STANDING in his backyard, surveying the immediate vicinity, Bert Pulles smiles and says, “The work starts this weekend.”
The 85-year-old Mission resident is preparing to get his own personal oasis back in shape now that spring has arrived.
In the summer, his yard is filled with flowers, a waterfall and pond – it’s a setting perfect for hosting a wedding, which Pulles has done in the past.
However, right now, there are tree limbs to clear away, flower beds to rake over and plenty of other work to do.
And while he still does a lot of the work himself, Pulles said he does hire a helper to lend a hand on the five-acre property.
Gardening and landscaping is something he says he loves to do.
Pulles was born in Holland and moved to Canada in 1951, when he was 17 years old. He moved to Mission more than 30 years ago and is best known as “Bert the Mole Man” because of his mole-trap-making business. But Pulles has also been a dedicated member of Mission Communities in Bloom for more than a decade. He is also a director of BC Communities in Bloom.
“I enjoy every bit of it because I think this is one of the best cities in the Lower Mainland,” he said.
Pulles created the original Japanese Friendship Garden located at the Mission and District Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, the design has been altered but it still contains many of his original elements.
Pulles credits former Mission mayor James Atebe for convincing him to join Mission Communities in Bloom in 2006.
“He spoke about it and realty motivated me,” Pulles said.
Once he started, he couldn’t stop. He says he likes to stay busy. In his spare time he makes between 8,000 and 10,000 mole traps a year and sells them everywhere.
“I’m going to retire when I’m 102, then I’m going to travel for three years. After that, I don’t know yet. I don’t want to plan that far ahead.”
This year, Mission Communities in Bloom is planning to hold a contest.
“We are already registered for it. We’ve done it in the past and are going to have two judges coming at the end of June,” explained Pulles.
This year’s contest is a little different than the streetscape event. This year people need to register, because backyards will also be viewed.
“A lot of people have said, ‘You should see my backyard,’ but we cannot walk in there unless they sign up for the contest,” Pulles explained, adding that organizers are looking for gardens with the “wow” factor.
He is hoping to set up a display garden – maybe at Save-On-Foods or Fraser Valley Building Supply – to promote the contest and accept registrations.
Later in the summer, judges will travel to Mission and tour the district, including some of the local winning gardens.
Of course, Mission Communities in bloom is about more than contests.
The organization has a successful school program as well. Pulles said they are hoping to have between 17-19 schools participating this year.
“This year we are going to let the schools do whatever they shine at. In the past we have given them guidelines, but it’s wide open this year; do whatever they do best – flowers, vegetables or even recycling. A recycling program is part of Communities in Bloom.”
The organization is always looking for more volunteers to lend a hand. Anyone interested can visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/beautifymission.