Carolyn Herriot

A Garden of Memories

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Carolyn Herriot is a food activist, author, passionate gardener and cook, who believes that healthy eating is the path to healthy aging. She encourages local food security through her books ‘The Zero-Mile Diet’ and has travelled extensively as a lecturer and workshop leader. After operating The Garden Path Centre in Victoria for 25 years she recently relocated to Yellow Point south of Nanaimo, where she has been trying her hand at farming in a rural community. She is currently enrolled as a student at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and still writes regularly for local publications under the heading From Farm to Table.

They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and it seems this can

apply to gardens too. As I take stock of all the plants from friends’

gardens, I realize that what I have is a garden full of memories. They

go back to my earliest days when I had a gardening business in

Victoria called Forget Me Not Gardening, and I was taking care of 30

gardens. That meant I got to know my plants pretty fast, and some

were more arresting than others.


Seniors home care, care facilities,RV parks B &B, Churches, Brew pubs, craft breweries, vineyards, distilleries, Pets BC. Seniors 101, Island Voices promoting the products and services available for seniors on Vancouver Island. Seniors 101 lifeline. Snowbirds. Employment. Politics. Vancouver Island Now. Island woman magazine. Around the Island, Newsletters.Margaret Gordon was a 95-year old spinster living in the same house

she had grown up in, in Oak Bay. One day I walked into her backyard

where the sight of Iris ochroleuca, a 5-foot tall, yellow and cream

spuria iris in full bloom stopped me in my tracks. Today I enjoy the

same elegant iris every spring, and I think back to Margaret and her

cat Monty (because of course I had to have a section!)


Michelle was a regular customer at my Garden Path Nursery in

Victoria and one day she invited me for tea in her cottage garden.

There I discovered she had an extensive peony collection and she

insisted I come back in fall and dig out some tubers from every one

of them for my garden. Michelle told me she had been diagnosed

with an incurable illness and had to move, and she wanted to leave

me a legacy of her peony collection. Every spring when my peonies

bloom I thank Michelle and her partner Allan for that moment of

generosity and think of them.


The True Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.) blooming outside the

living room window where we often sit reminds me of the day Joyce

came bounding down the driveway with a huge clump of it in her

arms. “Do you want some?” It’s now one of my favourites in the early

spring garden as it displays its fronds of drooping white bells under

the shade of the Douglas Fir tree.


I am relieved to see Jackie’s raspberries made it through this tough

winter. Jackie lives in downtown Victoria and borrows her

neighbours’ gardens to grow more food and have a small flock of

chickens. Her everbearing raspberries spread under her fence to the

garden next door, so now everyone has a share of the picking. There

are always plenty of canes to share too. I love the fact that you get

two crops a year from them, one in June/July and an even better one

in September/October. Plenty for fresh eating and freezing for winter



Once upon a time I was the Head Gardener at Point Ellice House in

Victoria, a restored two-acre Victorian garden on the Gorge. One day

while cutting back an overgrown area in the kitchen garden I

discovered a small current bush. I took cuttings from it and am now

in the possession of the extant heritage blackcurrant bush from this

historic site. Every year my blackcurrant produces three times more

currants than the modern varieties growing next to it, and I think of

the O’Reilly family who lived in this home from 1867 to 1975, where

they grew an extensive kitchen garden for all their fruits and



I moved these plants with me when I moved so that the memory of

my life before would be preserved. The years flash by, people come

and go, but the memories are stored and preserved forever.


Sometimes it’s hard to believe when you look back at the past that

you even did all these things. A garden is a wonderful way to remind

you of wonderful memories from the passage of time.


Farmers markets Blog, Restaurants, Crafts, Hobbies, Recipes, Pets, Shop on-line. Women's Fashions, Woman to Woman.  Island Woman magazine, inspiring the women of Vancouver Island, BC.Carolyn Herriot is author of The Zero Mile Diet and The Zero Mile Diet Cookbook Available at your local bookstore. She grows IncrEdibles! in Yellow Point.




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