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Planters of Plenty
NSG funded Project 2015
Marpole Community, St. Augustine’s Church location, Hudson & 71st St., Vancouver, BC
From a small unused plot of land that previously contained only 1 ancient Weeping Birch tree, 2 Cedar Trees and a Pyracanthas Hedge(with deadly thorns!) grew a little Oasis that draws the eye and pleases all the senses.
Because of the Weeping Birch’s intrusive root system, digging into the soil was impossible.That ancient tree however was there first and was deserving of our respect so we worked with and around it. Thanks go to Rev. Andrew Halladay and the Parishioners of St. Augustine’s Anglican Church for allowing us to transform this plot of land. Thanks also to the Vancouver Foundation for helping to fund this vision.
Thanks to the City of Vancouver for the donation of Composted Soil. That enabled us to form a raised garden bed around the plot’s West and North Perimeter plus fill all the planters and pots. So many people in the Marpole Neighbourhood helped. You all have our gratitude!
Eric F. of St. Augustine’s Anglican Church was our “Shovel Meister” and put in countless back breaking hours shifting soil. He was also responsible for painting the planters and the adjacent Little Free Library. Sid G., Lou G. and Wayne S. also provided valuable assistance, especially in transporting boulders that would help contain the garden bed soil. Fran R. generously donated many buckets of river washed stones to fill the spaces between the boulders that further help stop erosion. Wooden planters,large pots and many plants were also donated by Parishioners and other very generous people in the Marpole Neighbourhood. Thanks all!!
Andrew Halladay, Priest of St. Augustine’s, along with his Parishioners, performed a “Blessing of the Garden” one sunny Spring morning and the space was comforted. It is worthwhile to note that after this blessing, the Basil and other herbs grown grown in this garden were the biggest and healthiest ever!
Passersby stopped frequently to offer us words of encouragement and thanks as the garden developed and grew. Later, many people took time to come inside the garden, sit on the bench, relax and take a break from the City’s hectic pace. There were many Summer evenings when one would find Caregivers helping their elderly companions retrieve lost memories associated with all the surrounding herbs and flowers: Geraniums, Edible Nasturtiums and Borage, Basil, Oregeno, Sage, Savory, Marjoram, Lavender, Rosemary, Chives and more. That was truly heart warming!
The garden bench has 2 special features behind it and both were gleaned from our neighbour’s cast offs. Eric found a serviceable stone fountain that, when set up and filled with water, helped slake the birds’ thirst during our stressful drought days. This fountain is tucked in to the thorny hedge and so provides our feathered friends with extra protection against their predators. Behind the fountain and against the hall wall is a large and lovely mirror that I also gleaned from cast offs. It reflects a beautiful garden picture and gives the illusion of increased depth. My Niece and her family, visiting from Winnipeg, saw that mirror’s reflection and initally thought we had a far bigger space than we did!
The flowering Borage and Lavender were Bee and other Pollinator magnets! Scarlet Runner and Purple Pole Beans grew up the nettings from pots on the ground and attracted Hummingbirds as well as more Pollinators. Cucumbers, both English and Pickling also grew up the nets. Sadly though, the potted Zuchinni did not produce one single vegetable. Hard to believe that we were Zuchinni failures given this vegetable’s usual productivity! We will adjust the container size, soil, soil ammendments and try again next growing season.
Most of the garden’s produce went to the Hudson Hub’s Community Meal Programs, Thursday night dinners and Friday morning breakfasts. Church Parishioners, Neighbours, Hudson Hub participents were also invited to pick and enjoy the herbs and other greens.
Because of the garden’s small size, stand alone events were difficult so we Piggy backed on Mary M.’s “Blankets for Hospice” Events by providing Mixed green salads, Tomatoes, Herbs and a delicious Zuchinni Casserole. The Zuchinnis were bought (refer back to our Zuchinni failure) but most of the other ingredients (other than eggs & cheese) came from the garden. Participants at these 2 events numbered over 30 each time and included representatives from South & Northern Asian Countries, Africa, Russia and Poland. Children, young Adults to Seniors attended as well. Our oldest participant celebrated her 99th year in August!
When the Marpole Neighbourhood House and Marpole Oakridge Family Place was active and operating from the Old Firehall building at 70th and Hudson, children in those programs made clay ornaments. We retrieved many of those ornaments from that location and they now hang on a tree in the new garden. Some of the children who long ago made those ornaments recognized their handiwork as they passed by the garden. Eric, while at our local Library, overheard some of their happy and excited comments and that connection made us all smile!
Overall, the Neighbourhood was and continues to be very respectful of this new garden space and treats it accordingly. Everyone is welcome within and in turn the visitors have made this garden their very own special place.
We are all looking forward to improving and maintaining this garden in the years to come. Thanks to everyone who has helped and continue to help in the garden!
Sid G. also deserves our extra thanks for offering to repair the Little Free Library (adjacent to the garden) roof. Said roof has warped and sprung a leak so that the books left inside are getting soaked by the rain.
Safe and happy gardening everyone!