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

With the temperature dropping and the leaves falling, it’s time to harvest the last crops, cover the boxes and mulch the beds before winter’s deep freeze. Nature is signalling that it is time to rest. We in the Garden Ministry want to thank you for the comments and encouragement that you have shared with us and for your prayers for the well-being of the garden. St. Gabriel’s Garden continues to be an adventure, one that we share with our garden relations: flowers, grasses and trees, birds, fur bearers, insects and crawlers. To them all, we express our deep gratitude. Let us pray that we all overwinter in good health and return eager to begin again in March.

P.S. The young fox that I mentioned two weeks ago, was brought to the Animal Rescue facility in Downsview (thanks to Hélène and John in the office and the City) and is recovering well from a parasitic infection.


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

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!

Reflective Garden Walk Guides

Companion for the Walk of the Stations of the Cosmic Earth

St. Gabriel’s Garden – Guided Sensory Reflective Walk


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, Bartlett Tree Experts for mulch, William Dam Seeds, Dundas, Ontario for seeds, the Home Depots at Yorkdale – 90 Billy Bishop Way, and at 2375 Steeles Ave. West, for construction supplies, and Fisher’s Field for seed garlic.


Join the Garen Ministry: even an hour a week makes a difference!

St. Gabriel’s Garden Growing News

Note: The newsletter is a PDF that will open in a new tab. It is 2.5MB and may take a few moments to download.

Growing News Volume 3 – Fall 2021

Growing News Volume 2 – Summer 2021

Growing News Volume 1 – March 2021