The Lerner Garden on the Five Senses


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The Lerner Garden on the Five Senses

One of the most incredible Sensory Gardens in North America.  Used by myself as an inspiration for our own Island Sensory Gardens at the HCP



Contemplation on the Margaree River, NS


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Contemplation on the Margaree River, NS

On a trip last November, while visiting with a group of TH and HT like-minded individuals…. I took a moment to appreciate the sheer power of the river and the blessing that I still had both legs to stretch out in the water. Despite the fact that my leg is no longer strong enough to stand in the rushing water with my leg. Blessings can be found in even during loss

back in the gardens, a story of success and self discovery

I am a gardener, an artist, a mother, an entrepreneur, and most of all, I am a believer….

When I started this blog just over a year ago, I had high hopes I would be a huge contributor while I went through my recovery…..

However, life moves faster than we hope it will, and the “down time” I was experiencing was fairly short lived due to my Drive to get back on my feet and supersede the doctors’ expectations. Oh how I wish I could have some of that time back.


I have just been awarded the honor of caring for a lovely seaside estate garden. The estate is small.  So it’s within my boundaries of what I can and should be doing. (Yes. I just shoulded on myself!).  It has been one year now since the accident that almsot left me with out my dancing leg.  And though it took out my ability to do hard labour, it left me with an opportunity to go back to my roots and actually garden again.  Stephanie’s gardens are filled with specimen trees, perennials, small deciduous and evergreen shrubs and perennials, and more perennials. Did I say perennials, because there are a lot of perennials.  I am in complete HEAVEN in this glorious garden.

While I am working in the garden terraces, which literally step down to the ocean at the back of the house, I will be thinking about my Horticulture Therapy certification, and the Sensory Garden paper I aim to complete over the next two months.  Taking in and considering all of my 5 sensory elements, pondering the vast and wondrous landscapes around the property, while the birds sing and the deer stair over the fencing.

I am also leading an incredible team of volunteers in the Restoration of the “Grass Garden” at Glendale Gardens, the Gardens at the HCP.  A mentorship had opened up at the HCP set up by one of my fellow HT students, who had to leave the country after going through some of her own “changes” this year.  As soon as I knew I could spare the time to commit, I presented the demonstration gardens’ Head gardener with a proposal to take over where my colleague had left off. I am now an active “Volunteer Curator” of the grass gardens. And work, from time to time, on the children’s garden, and the Birds, Bees and Butterfly garden. Linda has also requested I participate and lead the design and installation of the future “Sensory” demonstration garden at Glendale. OF COURSE…. I grabbed it!  Can you believe it!  And the bonus?  Because I am doing it all under the Volunteer status, I have ample time.  With time, I believe this will lead to specializing in the study of Sensory gardens and a future in the design of Sensory gardens. And ALL hours go towards my HT internship requirements.

Only a few weeks ago, I was offered another golden opportunity in the Horticulture Therapy field. At the end of April, I was asked to prepare a pilot HT program proposal.  Sandringham Center, a ‘Revera’ Care facility in Victoria, contacted me  requesting a proposal to both restore their gardens and present a 6 week Therapeautic Horticulture program for their Residents. Needless to say I wrote an extensive report and won the position. I am enjoying this role and still beaming from ear to ear that I was able to land a contract in HT so soon. I am utilizing my education and training while promoting the field of HT and TH.

And best yet…… I am proving that my long awaited desire to practise Horticutlure as a therapy is NOT a pipe dream.

During recovery and over the last year, a few things in my life suffered and or disolved.  My career as I knew it changed, my marriage became a co parenting/friendship existing in two separate homes, and my Education endeavours were put on hold.  It gave me a good deal of time to think about the logistics of my life, my finances, and my future.  In the process, I have decided I will pursue a career in Project Management and seek to become certified by the PMI (Project Management Institute).  This career is one I am well suited for, and will help me balance my drive to manage and participate in large projects with out me having to take any of the risks of it being my own company.  I worry it will overshadow my HT plans, but I have come to appreciate being financial stable, and taking things slowly.

If I work at a career in PM, I am only adding value to my future in HT and TH, while creating a nest-egg to support my future HT and TH career.

So you see everything in due time.  A little bit of progress here and there on all of the goals I have set out to achieve.  If there’s one thing I have learned in all of this, it’s that I always land on my own two feet, even if one isn’t always as reliable as I’d like it to be.

Over the course of my blogging I’ll fill my readers in on the happenings over the last year.  Changes occur at a time when there is great need.  With and without your participation, something will occur that is out of your control and your life will CHANGE.

It’s at that time, friends… that you will be handed the great gift of Reinventing Self!

And no one said it would be easy, especially if you are debilitated in any way physically. But it will be rewarding in more ways than you ever thought possible.  Believe me, I’ve done it a few times.


more to come now hat I’ve finally got this first one out.

keep truckin’



“We must be wil…


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“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. -”
― Joseph Campbell

It’s been a tremendous ride thus far…. and incredible year of recovery and a beautiful discovery of who I am, what I’ve done and where I am going.  I am excited to announce I am returning, and though I regret leaving the blog world so abruptly… I can’t wait to share my stories of the journey I’ve had while away.

Herbal motivation and Botanical bait.

The Faithful House garden has been planted.  And let me tell you, it was a family and community affair.

Garden beds taking shape

Kevin and the boys preserve our wood with All Natural “Lifetime Preserve”

After my husband teased me to design a vegetable garden, I decided to take him on.  Once the draft was in his hands Kevin graciously cut out the sod which was located off to the side and built our raised beds.

We pulled in a colleague of ours to fill the raised beds with the turned over sod, covered with newspaper to serve as a sheet mulch while the sod broke down and a balanced soil blend I ordered from one of my favorite soil distributors.  The site’s native soil, being very close to the beach is great, on the sandy side but ripe and ready for a little plumping with some good chunky organics.

The vegetable garden area was designed to meet the needs or our family.  Each bed being no wider than 5 feet but did reach 12 feet in length. The paths were laid 4 feet apart for the possibility of a wheelchair or garden stool to be placed.  Paths are wide enough to run wheelbarrows through and each bed stands 18″ tall, with the possibility of being raised higher if the property were to ever host programs for elders or clients with physical challenges such as my own.  In the end our materials were chosen with the idea that the gardens may only be temporary, as we don’t know the future of this area due to an application we have going with the City of Victoria. (Long story, I’ll get in to some time if it’s relevant.)

A week later, we ran a simple pvc irrigation line to the beds with pop up routers on risers and away we went.  The simple system was hooked to our rear garden hose-bib with a battery operated timer, and an additional bib for hand watering! Making seed germination a little less tricky for someone who can’t manoever stairs well.

Our paths ended up lined with fabric and covered in chip.  Each path started and ended with two 1′ x 2′ concrete pavers to transition and provide an easy path for my wheelchair to enter and leave.

lawn patched by the kids, pavers down and thin layer of chip spread as a temporary fix

The chip was laid shallow enough so that the tires of the chair could grab ground no matter the choice in path material.  As it turns out, I’m baring weight on my leg now, so the chip feels great under my very plush Asics running shoes bought for me by my boys on Mother’s Day.

Seeds were bought from local nurseries and seed wholesalers, though not as many heirlooms as I had hoped. I thought it best to be less picky about getting everything perfect in a new eden.

Perching carefully over the Sweet 100s, as I coil the tomatoes around twine, May 18th

My current mobility or restricted energy might let me down from time to time, who knows what interruptions might distract me over the next 4 months.  If I was going to do this right, I’d best not set high expectations.  Better to enjoy the process and hope for the best. I’d already tasted disappointment.  Anyone having been through rehabilitation or having watched a loved one go through it, knows this feeling.

Watching my family and friends take on the installation from the porch or kitchen window was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But the simple fact that I had longed to create this garden for Oh so LONG, really tugged on my nerves.  That I could not participate in the full experience was very difficult and disheartening.  And I won’t lie, the general contractor in me was finding it hard to lose all control.

I remembered to practise tolerance and appreciation.  I swallowed my pride, accepted my need to be where I was when I had to be there, and crossed my fingers that I would soon be able to participate in the planting and “frosting” of the gardens.  And truly, that is my favourite part.

I’d be happy just to see the beds fill with green at this point.  It seems the idea of sitting out in the gardens and running my hands through the soil, or weeding the beds is enough for a smile to creep over my face.

Before we knew it, I had hired our friend Sean to come by and keep the momentum rolling.  Our 100 year old Blackberry brambles were trimmed and tied back against the fence, with great intention to at least postpone their inevitable chaos of tasty madness.  The beds to the south of our vegetable gardens were widened and shaped to make room for the start of a sensory garden.

Get ready get set, GERMINATE!

The boys and I soon had our seeds in the ground.  Peas, Beans, radishes, onion, mixed mesclun lettuces, cucumbers, pumpkin, and my very favourite, Kholrabi!

We cheated a bit this year for the sake of my limited energy; planting our lettuces with the use of seed tape which the boys thought was the smartest invention out there. We started deep magenta and purple zinnias on our front porch, laying out my heating pad under the flat to kick start them in the cool air.

The excersise was a test in my sons’ patience, but we all found it very rewarding and some needed quiet time spent together.  This time we used peat pucks for the ease, but next up the kids plan to make their own pots with newspaper and recycle our egg cartons.. they are really inspired.

happy little seedlings and fruit stocks harden off on the porch

Herbs, raspberries and tomatoes began filling our back porch, bought from local vendors such as Ravenhill Herb Farm (Saanich BC) and Hazelwood Herb Farms (Cedar BC).

The seedlings and starters lay outside our kitchen door, patiently hardening off before being placed in to their new homes this weekend.  

A visit to Hazelwood Herb Farm

 Today, my mom and I carefully maneuvered a local nursery to pick up the last of my vegetables and fruits… (for now at least.)  With the help of a charming young man, I hobbled down the gushing green aisles with a 2 gallon pot of Vaccinum sp.  Bringing home three species covered in flowers, promising to flood our kitchen with tangy ripe blueberries.. if they ever make it to the kitchen!  

From the Cardoons I grabbed for the giant planters out front our home, to the Hops bought to trail up our porch lattice, or the cabbage starters I hoped would reach maturity in the front gardens amongst the shrubs and perennials (how fun). I had myself a terrific and whimsy collection of botanicals.

Thank heavens my accident landed me in bed during the early Spring season rather than the late.  I’d have a much harder time accepting my fate without the sun’s rays or the miracle of germination, fruit and flower.

another great table top garden project

Stonecrop purchased for my table top garden program at Silver Threads Care facility, now lay in waiting alongside six packs packs of sedum and flats of native plants for upcoming terrarium projects.     

I’ve procured a good deal of prosperity in the gardens. I am glowing with excitement, rejuvenated by the bounty that lay before me, and gushing with the pride only a gardener or mother truly knows. And to top it off, I am outside, out there and using my leg.  Powered by my own drive, inspiring myself and my children. Beating the odds and smiling all the way. I am one month ahead of schedule in my recovery and I’m fast forwarding to a higher state of mind, counting every blessing this accident has brought to me.

There have been many great experiences over the last few weeks, and though I have been away from the computer, I have a great deal to share soon.

Some photos from the Lovely Raven Hill Farm

Teas, Tinctures and Seeds c/o Ravenhill herb farm

Looking for seeds, please check out Raven hill’s seed catalogue at Raven Hill Seeds

Garden Design for Health & Wellness

In the world of Garden design you will find styles and schematics with a purpose driving their construction.  When one focuses on the health and well-being of a gardens visitors, as the purpose. We know this to be one of the inspirations behind any garden design but the below design terms are used often in the field of Horticulture therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture.

Garden designed for the purpose of supporting the Health and Wellness of its population.  Whether you are a patient in day program, living in a short term recovery centre, or rehabilitating at home. Maybe you’re caring for a loved one.  Studies show that participating in activities and visiting a garden, plant or natural environment is therapeutic on many levels.

When researching gardens for health and wellness, you will undoubtedly find a great amount of resources.  Knowing which terms to look for can really narrow your search and help to refine your information, making the time devoted on the research phase more efficient.

Below you will find terms most commonly used in HT and TH Design;

Restorative Garden Design:

The term “Healing Garden” and “Restorative Garden” are often used interchangeably. These garden designs focus on fostering health and wellbeing in regards to: physical, emotional and spiritual health.  These gardens implement design principles such as reflection, sensory stimulation, light and dark spaces etc. On many occasions they incorporate a memorial space, resting place or spiritual representations.

I.E. Japanese gardens, residential gardens, local parks and recreation installations

Therapeutic Garden Design:

A “therapeutic Landscape” is more focused.  It is designed to have an effect on the perceived patient/s with measurable outcomes, (cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual),that are able to be observed and/or recorded.  Gardens that boast this title are often designed for a particular patient or “population” of patients, families and the healthcare staff that work on the properties where the gardens are found. These gardens incorporate areas for walking, minimize negative intrusions using light and sound, have a prevalence of green materials over hardscaping, clearly identifiable features etc.

I.E. Recovery and Rehabilitation centres, Long term care facilities, Hospitals and healthcare environments, municipal parks & community centres.

Commonly used in the field, is another Design term, “The Enabling Gardens”.  Described as a garden that is accesible and engaging to people of all ages and abilities.  We define enable;

en·a·ble: tr.v. en·a·bleden·a·blingen·a·bles

1. nounTo supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity; make able
2. verb. 1. To provide (someone) with adequate power, means, opportunity, or authority (to do something)
The term “Enable” has become a term used to imply a positive action with a negative impact.  Referring to the helping (enabling) of others, who then become dependant rather than self reliant.  Though its true, many populations treated in our field are in fact dependant and will always be so.  So you see, if the author is speaking about a specific population, the term “Enabling Gardes” may indeed be fitting.
It’s my opinion that the less we use the term, the less we will run into such confusions or opposition to the term. My mentor and my predecessors have recommended the replacement of the term with the term “Accessible Gardens”.
And you are bound to run across this term if you intend to research Horticulture Therapy.


Growing Vegetables to combat Depression


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Growing Vegetables to combat Depression

“establish an individual connection with the planet, its seasons and rhythms.”

Read more: 
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives


A crying shame & an admirable move


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David Suzuki resigns to save foundation from ‘bully’ charitable status threats

The latest news from Canada’s dear David Suzuki.  It’s a random post, and though it does not follow the theme of Biphilia’s current topic of choice, I feel obligated to share it with my readers.

Stay aware, stay alert, and choose to support your community.  For without David Suzuki and his foundation, we would not be able to step up to create change before it is too late.

The David Suzuki Foundation, “brings science and solutions to environment problems….”, “the Foundation…solve(s) critical environmental issues and bring(s) hope for the future.”

Please take a minute to read.