Gnome leads Langley yard makeover

Langley City’s Anna Towle was in shock when she returning home from a trip to the B.C. Interior to find her front yard literally transformed into what she calls a sanctuary.

Towle had been “Gnominated.”

Garden designer Ryan Donohoe, a team of volunteers, as well as several of Towle’s family and friends (oh yeah, and Dug the Gnome) recently spent four days renovating her garden, and the metamorphosis was astonishing, the homeowner told the Langley Advance.

“Every time I drive home, even now, I say, ‘who lives here?’ It looks like it should be on a magazine cover… It’s like a little paradise. It’s beautiful,” she said of her new front yard.

“I was in shock really, for at least a week. Actually, I think I still am,” Towle said.

“I’m so deeply touched. I feel so unworthy, but so grateful,” she added. “It boggles my mind that all of these lovely people would put in all their time and effort for me.”

This transformation, if billed out, would be worth about $15,000, but was all made possible thanks to volunteers and donations, Donohoe explained.

Towle, who recently lost her father and was in the Interior to visit her mother on his birthday, returned home to one of the most moving moments of her life.

“She seemed like a good fit for the project,” Donohoe said, noting it’s been a challenging year for the mother with two adult children.

She was the third person to be Gnominated, and now the program founder is seeking future worthy candidates.

The Get Gnominated program all started a year ago, when Donohoe – a Vancouver landscaper –  turned to a marketing friend to help develop his company’s Facebook account.

“As a thank you, I decided to renovate their front garden beds one day, when they weren’t home,” he said.

“Needless to say, they were pleasantly surprised and appreciative of the service. I left her home thinking of ways I could further develop this surprise service, and turn it into a community program that is playful, creative, and interactive,” Donohoe explained.

That was the start.

The transformations happen while the candidate is away, usually on a get-away with the nominator.

“Imagine the sense of love and connection your candidate will feel when they walk into their newly renovated space and all of their friends and family members are there to welcome him or her home,” Donohoe said.

“Although Dug will be long gone by that time, he will leave his loving touch with a handwritten letter explaining why he or she was selected, by whom, and how the candidate inspired and impacted everyone.”

“Get Gnominated is my company’s way to give back to the community,” he said, hoping the program can gain momentum and he can do at least two a year.

“If you know someone who loves gardening, is an outstanding member of society who gives back in one form or another, and perhaps could use a pick-me-up because of a recent string of events, they are the perfect candidate to be Gnominated.”

To nominate someone, people can visit and tell Dug the Gnome about the special person and why they deserve a surprise garden renovation.

“Tell Dug. He’s a magic man… He creates a renovation and design, and then he’s gone,” Donohoe said. But what Dug and the team leave behind is more than just a garden but a real connection between people.

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