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. Robert Cordy, Organic Horticulturalist, 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.

Also in 2018, a “donation garden” was begun at the extreme southern border of the church property, planted with perennials from the bounty of parishioners’ gardens.

The redevelopment of the south garden began in the spring of 2019 and will be completed in the spring of 2020. It, like the north garden, will be a micro-forest of fruit trees designed to feed both the human and the wildlife communities. Beds of indigenous, herbaceous perennials and flowers will add beauty and serenity to the view from the great window of the church. Its off-set swale layout will encourage retention of moisture and efficient drainage from the site and its mulched pathways will entice meanderings.

In the spring of 2019, St. Gabriel’s also created a community garden that supplies the Good Shepherd Ministries with fresh produce.

Weekly Update

As we put the garden to bed, the idea of hibernation becomes irresistible. And so with this entry, we close the doors on The Garden Shed until spring. To all you who made donations, helped out in the garden and with our communications, gave us words of encouragement during your walks, delivered harvests to the Good Shepherd or simply enjoyed your garden, the Garden Ministry sends a heartfelt Thank You!

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 advise the office, and an invitation will be sent to you.

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

If you would like to participate in caring for our gardens, please contact the staff in the parish office.