Merrie-Ellen Wilcox’s garden is not only lush and colourful, but everything in it has a function.
“It’s all been created to feed my family, or the birds and the insects, or to sustain the Garry Oak ecosystem,” she says, surveying her sun-drenched front yard which features drought tolerant Mediterranean style plants. Down both sides of her house are hedgerows of native plants; throughout the back yard, shade tolerant native species are separated by driftwood-lined gravel pathways. Interspersed throughout are vegetables, berry bushes, and herbs.
When Merrie-Ellen’s husband suggested they add honeybees, it only seemed natural to locate two beehives in the centre of the miniature Garry Oak ecosystem in her back yard.
This wonderful natural garden is only one of the gardens featured on this year’s Victoria Hospice Teeny Tiny Garden Tour, set for Sunday, June 9th. In addition to being a Victoria Hospice Society Board Member, Merrie-Ellen has studied restoration of natural systems, and appreciates the relationship between her bees, which depend on the plants in her garden, and the ecosystem, which is entirely dependent on the work of the bees.
“I see a lot of similarities between my bees and the care provided by Hospice. They both perform a vital service for our community, and in turn depend on the support of the community,” says Merrie-Ellen. While the garden tour is a fund-raiser for Victoria Hospice, it’s also a gift back to Victorians who will have the opportunity to visit some of the city’s most unique small gardens.
“The idea of celebrating gardens in small spaces originated with Carolyn Thomas, a former Hospice employee,” says Kelly Redlin, a Hospice nurse and a member of the organizing committee. “She wanted to establish a distinctive garden tour for Hospice that was different from other established tours. Thus, the Teeny Tiny Garden Tour was born.”
Kelly looks for eye appeal and diversity when she scouts out gardens for each year’s tour. This year’s attendees will walk through a rose lovers garden, a garden that successfully works around rock, a water feature garden, and of course, Merrie-Ellen’s garden with her resident bees, which she assures everyone are gentle.
The Hospice rooftop garden, a much-loved feature of Victoria Hospice, was part of the tour one year, according to Kelly. “Gardens bring peace and comfort, and the rooftop garden is about having something visual and not clinical as patients and their families take a breather from Hospice. Gardens are life affirming.”
Be sure to pick up your ticket from Thrifty’s or Dig This or the Victoria Hospice Thrift Boutique. You will come away with ideas for your own garden and the satisfaction of supporting a vital link in our community. As a bonus, Kelly says, “There will be master gardeners at two of the gardens and they will be there for the day.” She encourages everyone to “Come with a leaf in your pocket or a photo or a question.”