Welcoming Garden Continued from Home Page

The group also linked with a few businesses who volunteered their help. In particular, MacDonnell Excavating gave time and equipment to strip the salt-encrusted, compacted and depleted soil off the little island in front of the building entrance. Their machine drivers also laid on fresh top soil and created a berm along the centre.

While this work was going on, the gardeners debated about what plants to choose. The roads around the island, and the walkways through it are heavily laced with salt in the winter for safety reasons. Not ideal growing conditions. Health and safety also required low sightlines especially at either end of the island. A few trees would be allowed in the middle of the bed with certain restrictions: not too tall, not too wide.

The committee also considered who would be passing by most often: those being admitted or discharged from hospital, along with their family and friends. The committee decided to choose familiar, pleasing and relaxing plants that would bring a smile to those likely feeling anxious.

Vicky’s own predilection was for native plants, but this particular location didn’t lend itself to that kind of wild garden and so - with the above conditions in mind - the selection was done and planting began in July 2020 - on the hottest day of the summer’s worst heatwave!

Gardeners have to be as tough as the plants they nurture. But lots of people found that planting during the pandemic was therapeutic. The volunteer gardeners were pleased to hear positive and encouraging comments from hospital staff and patients.

Work proceeded, and the official opening took place in August 2021. Hurrah!

If you visit the Welcoming Garden now (October 2021), you will see some flowers still in bloom – including an exciting long-lasting type of ground cover rose that blooms beautifully and tolerates salt.

There are now 12 plants of this “Flower Carpet” rose clustered at either end of the island as well as perennial coneflowers, Russian sage, annual salvias of various types, three ornamental pear trees, and a lovely sea of ornamental grasses along with some low flowering shrubs, creeping juniper and other small evergreens.

You’ll also notice two large landscape boulders (donated and placed by Hutten & Co) and a signage plinth (donated by Owen Sound Ledgerock). You may spot an empty ‘space’ in the centre of the garden where something is obviously being planned. Stay tuned for an announcement on this.

Vicky and her team have now turned their attention to several large pollinator / meadow gardens consisting of intensely planted native plants for habitat. These gardens are being planted alongside a new Healing Pathway which is in the works now. The path will ultimately encircle the whole of the hospital grounds – a length of about 1.6km.

In the forecast is something the gardeners are calling “Pods”, which will go in here and there alongside the pathway. These Pods will have a few plants, a bench or two, and possibly some educational materials and / or artwork. But that is a story for another time.

Meantime, if you are reading this – have some spare time and love to garden (or want to learn)– please get in touch with Vicky through info@neighbourWoods North. There can never be too many volunteers to work under the knowledgeable and inspiring direction of people like Vicky, Lloyd and Gord. You will learn a lot and feel the magic when you contribute to the landscaping up at the Owen Sound Hospital.

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