Garden Ministry

We work to foster, develop, and preserve the beauty and vitality of the unique garden spaces at St. Gabriel’s as an inspiration for the congregation and a habitat for the creatures that make their home there. By virtue of the great window in the church, the garden becomes an extension of our worship space, reminding us of God’s gift of the natural world. St. Gabriel’s church architecture and the garden are symbols of our community’s care for the Earth and invite parishioners to live a relationship with other Earth communities in which we all can thrive.

Garden Revitalization Project

In 2017, a 3-year project was begun to renew the north garden and the garden immediately south of the great window in the church. In 2017 the south garden was planted with cover crops of rye, radish and clover to nourish and break up the soil. The cover crops continued replenishing the soil in 2018.

Also, in 2018, the north garden was installed as an interactive urban orchard. The three beds were prepared using a technique called Hugelkultur, which encourages moisture retention and the natural fertilization that comes from organic decomposition. The smallest bed, planted with lavender and, coming in 2019, currants, is a sensory garden. The mid-sized bed is a blueberry patch with six varieties of blueberries that fruit sequentially throughout the summer months. The largest bed contains a variety of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs with an understory of flowering plants. Log signs identify the plantings.

We have also begun a “donation garden” at the extreme south border of the church property, which is planted with perennials from the bounty of parishioners’ gardens. We will begin to see its seasonal blooming in 2019.

The redevelopment of the south garden is in progress. Robert Cordy, Organic Horticulturalist, who has worked with St. Gabriel’s for the last two years, is now on site taking measurements and plotting the layout of what will be a micro-forest with herbaceous perennials and flowers. Its off-set swale layout will encourage retention of moisture and efficient drainage from the site and its mulched pathways will entice meanderings.

This spring, St. Gabriel’s established a community garden on the small patio, south of the window in the Gathering Space. The harvest from the garden will support the Good Shepherd Ministries, who have requested that our garden initially provide them with salad vegetables.

Garden Care Days

Friday: 3:00 to 5:00
Saturday: 9:00 to 11:00

A member of the Garden Ministry team will be on site. Your help would be welcome!


Seed-Saving Workshop: Sunday, September 29, from 1:30 to 3:00, Gabriel Room. Cameron Couchman, a familiar face from previous workshops and on site in the gardens, will lead the workshop. Topics covered will be identifying plants that have set seed and are ready for harvest, collecting and storing seeds as well as cold stratification and mimicking natural processes to promote germination.

Meetings, Events and Announcements

Sunday, September, 15: Blueberry Pie Raffle. The Garden Ministry will be raffling a pie made with St. Gabriel’s own blueberries. Proceeds will go towards the purchase of tools and supplies for the Good Shepherd community garden. Tickets will be on sale after all masses on Sep. 14, 15.

Sunday, September 22, from 11:30 to 12:30, Gabriel Room: Guided Tour of the Stations of Our Cosmic Earth. In solidarity with the Season of Creation and Global Climate Strike Week, Sep. 20-27, Fr. Steve Dunn, of our local Passionist Community, will offer a virtual tour of the Stations which are located in the south garden. The Cosmic Stations situate the Cross amid the major transformation moments in the evolution of Earth. The stained glass originals of the Stations will be on display.

Call for volunteers: Any of you who have gardens know that they need love and attention and our gardens at St. Gabriel’s are no different. They needs us to love them and take care of them. The garden ministry needs volunteers who actively want to get involved in maintaining and shaping our gardens. If you are not able to weed, harvest and plant, consider giving the garden a little love. Spend a few moments savouring the haskap berries in the north garden (you’ll find them hiding under the leaves). Or, sniff some lavender and notice the profusion of blueberries now ripening. Or watch the butterflies and the birds flit from blossom to blossom.

Come and enjoy the garden! Bright sun or warm rain, cardinals singing, a bunny disappearing in the undergrowth, last year’s planting of black currants bursting into leaf! Join us!