Joy Bruca has three simple philosophies about gardening and about life in general.
Work hard. Share what you have. Know that the more you help others, the more blessings you will receive.
Bruca, a spunky extrovert with a smile as warm as summer rain is already preparing for this year’s horticultural and bench show.
On Wednesday, her day off from two jobs, she has already picked two ice cream pails full of raspberries and is busy making raspberry jam. The rest of her day off she spent tending her huge vegetable garden.
But, still she makes time to chat and go out for supper with a friend.
She responded to an impromptu phone call from the Review asking for an interview, admitting she cannot get into her driveway with her car as it is filled with huge pots of flowers.
However, she agrees to the interview.
She is right about the flowers. Sweet peas spill in reckless abandon along the fence line, and the driveway itself is lined with pots of wonderful flowers of all kinds and in every colour of the rainbow.
While making coffee and serving this delicious melt in your mouth cake, she chats easily about her life, her work and her gardens.
She came from the Philippines in 1993, working in Hong Kong for five years before coming to Canada.
Living in Canada is wonderful, she said.
“This country is the best in the west.”
She moved to Rimbey in the late ‘90s. It was a good move. She loves the people and the community, itself, and feels safe here.
“It’s a nice little town,” she said. “The people are good.”
Bruca works at long-term care in the Rimbey Hospital and also is a home care worker through FCSS.
“I work hard,” she said, matter-of-factly.
Presently her niece and her cousin live with her and she is pleased to share her home with family.
Bruca grows her flowers and vegetables from seed. Over the years she has come to learn where and when to plant and how to coax stubborn seeds into becoming healthy, prize winning plants.
She doesn’t have a greenhouse, but starts her plants n the window of her home.
“For the light,” she explains.
“I was a gardener in the Philippines as well,” she said, adding somewhat shyly that she also won prizes there for her plants and flowers.
Bruca comes by her love of gardening honestly.
“My mother just loved her flowers,” she recalled fondly. “My mother grew beautiful orchids.”
As she shows off the rows of vegetables in her garden, Bruca explains what type they are and the conditions needed for them to realize their full potential.
Leeks need to be planted deep – the deeper the better, she said. Celery is grown inside two-litre milk cartons.
“I was at the Co-op and people were asking me how to grow celery,” she said with a chuckle.
She notices her peas are turning slightly yellow and she said that means the weather is getting colder.
Regardless, her garden looks lovely; all green and stretching the entire width and length of her back yard.
It seems as if it holds enough produce to feed a small army.
“I’ve never measured it,” she said with a grin, “but I don’t waste the land.”
Bruca said she gives much of her garden produce to her friends.
“It’s my recreation, my pastime and I share it with people; share with my friends.”
She admits her garden has never failed.
“Everything has been chopped up with hail,” she said, making a large circle with her thumb and middle finger to show how large the hailstones were. “But it bounced back.”
Now her onions lay almost flat against the ground, a testimonial to the strong winds Rimbey and area experienced a few weeks ago.
Last year, Bruca won the Alberta Horticultural Rosette with 148 points and 68 entries at the horticultural show.
She plans to enter about 50 exhibits this year, but that number is subject to change.
“Maybe more,” she said.