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Carol McLeod

Abbotsford Gardens are by and for the Community

For most people, an empty flowerbed is just a pile of dirt, but for long-time gardener, Carol MacLeod, that dirt is actually more like a palette waiting to be filled with colour and fragrance.

The well-manicured gardens that surround Abbotsford House (where the Glebe Centre Community Programs and Services are run from) are thanks in great part to MacLeod, an Abbotsford member and the resident volunteer gardener.

From the time the snow melts, MacLeod loves to get her hands dirty.

“I start annuals by seed,” said MacLeod. “And I have to have colour in the garden really soon in the season, so I plant pots of daffodils.”

She said the “bones” of the Abbotsford gardens came from the old Sylvia Holden Park that formerly started at Bank Street and ran along Holmwood Avenue.

When those flowerbeds were uprooted to make way for the new, residential development at Lansdowne Park, MacLeod transplanted the perennials across the street at Abbotsford.

Today, among the plants surrounding the heritage, stone house, are what MacLeod refers to as “old fashioned” plants: hollyhocks, baptisia, Culver’s root, asters and even some of Lady Borden’s peonies, propagated from the cottage of former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden.

On Abbotsford’s Monk St. side, MacLeod has planted a “pollinator garden” that’s intended to attract bees and other pollinators.

“There’s so much talk about the dearth of bees, so I thought it would be a good idea,” said MacLeod.

Every year, she gets a bit of money from Abbotsford’s “coffee fund” to buy a few new plants. She also picks up beer cans lying around the neighbourhood and adds the money from the empties to her flower budget.

The gardens around the old stone house take about four hours a week to maintain, leaving MacLeod some time to join the exercise classes and play bridge at Abbotsford. She also helps with the beautiful, lush gardens that are also volunteer-maintained beside Lansdowne’s Horticulture Building.

But MacLeod doesn’t do it all alone, she has a few helpers who keep an eye on the Abbotsford gardens when she’s not around and she said a lot of people stop and chat and visit while she’s working away in the dirt.

“People really appreciate the gardens and say how beautiful they are,” said MacLeod. “And I really appreciate the feedback.”

Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+.  We are the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon- Fri 9-4 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

By: Julie Ireton