After a bountiful season, we have put our Apothecary’s Garden to bed.

Closing the Apothecary's Garden for the season 2013

Closing the Apothecary’s Garden for the season 2013

Thanks to all those that came out on Saturday and made quick work of cleaning the garden and wrapping it up for the season. They qualified the old adage, “Many hands make light work”. Thanks to Jacqui, Michaela, Linda, Martyn, and Shelly for your enthusiasm and hard work .
This is an excellent time to give thanks to all the volunteers that came out from early spring until late fall and made our Apothecary’s garden, Teaching Gardens and Labyrinth a reality this year. While an overdue thank you also goes out to those who donated plants to our wish list this season. This includes among others, Anna Borstad, Joanna Bak, the lady who brought us Basil plants, and Noelle and Jason Allan who brought Sunflowers.
There were some great harvests this year, including our very successful spring plant “giveaway” and I hope next year, even more people will take advantage of the unique selection of medicinal, culinary and aromatic plants growing in our Apothecary’s garden.
As always, it goes without mention, that none of this would happen without Mary Louise Pigott’s behind the scenes work, getting the word out, keeping community involvement and engagement alive, shaping the public face of the garden and keeping check on my, political blunders and typos.

I had secretly hoped to do a little closing ceremony in the garden this year. A modest circle with a few words, a handful of volunteers, and hot tea. A little smudging with our own garden grown smudge mix of Tobacco, Sage and Cedar would bring things to their conclusion in an elegant way.  Our Apothecary’s Garden was designed on an esoteric template. Aligned with the compass, the central circle around which the beds and paths unfold, is intentionally divided into 4 quarters, and is planted according to planetary rulerships, elements and Astrological/Medicinal/Magical characteristics of the plants.                                                                                                                                     If any one would like to see or participate in a closing ceremony for our Apothecary’s Garden,  I would be happy to hear from you. I will put it out there as an ambition for next season’s closing, (Or opening?).

We have been talking about a welcoming sign for the Teaching Gardens and the Apothecary’s garden for 3 years now. Some designs and thoughts have been presented, and access to a CNC Milling machine has been graciously offered by Hamilton Scenic Speciality. With a little funding for materials, we hope this will be ready for spring 2014 , and the next reopening of the gardens.

We are still looking for volunteers that can help us set up the “official” website for the Teaching gardens and Apothecary’s Garden, people that can help collate information on all the herbs, so that information can be accessed via a garden sign barcode, online. The idea is fairly simple. Instead of having a sign by each garden specimen that details its name, uses, history, mythology contraindications etc., we would like each plant sign to have only the plant’s name and a bar code, a square “Q” code that is linked to a webpage, where in-depth information is available. Most people have smartphones that can scan a bar code and access the internet through it. It will be a great educational resource once established. Ideas? Thoughts? Resources? Volunteers???

   Our goal is to make this a true teaching garden, a place to share knowledge of identifying, growing, and using medicinal, culinary and aromatic plants with our children and the community at large. We hope to establish regular educational workshops, and interpretive walks through the garden and on the local RBG trails, to eventually see a spring to fall stream of children through the Apothecary’s Garden.  Though we have tried to coordinate group visits through the Board of Education and community groups this past year, it has been slow work and an ongoing challenge. ( Could this be part of “The Greening of George R. Allan school”)? If there is anyone who can help us with this, anyone that might have connections, insights, experience, time or talents to help make this vision a reality, they would be very welcome.

The “Plant Lovers Garden” has seen such heart wrenching deterioration through neglect these many past years that often people just avoid it.  Though we have managed to replace a section of decomposed fence this year, (thank you Paul), next season we will have our hands full renovating this garden in a way that does justice to its original elegance, the 2 water features, its array of  rare ornamentals, and the beautiful cedar and brick walls that define it. With a little financial support from the ward and an extensive amount of volunteer hours, it might be possible to reopen the Plant Lovers Garden with a modicum of community pride in 2015. It has become clear though, that without extensive involvement, support and volunteer work, this is not a realistic goal for us. We are looking at many hundreds of hours of work. At our core we are two people, and limited in what is realistically possible to accomplish on our own. So again, any thoughts, time, or support that can be offered, would be greatly appreciated.

There is great potential in Churchill Park Teaching Gardens. It’s up to us to make the most of them for ourselves, our kids and our community.

It requires man/woman power, time, talents, connections, experience and resources that we as yet do not have. So consider this a formal call for help directed towards our community.



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