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.

The Story of St. Gabriel’s Garden

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. Robert Cordy, Organic Horticulturist, was hired to design and install the new gardens. The south garden was immediately planted with cover crops of rye, radish and clover to nourish and break up the soil. These cover crops continued replenishing the soil in 2018.

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, 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.

The redevelopment of the south garden was largely completed in the spring of 2019 but the remaining development, slated for the spring of 2020 was interrupted by the pandemic. This garden, like the north garden, is a micro-forest of fruit trees designed to feed both the human and the wildlife communities and “meadow” beds of indigenous, herbaceous perennials and flowers that add beauty and serenity to the view from the great window of the church. Its off-set swale layout encourages retention of moisture and efficient drainage from the site and its mulched pathways entice meanderings.

The south garden also encompasses a community garden of raised beds that provides fresh produce for the Good Shepherd Ministries.

Parishioners themselves created two “donation” gardens at the north and south ends of the property and populated them with perennials from the bounty of their own gardens.

Development of the gardens will continue throughout 2021

Weekly Update

Greetings from the Garden Ministry! We hope you and your loved ones continue well as we plod through this pandemic. For us gardeners, a bright spot on the horizon is the start of the gardening season. Currently, we are pruning trees and shrubs, and preparing for the indoor planting of the community garden on March 20.

If you’ve been thinking you’d like to get back to gardening, or that you would like to give gardening a try, you would be welcomed with open arms! And if you are an experienced gardener, perhaps missing your own garden and would like to take on the leadership of St. Gabriel’s community garden, growing vegetables for the Good Shepherd Ministries and providing direction to our team, please get in touch.

Meetings

The Garden Ministry meets on the second Sunday of each month at 1:30, after the 12:30 mass. Due to the pandemic, our meetings are held via Zoom. If you would like to attend, please email sgpgardenministry@gmail.com.

Garden Video

You are invited to take a virtual tour of the garden by clicking on the heading “An Invitation from our Garden Ministry” on the right hand side of this page. Follow it up with an in-person stroll through the gardens!

Thanks

The Garden Ministry would like to acknowledge and thank several partners who are generously supporting our community garden for the Good Shepherd Ministries: Woodhill Garden Centre at 320 Steeles Ave. East, and Sheridan Nurseries, for gardening supplies and tools, Urban Harvest for organic seeds, and the Home Depots at Yorkdale – 90 Billy Bishop Way, and at 2375 Steele’s Ave. West, for construction supplies.

Contact

To volunteer or to obtain more information, please email sgpgardenministry@gmail.com.