We are very proud of our Gardens’ history. It literally was a grass-roots initiative. Here’s how ATGS and The Gardens on Anderton came to be.
- The Gardens began in 1996 when Bill and Joy Georgeson met Christine Pollard, Horticultural Therapist at Providence Farms in Duncan. Christine encouraged them to pursue their dream of a therapeutic garden in the Comox Valley.
- In 1997 Ellen Presley and Karl Opelka, owners of the Anderton Nursery, gave a 30 year lease for 2 acres of their land (for $1 a year) and the Society was registered as Anderton Therapeutic Gardens Society.
- First ground was broken in 1998 spring. These 2 acres had been used as a cow pasture. 10 people were involved at the beginning.
- Joy and Bill spearheaded the Society for a number of years, and drew in a group of others to help. They did the fund raising, the physical labor, the public relations, etc. There were approximately 40 member volunteers for most of that time. Some other original members who are still in the Gardens as “workers” are Norma Morton who developed the Butterfly Garden, Gerry Anthony who developed the Rose Garden, Joe Vandenberg who did a lot of the building including the Gardens Cottage. Helen and Ken Foster developed the Alzheimer Loop and Helen is still a member, though Ken has passed away. There were others of course but these are ones who still remain actively involved. Joy developed the Meditation Garden. Bill was the fundraiser, organizer, visionary, planner, of course with Joy’s input as well. We were so sad when Bill died in 2014. Joy continues to be actively involved in the Gardens.
A Few Facts About ATGS
- Gerry Anthony, at approx. age 77, dug the whole area of the Rose Garden, with one helper. They also put all the concrete edging around it, planted the roses, and for the first year carried buckets of water to water the roses.
- Joy tells the story of a group of people touring the Gardens two summers ago, and one of the children was noticed to not be in the group at the end of the Tour. Joy found her in the Meditation Garden and began to chat with her, eventually asking if there was any special reason she had gone to be alone in the Meditation Garden. The child responded that she had some exams coming up in school that week, so she had come there to “talk to God” and ask for help with her exams. We often wonder how she did in those exams.
- The pond and waterfall were created by Gord Weber who has a landscape business in the Valley, called Spirit Gardens. He is a landscaper and the pond/waterfall were his own vision for the Gardens and his volunteer efforts, assisted by several others, have created an amazing area. There had been a pond there before but it was badly in need of improving and upgrading.
- Norma Morton is an environmentalist and naturalist who has an amazing knowledge of insects, plants, butterflies and birds. The garden is planted specifically to attract and provide habitat for butterflies. Thus – the thistles, for example.
- Ken and Helen Foster created the Alzheimer Loop and did most of the original work on it. It is a safe place for Alzheimer people as it is enclosed and also planted with many older varieties of flowers that people will recognize from their past. Ken also designed and helped build the Programs Cottage.
- The Labyrinth was a dream of the founders for a long time, and it came about in 2009 with the efforts of Bev and Bob Worbets.
- The Green Thumb area was originally built and planted by Brian Buttnor and has been changed considerably to be an area used by more frail seniors. They meet twice weekly for social time and information about gardening, and then plant and maintain their small raised bed plot. They are the Green Thumb group.
- The allotment gardens were established early on but not very popular till about 2010. Now we have a waiting list for the approx. 37 beds available there.
- We have always encouraged groups from special needs to come and be in the Gardens, and 2 of the allotment plots are planted and maintained by them.
- We also actively encourage long term care facilities and ECU to bring their people out for lunches and garden tours.
- Many of the trees, shrubs and benches are donations in memory of loved ones.