April 2017 – Valerie Gourlay

Creating a Shady Glen for all to Enjoy

When Valerie Gourlay arrived at an Open House to explore volunteer opportunities with the Friends’ garden teams, she was surprised to learn about the Rock Garden.  “I didn’t know it even existed.”  An avid gardener who prefers to work out of the sun, Val says that the Rock Garden Team was her obvious choice. Over the last three years, this “shady glen” has become her “special place” where “trees and rocks and plants share space.” (See the spring newsletter for Val’s poem about the Rock Garden).

Born in England, Val moved to Peterborough, Ontario as a child, and, in 1965, after completing teachers college was offered a job in Ottawa. She taught for five years, took time off to care for her three children, and returned to work in special education. Val retired in 2007, but it wasn’t until the sudden and unexpected death of her husband that Val began looking at volunteer options and eventually headed to the Friends’ Open House.

She is a self-admitted gardener to the core. “I have to have a garden. I couldn’t live without one.” Val’s passion for and expertise with plants are evident in her own extensive gardens which draw praise from neighbours and passers-by alike.

Val also considers gardening a “great stress reducer” and finds working under the shady canopy of the Rock Garden to be “very calming.” The garden itself is a big draw for Val but so too are her team mates. “I was away for a few weeks after cataract surgery and when I returned I was greeted with open arms. I’m fortunate to work with such an amazing team.”

Mary Ann Smythe, April 2017.   Photo by Polly McColl.