Make walking delightful! That was the advice of the city planners who visited Abbotsford, BC in February as part of the Abbotsforward City Planning Strategy. Their argument was that walking benefitted both individual health and city wellbeing. (Studies show that walking is the single most health producing activity we can practise.)
I was thinking about delightful walks that same February, as I was peering down from my 6th floor balcony onto our Garden Park – an oasis of greenery amidst a streetscape of traffic, buildings and balconies. I wondered if I could see fifty shades of green? The leaves were not yet on the trees but I could see the grass and evergreens and park benches. I could just see the brown vines on our 2 bowers and the deep green of the rhododendrons and the bushy emerald hedges. It was a sunny day and I could see people walking, strolling and sitting in Garden Park. In an hour, I knew I would be one of them, enjoying the delights of the Park as I started my daily stroll around our neighbourhood.
Why is it so important to imagine we have fifty shades of green in Garden Park? Perhaps it is because green is the colour of life? Perhaps it is because green is a reminder of hope? Perhaps it is simply because it reminds us of the seasons and cycles of Life?
Maybe for our Garden Park, something more valuable is at play? Our Garden Park is a reminder of the power of Nature in our lives. The fifty shades of green, emerge from every view, every corner, and every nook in the garden. Fifty shades of green can remind us of the Garden’s history, first planted by the developers of Garden Park Tower (and then strengthened with the placement of the Monument there) and the community builders of Clearbrook Golden Age Society. Some shades reflect the memories of ancestors whose roses and trees (dedicated in their names) remind us of the families who have contributed to the upkeep and investment in the garden. Other shades reminds us of the City public workers who have taken over the maintenance of the garden. More shades remind us of the volunteers who plant the annuals and do the heavy lifting and bending of weeding, pruning and cleaning.
Garden Park has the key qualities that make for a delightful walk in the city, because it bursts with Life. Garden Park was made with an intention to bring delight from its first design and is cared for and made special by the ongoing investment of people’s time, effort and resources to ensure that delight continues from month to month and year to year. As a result, our Park provides delights to all of our senses as it nourishes the body, mind, heart and soul of everyone who passes through our garden – whether steadied by a walker, or ably rushing home, or sunning on a park bench, or just imagining a stroll from balcony or car.
When I view the Park now in its season of spring delights – not only am I enchanted by fifty shades of green – but also by shades of yellow, red, pink, purple, white and blue. Who can resist the cheerfulness of bright daffodils or the pastel nods of first tulips? Who remembers a wisteria bower that is more lushly in full lavender bloom than in Garden Park this April? How do we deserve the precociousness of roses that blossom in May (when other gardens in Canada are still blanketed in snow)? Flashes of geraniums, spikes of hostas and fresh sprigs of chrysanthemums suggest more promises in summer and fall will delight us ahead.
Garden Park reflects all the seasons of Life and offers a place to connect with Nature and others throughout the year. Our Park not only makes walking delightful for our own residents, but also for all our visitors, neighbours and commercial tenants.
To imagine Garden Park Tower without its namesake Garden, is to imagine a place that would care differently for itself, for others and for the city. Garden Park Tower without our Garden would be, a place that offers no path between noisy street and building doors, no reason to pause and soak in Nature’s wonders, no reminder of Life’s seasons of renewal.
As a centre of community, and a community centre, the Garden at Garden Park Tower makes walking delightful (and much of the other activities we enjoy as well). The impact of the Park as a delightful living centre adds priceless value to our community. It reminds us that through our Place Making and Place Caring we have created a delightful Place for delightful walks that delight all.
We come from the earth…
We return to the earth …
And in between, we garden.