There’s vibrant activity happening in the Long-term Care (LTC) Memory Garden at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. It’s a place where residents and sometimes their families come together to water plants, pull weeds, and make cherished memories.

As you step into the garden, you’ll be greeted by shady spots that invite conversations, while a gurgling water fountain, active birdhouses, and the fluttering presence of butterflies create a serene atmosphere surrounded by an abundance of stunning plants.

There’s the restored 1947 Chrysler, generously donated by the local car club, Torque Masters. The car brings back stories of favourite cars of the past as well as road trip memories. Residents eagerly take turns washing the car.

Sheila, LTC’s horticulture therapist, takes joy in listening to residents’ stories about their experiences in gardens. Some reminisce about childhood memories of family vegetable gardens, while others recall their own gardening adventures. Although there’s no formal garden club, residents often find themselves out in the garden together, working side by side and engaging in conversations. When asked how they feel in the garden, they often answer with feeling “young again,” “at home,” and “comforted.”

Thanks to the Central Saanich Lions Club, there is now a new greenhouse that has become a hub for sprouting peas and various vegetables. Recent visits between daughter, Kelly and her father, Mike, are spent time together in the greenhouse, germinating seeds, affectionately calling them “Mike’s experiments.” With the help of a capillary mat, plants in the greenhouse stay hydrated even when staff and residents aren’t available. Plumbing has been installed, and soon electricity in the greenhouse will provide light and warmth as the weather changes.

The raised garden beds have been designed for easy accessibility, allowing residents to work comfortably, whether standing or from a wheelchair. The joy is evident as plants bloom and vegetables ripen, and residents take immense pride in their contribution to the garden’s success. The fruits and vegetables harvested are shared with the LTC kitchen, and when pears and apples are ripe, a joyful fire brigade-like line forms as the fruit is passed from picker to basket collector. The bounty is then transformed into delicious fruit sauces.

In addition to these activities, rose petals and lavender are carefully harvested and dried to create small dream pillows for the residents, offering comfort and tranquility.

For one resident, Mark, who missed working with clay, horticulture therapist Sheila sourced an air-drying clay that has become a new outlet for creativity. Inspired by the garden, residents have been making nature imprints, and soon they will be adding their own vibrant colours through painting.

To further inspire the residents, they were invited to share their early memories of being in nature. These heartfelt stories were recorded onto paper feathers, which now grace the garden, adding a touch of personal connection and reflection to the garden’s ambiance.

This year, a local Girl Guides group crafted and generously donated beautifully painted stones with inspiring words. These stones have found their home throughout the gardens, bringing an extra touch of warmth and encouragement to all who stroll through.

The LTC Memory Garden is a testament to the power of nature and the community spirit that flourishes when people come together. It’s a place of joy, creativity, and connection. We are grateful for the generosity and support of our donors who have made this outdoor haven possible for our residents, providing them with a sense of home and a space to blossom.

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With gratitude we respectfully recognize and acknowledge that the Saanich Peninsula Hospital & Healthcare Foundation offices
are located on the traditional unceded territories of the WSÁNEĆ and Lekwungen peoples.

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