Grieving for my species and planet this week, I headed out for one of my “feel-better” activities…sprucing up PanFlora Gardens. You may have noticed the wooden garden boxes on the south side of Pandora Avenue boulevard, outside Our Place. PanFlora Gardens started as a neighbourhood project in 2015, and anyone can contribute.
I am one of several care-givers for this urban garden, even though I know next to nothing about those green things called plants. But I participate once in a while anyway, usually when my soul feels depleted with world news, which seems to occur more frequently lately.
Supporting PanFlora Gardens means more than just tending plants to me. It’s about building community, connecting with people I don’t often get a chance to meet. While engaged in simple tasks for 30 minutes or so, I get to talk with people, often the disadvantaged, those who consider the streets their homes. The experience is always novel, and often humbling.
Today, while I weeded the four beds, Michele stopped to thank me for the garden cleanup, and offered a big hug. I had never met her before, but gardens seem valid grounds for instant bonding. She sounded sincere when she said how much she loves the green of PanFlora Gardens, and visits daily.
Tracey, with her high pony-tail and full bangs, I know. This is her home base, shared with a small group of other street denizens. She keeps things clean, she told me. As a kid, Tracey helped her mother with the family plot, and knows even the Latin names. I grabbed hold of a green thing that looked like a weed to me and, just before I yanked it out of the ground, I turned to Tracey and asked, “Hey, Tracey, is this a weed or a plant?” She glanced and causally let me know it’s a loranmercysavus or something like that, and should be salvaged. Glad I asked.
While I watered the plants, a natty First Nations couple sat on the edge of one box, talking quietly and sharing a smooch. Gardens have always drawn lovers, and I stole glances, remembering.
My tasks complete, I smiled at the results: Four groomed garden boxes, now free of weeds and watered. Clean grounds around the boxes. And one refilled soul, my answer to the world news.
If anyone is grieving for the planet, or just needs some soul work, let’s chat. I have a suggestion.
Guest Author Bio
Jim LaMorte is Secretary-Treasurer of Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.
Jim brings an Urban Planning degree and 30 years of consulting in emergency management to the GVPN. While hiking from Mexico to Canada a few years ago, Jim came to see communities as the critical link to a positive future. He draws inspiration from the book Happy City, among others, and from the collaborative energy among Placemakers.
Jim enjoys living in and building the North Jubilee neighbourhood.