The Green Sanctuary group of the Saskatoon Unitarians (Doug Daniels, Carroll Chubb, Larry Grenkow and Ewen Coxworth) have started thinking about how we (that’s all of us in the congregation) might  enhance the permaculture garden. Here are our initial thoughts for everyone’s consideration. Please  give us your own comments and suggestions.

The east side of the garden is shaded by big trees, so it’s hard to grow most garden vegetables there. We are thinking of planting shade tolerant flowers, particularly ones which flower in April, May and June when our regular services are being held. An example is the western Canada violet. This native flower has white flowers in spring. The western Canada violet, like most violets and pansies, has edible flowers which can be used to decorate salads and desserts. Other spring flower possibilities include hardy primulas such as auricula, oxlip, cowslip and cortusa types, bergenia (with evergreen leaves), pulmonaria and Solomon’s seal.

Summer flowering possibilities include goatsbeard, with big plumes of white flowers, martagon lilies, with flowers of different colors, depending on the variety. We might include some ferns, such as ostrich fern, which will tolerate dry shade.

For the garden as a whole, we are thinking of including more hardy and low maintenance ground covers such as thyme, false Solomon’s seal, Siberian barren strawberry, and ground cover type strawberries (small edible berries). Daylilies are another possibility, such as the variety Stella de Oro, with yellow flowers during much of the summer. Some of the other flower possibilities include native plants which were used by First Nations peoples in many ways. These include giant hyssop (blue edible flowers in summer and early fall, already in the garden and much loved by bees) and bee balm (also called monarda or wild bergamot). Both these mint family plants have been used as sources of flavorings for teas and for other food uses.

Our permaculture garden has sparked the interest of several other religious groups in the city. We think it is important that we enhance it in ways that make it easy to look after and enhance our own enjoyment of it in many different ways.

What would it look like? See the picture of monarda (bee balm) as a start!

Ewen Coxworth

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