For more information visit www.creemoregarden.ca.

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