From the Haven garden: until the heather blooms

By Don Mattson

Hi, Don the gardener here. Well, another season in the Haven garden has come to an end and I am home catching up on some projects that have been put off for too long. The long cold wet spring turned out to be a blessing for the garden, with perennials, shrubs, and trees flourishing with all the moisture. The guys in maintenance built a beautiful arbour in the garden directly in front of the lodge entrance, I pruned the wisteria hard and am now training it to grow on the arbour. This led to a new sunroof over the breezeway which made for a much lighter and welcoming entrance to the lodge. My thanks to Simon, who built and erected the arbour; he was so considerate of the plantings which he had to work around and within days it looked as though the arbour had always been part of the garden.

I have been using seaweed on the gardens and trees the past few years and the results really showed up this year, especially with some of the trees which have struggled in the poor soil. I have managed to get some fruit on the little old plum trees which never produced before. Also had a great crop of grapes on the arbour that Ron and Jeanette Adkins gave us. Unfortunately the racoons enjoyed most of them before they were sweet enough for us to eat. Joann Peterson’s little garden does well and continues to be a favourite spot for those looking for a little quiet time, and of course it is a favourite of mine where I can have a little private time with my old friend Joann.

The deer population on Gabriola continues to grow at an alarming rate, which makes it more and more difficult to garden without extensive fencing, which is not practical for the Haven property. I have learned to live with the deer and although they really limit what I am able to grow, the garden has its own special beauty. So the garden has been put to bed for another season and I will be back when the heather blooms; of course I am not far as I live on the island and do not totally abandon my babies at Haven over the winter.

Since I have been off work I have taken two wonderful workshops at The Haven. The first was a weekend program with Marlyn Farrell called “Befriending your Inner Critic “. I had a fabulous time and dug deep in the ways I stop myself from creating by listening to my inner critic. Maybe not all of you know, I paint as well as garden; I have painted for many years and have been quite successful, with sold-out shows. However the past few years I haven’t worked very much and would love to get back to it. I feel that through Marlyn’s heartfelt sharing I have a renewed sense of my own place in the world of creativity and am very much looking forward to getting my paints out and starting to play.

I also just finished a program called “Living with Passion”, with David Raithby and Sandey McCartney. WOW, how perfect was the fit and timing of the two programs for me. I felt the “Inner Critic” program was the starting point on the path which lead perfectly into the “Passion” program. If you haven’t taken “Living with Passion”, I highly recommend you do. So I feel like I have placed two more solid bricks in my path to self awareness.

This fall I also managed to squeeze in a program with Jane Geesman and Sarah Lucht called “Act Natural” – what a great time I had! Don, the shy, quiet gardener doing an acting program, getting real big energy on, and having a blast doing it; thank you to Jane and Sarah for seeing me and having the faith that I would see myself. With just the right encouragement, you both were wonderful and I will never forget the experience your program afforded me. Thank you.

So for the next couple of months I will either be snuggled in with my Mark Nepo books or painting furiously with total abandon in my studio …

Hope to see many of you at “Reflections” and if not I will be back in the garden when the heather blooms. Don.

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