Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Garden of Spiritual Healing

I sometimes struggle with the concept of fairness. 

I desperately want life to be fair; that being a good person and working hard means that you will prosper and be happy. But the reality is that life isn't fair. Goodness is its own reward and bad things often happen to good people.  

When life deals a person a serious blow what, if any, role can a garden play in the process of healing? 

This "healing" might be a simple matter of getting through tough times without lingering sorrow or bitterness, finding and giving forgiveness, or discovering the inner strength and courage to do battle with a serious disease like cancer.

Today I want to share with you a unique garden in Ancaster, Ontario. In partnership with the Bob Kemp Hospice for Palliative Care, the Wesley Urban Ministries and the Aboriginal Health Centre, the Bethesda United Church has a very special "Healing Garden".

Open to "all people of any faith or no faith"* this garden is a unique outdoor space that is intended to promote wellness in the mind, the body and the spirit.

The garden is comprised of three spaces that are "meant to be a place of reflection, healing and 

Author's note: all the quotes in this post come from the Bethesda United Church website.

The Wooded Nook is a "place to reflect, to dwell prayerfully and to hopefully reset our problems into  perspective".

The tree in the picture above feels almost like a big old hug doesn't it?

The Healing Garden addresses the healing properties of plants in relationship to the body. 

It is intended to be "a place to encounter creation in nature's most beautiful forms".

Finally, a walk into the centre of grass Labyrinth is intended to be a symbolic seeking spiritual direction. 

The Labyrinth is meant to be a "place for meditating, healing and praying".

Throughout this garden, there are subtle reminders that some good can often 
come from tragedy and death.

There are also many gentle reminders that in its finest moments, life can be truly beautiful.

More Information & Links:

Bethesda United Church recently celebrated its 187th birthday. It is located at:

584 Garner Rd West
Ancaster, Ontario
Phone: (905) 902-0337
website: Bethesda United Church  

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Favourite Day of the Week

Do you have a favourite day of the week? For me it's Saturday. 

Weekends always feel like bit like a mini-vacation that begins with a leisurely breakfast, hot coffee and the weekend paper. Even if the day involves the odd chore and errands like shopping, Saturday is always a nice break from the weekday routines.

In the summer, Saturday is Market Day. The Brampton Farmer's Market is more popular than ever. 

The whole family comes out to shop for fresh, local fruit, vegetables and flowers. 

There are always babies in strollers, kids with balloons and dogs on a leash. 
Music and delicious smells in the air.

Last Saturday there was sweet corn by the bagful. 

Later that evening had corn-on-the-cob for our dinner. Slathered in butter and sprinkled with fresh pepper, it was the perfect summer indulgence.

We're at the end of this year's cherries, but that only means that 
there will be peaches for sure this coming Saturday.

Beans and peas are my favourite mid-summer vegetables. 

Not all the peas make it home. They're so good we eat them like candy.

One of these days I must try making my own pickles!

As well as food there is always some form of entertainment at the Market. This fellow in a Mod 70's costume was selling tea. 

Not sure what the connection is between that era and tea, but he sure seemed to be having fun.

These musicians were playing a couple of instruments at one time.

Best moment of the morning: this little guy dancing and playing along on a tambourine. We adults so rarely relax and enjoy music so freely.

Seems even dogs like the Blues.

Free samples? Yes, please!

So many flowers! Which to choose?

I decided to buy one of the Mason jars filled with flowers.

It doesn't take long before your get loaded down with grocery bags. 
Smart shoppers bring some sort of shopping buggy.

Even the weather cooperated and the rain held off until everyone was packing up.

May your weekend be filled with sunshine and good food!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Joe's Garden: Part 2, Mid-June and Mid-July

The rose garden in June

If you go along to visit Joe's garden this coming Sunday, and you happen to mention that you read all about the Open Garden and Plant Sale in support of the Canadian Cancer Society on a blog, don't be surprised if he doesn't know quite how to respond. 

Computers and the internet may have revolutionized the way we do things, but in Joe's quiet life centred around home, garden and family, the World Wide Web has had little or no impact.

Don't be put off if Joe seems a bit quiet and reserved. He's just a little shy. Let him see that you share his passion for plants, and the next thing you know, he will be giving you a full guided tour.

On our most recent visit, we actually got to see the inner sanctum (A.K.A. the garage) where thousands of plant tags are neatly organized and held in stacks with tight rubber bands.

Rosa 'Red Fairy': Polyantha rose. Red flowers with a very light fragrance. Height: 45-75 cm Spread: up to 105 cm. This rose has a short, bushy, compact and spreading habit making it a good groundcover rose. I also have this rose in my own garden and can say from personal experience that it is a pretty tough little rose.

These are Joe's roses in the month of June. ( If you missed the previous post, here is a link: Joe's Garden Part 1).

'John Davis' Explorer Rose: Height: 2.0- 2.5 m, Spread 1.2 m -1.5 m. This rose has a trailing growth habit and has been used here as a climber here. Blooms are held in clusters and have a light, spicy fragrance. Resistant to black spot and powdery mildew. It will even survive in USDA Zone 3.

 I told Joe that everyone would want to know what he does to get his roses looking this beautiful. 

"Oh, I don't do anything special... For years I always talked to my plants each morning before I would go to work."

"Really? That's it? You talk to your plants," I replied more than a little crestfallen. I was hoping for some big, important tip on growing roses. 

 Joe is however, not one who likes to disappoint. He paused and then added hopefully, "Well, I do put a little manure into the hole when I plant them... and I also add a little mushroom compost around the base of my roses each spring."

Now, when I sat down to write this post and began to think over his answer to my question, I realized that the truly noteworthy response didn't come from me pressing him for rose growing tips. The core of his success with roses, and in plants in general, comes not from any liberal application of compost, leaf mold or fertilizer, they help for sure, but what it really comes from is the love and attention he lavishes on his garden. 

Yes, Joe is a man who talks to his plants!

'John Davis' Explorer Rose in June

'John Davis' Explorer Rose in June


Similar view, but in July.

Sorry again, we couldn't find an identification for this rose. 
It looks like a David Austin rose of some kind...

Welcome to July in Joe's garden! 
Most of the roses are now resting, but there are still lots of plants in flower...

Echinacea 'Hot Papaya': is a vivid orange and has a pompom head with drooping circle of petals. Full sun. Height: 60-90 cm, Spread: 60-90 cm. This plants likes to be well watered to get established and then is quite drought tolerant. Average garden soil. USDA Zones 4-9

Hosta 'Sunshine Glory' left and an unidentified hosta on the right.

You'll note from the pictures that Joe uses a lot of hostas at the front of his borders. It seems to keep them looking neat and tidy all summer long.


Echinacea 'Southern Belle': has magenta pompom flowers. Full sun. Height: 50- 90 cm, Spread: 50- 75 cm. Does equally well in moist or dry soil. Normal, sandy or clay soils are fine. Attractive to butterflies. USDA Zones 4-9

Sometime ago, I swore off some of these new and often weird looking varieties of Echinacea, but I have to say that this variety looked positively stunning when we were there.

Joe has many, many varieties of Phlox. This one wasn't labeled when we dropped in, but hopefully it will be labeled for next Sunday's open house.

Phlox paniculata 'Peppermint Twist': Height: 35-45 cm Spread: 30-40 cm. Full sun. Does equally well in moist or dry soil. Normal, sandy or clay soils are fine. Attractive to butterflies. USDA Zones 4-9

Possibly Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise'?

These flowers heads were HUGE and a bit bluer than my picture shows them to be. If they are identified at the open house this coming Sunday, I will come back and update the post. 

Echinacea 'Sunset': has large, lightly fragrant flowers. Full sun. Height: 50- 75 cm, Spread: 45-50 cm. Does equally well in moist or dry soil. Normal, sandy or clay soils are fine. Remove faded flowers to encourage the plant to continue to bloom all summer. USDA Zones 4-9


As you can see, the pathways become quite crowded in July.

An annual Poppy.

Annual poppy close-up.

In the front garden, Joe pointed out a robin's nest that hidden in a shrub not much taller than I am.  The low nest made taking pictures of these babies a snap.

This is an odd color combination (cool mauve, warm peach, pink and shocking lime green) that I would never have guessed would work, but it is does in a weird and interesting way.

The light mauve flower sneaking into my shot from the right are annual Larkspur, the peach foliage is some unknown Heuchera, the pale pink rose is the 'Fairy' and the light mauve flower is annual Candytuft that has self-seeded itself into every nook and cranny.

Annual Candytuft, Iberis Umbellata: Height 30-40 cm. Full sun. Flowers range from white to pink and mauve. Annual Candytuft flowers within a couple of months from seed.  It is taller and less compact than its perennial cousin.

Now, Joe has probably never seen the two blog posts I have done on his garden. 

Nor has he read all the nice things you have had to say in the comments. 

So I have decided to print out all the comments and take them over for him to read. I think he will be deeply touched to hear just how much you appreciate his labor of love.

More information and links:

Details for Joe's Open Garden and Plant Sale in support for the Canadian Cancer Society

Date: Sunday, July 27th 2014
Place: 65 Austin Drive, Brampton Ontario 
Time: 9 am -5 pm
Hosts: Joe and Cathy Covello

Directions: Exit the 401 at Hurontario Street and travel north to Steeles Ave. Turn right (East) onto Steeles Ave and watch for Hartford Trail on your right. Turn right onto Hartford Trail and then take the first right onto Appleton Trail. At the end of Appleton Trail turn right onto Austin Drive. Drive to the end on to of Austin Drive. Joe's house will be the one with balloons and plants for sale on your right!)