Garden Photo of the Day

A Healing Garden on Vancouver Island

A community-created space of beauty

Today Pam Fraser is taking us on a tour of a beautiful garden where she volunteers.

I live in Ladysmith on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island, Zone 8, on the west coast of Canada. Today I would like to share some photos of a garden where I volunteer. The Doris Gallagher Memorial Gardens are located behind our community health centre and next to an extended care facility. In normal times, residents from the facility often visit and enjoy the gardens; hopefully (I write this in early June 2020) they will be able to do so again soon. We have noticed more visitors from the general public during the pandemic. As we gardeners know, visiting a garden is a wonderful antidote to all kinds of troubles.

The gardens are maintained by volunteers from the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary, founded in 1909 as a support for the then-new hospital. Today our main activity is running a successful thrift store, which we are in the process of reopening. We donate the profits to local and regional organizations that support all types of community wellness, including our food bank, various support programs, search and rescue, hospice, and health care equipment. A bit of the money raised goes to buy supplies for the Memorial Gardens.

In the Memorial Gardens, we strive for year-round interest, but spring is the season of the real floral fireworks. The garden is nearly 40 years old, so many of the plantings are mature. The pictures are from this spring and others, and they take you through some of the highlights of the season.

flowering magnoliaThe first of the flowering trees, the magnolias, are brief but spectacular.

Prunus ‘Kanzan’Next are the cherry trees, which line many streets in our region. This is a later double cherry with the pompom blossoms (probably the variety Prunus ‘Kanzan’, Zones 5–9).

Cornus floridaIn April the tulips and the pink flowering dogwood (Cornus florida, Zones 5–9) in the background put on their show. Unfortunately, this picture is not from this year. The bunnies ate virtually all the tulips this spring. I have lots of empathy now for Farmer McGregor and much less for Peter Rabbit.

rhododendronsIn May the over-the-top rhododendrons shine.

We have a number of varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas to keep the show going.

Our mature rhododendrons create tunnels of bloom.

raised planterLater in May we plant out some annuals, including this “Welcome to the garden” raised planter.

tree stump planterAnother “planter” that has done well is this Douglas fir tree stump with some edging bricks on top. At first we tried annuals here with mixed success. Then I planted an orphan spiraea from my garden a couple of years ago. It seems to love the location. That’s a California lilac (Ceanothus) in the background.

‘Queen Elizabeth’ roseIn June the rose garden takes over. This is a ‘Queen Elizabeth’ rose, one of the stars.

Ladysmith HarborFrom the garden is a view of Ladysmith Harbor. On a clear day, we can see the top of Mt. Baker in Washington State. The white flowering trees in the foreground are dogwoods. Both native and cultivated dogwoods put on another spring show all over town.


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View Comments


  1. mgol1068 06/17/2020

    Lovely and relaxing, surely bringing healing and comfort to many.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/17/2020

    Such a beautiful garden with a beautiful reason for being brought into existence. Has to be gratifying to you to see your spirea doing so well and looking so spritely.

  3. sagebird52 06/17/2020

    Well cared for and an inspiration, thanks.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/17/2020

    This is all so lovely, Pam.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/17/2020

    If you type Pam's name in to the search bar, you can find her own garden featured for GPOD.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 06/17/2020

      Oh thanks "treasures mom" for that info I looked again and enjoyed again!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 06/17/2020

    I think the importance of gardens being helpful in connection to the healing process is so overlooked in general.
    All gardens in a way are "healing gardens", and every "care facility" or hospital should be required to have one.
    This 40 year old garden with it's volunteers is such a fine example of how the whole world should behave.
    Just love that sidewalk through the huge old Rhododendrons!

  7. btucker9675 06/17/2020

    Everything about this is wonderful...

  8. Sunshine111 06/17/2020

    Oh how lovely!

  9. darylsavage 06/17/2020

    As lovely as all the photos are, I think the best shot is the last one of the harbor. A view like that truly is inspiring and healing.

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