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Her own secret garden

Posted August 27, 2014 in Community Featured, Beaverdale
Erin Ellis relaxes in the backyard of her sister’s home in Beaverdale, where she is house sitting. Photos by Chris Kelly.

Erin Ellis relaxes in the backyard of her sister’s home in Beaverdale, where she is house sitting. Photos by Chris Kelly.

Erin Ellis is a professional house sitter — for now, anyway.

“It’s my fall-back career,” she jokes as she re-plots a fresh round of sunflowers.

See, the house Ellis has called home for the past two years isn’t completely hers.

It all began when her older sister, Sharon, received word that her lifelong dream was about to become a reality.

“My sister always wanted to do something to give back, and one day she got the chance. Traveling with the Peace Corps has been a dream of hers since we were little, but she didn’t want to leave her house to just anybody,” says Ellis.

So the house isn’t wholly hers, but that doesn’t make her feel any less attached. In fact, she appreciates the majority of the décor — from the new benches and faux patio in the back to the hanging plants and African-inspired tapestries littered throughout the home.

One thing that Ellis can truly claim as her own, however, is the precisely decorated and flourishing backyard.

“I was the always the one in the family with the green thumb. Sharon said as long as I don’t trash the place, I can really do whatever I want, and so far I haven’t gotten any angry letters or phone calls from Central America,” Ellis says.

When she isn’t crunching numbers as a financial analyst in her 9-to-5, it’s all about getting her hand dirty in her own makeshift backyard. From homegrown tomatoes to fresh-smelling flowers, nothing is off limits in her own personal Beaverdale secret garden.

Ellis attributes nature to her love for creativity and expression.

“I spend a lot of time painting and writing back here,” she says as she scribbles in a journal.

Paintings and other artwork line the walls of her room.

“If my sister ever reads this, make sure to put that I hung them with command hooks, not nails,” Ellis says. “She would kill me if she knew I damaged her walls.”

No worries — no damage to report.

erinsfrontyardGrowing up in small-town Iowa, Ellis always dreamed of living a little closer to a big city, and she says that after 25 years, she finally has found where she belongs.

As for living on borrowed space?

“Well, it’s better than living on borrowed time,” Ellis jokes. “I’m sure my sister will head to another country next year — and the year after that and again after that. I have this feeling I’ll be in house sitting a long time and I’m perfectly okay with that.”

Would you like your home featured in this column in an upcoming issue of Beaverdale Living? If so, email Darren Tromblay at

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