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Laking Garden reduced hours Saturday June 15: Laking Garden will be closing at 2 p.m. for a special event. Hendrie Park / Rock Garden remain fully open until 8 p.m.

Healing Garden Project

March 1, 2021

Last spring, I don’t think any of us could have imagined how the year would unfold. It was full of unimaginable loneliness, heartwarming human kindness, and now, a glimmer of hope. 

This has been a year of growth, not only for the beautiful plants in our gardens and nature sanctuaries, but for awareness and understanding of how to be more compassionate humans. And if you’re like me, you’ve seen how crucial it is to have natural spaces where you can reconnect with your spirit and disconnect from your concerns and anxieties. 

That’s why I’m so thrilled about our planned restoration and renovation of the Medicinal Garden at Hendrie Park. The transformation of this garden into a Healing Garden envisions an inclusive sanctuary for the community. 

Healing Garden map highlighting the various plant systems arranged throughout the new garden The new water feature will be placed at the back of the garden near the adaptogenic plants.

When we reopened the Gardens in June, we were ironically unable to welcome guests back into the Medicinal Garden as its paths were too narrow to allow for physical distancing. As we looked at the problem, we felt the hedge border was obscuring the garden, encroaching on and shading the beds, and making it a less inviting space for people and plants alike. And we knew the garden had different stories to tell, stories that reflect the many changes in our society over the last 20 years. It was time to shake things up. 

The revitalized garden will have pathways designed for safe pedestrian flow. We have display beds planned for all the body systems, and signage explaining the medicinal and healing benefits of plants spanning traditional and modern medicine around the world. As you walk the garden, you’ll find the plants behind prescription medications, over-the-counter remedies, and herbal supplements that may be found in your medicine cupboard. 

Some beds will contain fragrant plants you are familiar with. Lavender will greet you with its telltale scent and purple flowers. Both the flower and the oil of lavender are used for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. In various herbal traditions around the world it is also used for depression, dementia, pain after surgery, and many other conditions. 

  • Close up shot of a bright blue cornflower in focus. Many more cornflowers are blurred in the background.
  • Sprig of Butterfly weed laying flat on a white background. Bunches of small orange flowers with four pea pod shaped green leaves.
  • Watercolour painting of a blue cornflower
  • Bundle of lavender laying flat on a white background

This jewel box of a garden would not be complete without water. A beautiful Flowform water feature designed to sooth and delight your senses with water movement that mimics the human heartbeat. Just imagine yourself sitting near this idyllic, softly flowing rhythmic stream while it oxygenates the air. Instant peace!

FlowForm water feature diagram
FlowForm Water Feature

We were inspired to transform the medicinal garden into a new Healing Garden to provide our community with a safe, accessible, and healing place to reflect and explore in turbulent times. But it’s not just about a beautiful setting and pretty flowers. The Healing Garden helps people understand the power of plants and their connection to modern and traditional medicines from around the world, including those recently used in developing treatments for the COVID-19 virus. Did you know that a small weedy species of tobacco native to Australia has been crucial for the rapid production of some of the coronavirus vaccines we’re relying on? 

Here at Royal Botanical Gardens, we want people to understand that our lives and our planet depend entirely on plants…you might say, “no plants, no planet (or people!). That’s never been truer than it is today.  

Your gift will help deliver a critical education garden that teaches about plant connection to humans, including their amazing power to heal us.   

The times ahead might still seem overwhelming. We still have a long road ahead of us before we can say “it’s over.” But I know that in coming together as a community, we can create a beautiful space that shares wonderful stories of plants and the many ways that they can support health for all. 

Thank you so much 

Barbara McKean
Head of Education, Royal Botanical Gardens 

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