Deborah is typing on her computer. She says the garden that's growing outside began when she posted an ad online for bowling balls. "Unloved, unwanted bowling balls," she laughs.

"This is my favourite," she points to one of the bowling balls that found its way to her front yard. It's red. 

Deborah is partial to the bright ones because when you post them on a pole it looks like your garden is blooming bowling balls. "It sparks imagination," she smiles.

Although the garden is still a work in progress, there are about thirty balls sprouting around the base of her massive monkey tree. "I love monkey trees," she says before explaining we need to go, "way, way, way back" to understand why.

Deborah shows me a black-and-white photograph of how young she was when she regularly visited a monkey tree near her childhood home. She says the owners of the tree also had a real chimpanzee has a pet. "The chimp scared me," she laughs. "But the tree was just this amazing, curly, spiked-branched thing!"

They also sprouted monkey tree seed pods. "They kinda look like a hedgehog," Deborah says while showing me one in her hand.

Deborah's son Joseph says they may look like hedgehogs, but (and his aunt told him this a child so it must be true) they definitely are "monkey seeds." Joseph says, with a knowing smile, that if you care for monkey seeds properly, they will grow monkeys.

And if you look up into their monkey tree, you will see more than dozen plush toy monkeys hanging from the branches.

"It’s been a long, ongoing, fun, pet project," he explains. "Between me and my family and extended family."

Family members of all ages – both residing and visiting – are responsible for nurturing the monkey seeds to their primate potential. Along with providing the usual sun and water, "you have to acknowledge [the tree] when you're arriving and leaving," Deborah explains with a laugh.

"How do you do that?," I ask. 

"Smiles and giggles," Joseph answers. "Every day!"

No matter how grey the weather or dark their mood, they say, they take a moment to be positive around the tree daily. The exercise has rewarded them with – not just plenty of primates – but genuine happiness. "It nurtures joy!," Joseph says. "We love it!" Deborah laughs.

And if you are hoping to cultivate some joy, but your monkey tree seeds seem dormant, Joseph has a suggestion.

"It might have something to do with the bowling balls," he smiles.

Just fertilizing the base of the tree with a few bowling balls, and that first ape should appear in no time.

"When you see a new face," Joseph says. "It's pretty hard not to smile!"