>> Jen Strohschein

At the corner of Queens Avenue and Chambers Street in Fernwood were, until recently, two uninteresting patches of weedy grass flanking each side of the north/south bike lane. As passionate gardeners, we felt it was an invitation to create a ‘place’ for humans and pollinators to congregate. We are calling it The Queens’ Chambers and hope that many pollinators will come and make it part of their home.

With the financial assistance of the City of Victoria’s My Great Neighbourhood Grant program, Fernwood NRG, the City’s Fernwood liaison Michael Hill, and Food Systems Coordinator Alex Harned, we are pursuing our vision to transform this derelict area into a haven for native plants and insects and a place of inspiration and beauty for the neighbourhood.

Using permaculture gardening methods, we invited the help of volunteers in the neighbourhood to build fertile garden beds using a combination of cardboard, leaves, coffee grounds, and city-provided leaf mulch. The idea is for this organic matter to gradually turn into rich, loamy, moisture-retentive soil into which we will plant mostly indigenous drought tolerant plants. These beds have now been built—the worms and microbes are already doing their good work of soil-building. In March and April, we will plant the wide variety of indigenous perennials we have gathered from different sources. For the next couple of years, these plants will need to be watered regularly until their roots are established. After that, they should be self-sufficient through our dry summers. Some light seasonal maintenance will need to be done throughout the coming years to keep everything from getting too wild!

For information on building soil with sheet mulching and planting for pollinators, check out the Compost Education Center at North Park and Chambers.

Please take a moment to stop and chat if you see us working on the garden. We look forward to a growing season of beauty, blossoms and bees, and building community bonds in this little corner of Fernwood.