The Rooftop Garden at Victoria Hospice

"This Garden really brings out the poetry in a person's soul.

I will miss this good earth."

- Rooftop Garden visitor

 

The Rooftop Garden at Victoria Hospice is a place of memories recalled and memories created. 

Since its unveiling in 1997, the Garden has become an oasis for our patients, their families and friends.

It is a place of peace and reflection as well as a source of strength and inspiration. It is a place where you join flowers and hummingbirds high above the world below, where past, present and future are set in perspective against blue sky and snowy mountains.  

A garden means something different to everyone who walks in it, and for those who can read them, the flowers in the Rooftop Garden have special things to say, too. 

Centuries ago, flowers were given meanings to serve a variety of purposes.  In Ottoman Turkey, concubines who could not read or write used flowers to communicate with the outside world. In Chinese culture, different flowers were used to signify sentiments toward the receiver, especially on birthdays and family festivals. In the Victorian period, with its reticence around public sharing of personal emotion, flowers allowed people to send messages coded not just in single flowers but in carefully selected arrangements of several different kinds. 

If we were to “read” the flowers in the Rooftop Garden, what would they tell us? 

The pink and purple sweet peas might say “You have my thanks”, while the irises lifting their purple heads beside the fountain would offer only good news to all who admire them.  The lavender growing in beds and pots would speak to us of “devotion”; wisteria convey “longevity” and the snapdragons “graciousness”, and the various colours of roses would speak a vocabulary of  “joy”, “grace”, “friendship”.

Just inside the door that leads to the Garden is a Garden Journal in which visitors are encouraged to record their thoughts, feelings, and experience of their visit. 

Some people sit and meditate, some ring the Garden Bell in memory of a loved one. Others focus on a flower, or gaze off at the Olympic Range. Thoughts gathered in the Garden are shared on the Journal’s pages. Like flowers, within each of these entries is encoded a volume of meaning: life lived, love given and received, hellos and goodbyes, and remembering.   

 

Chosen at random, these written thoughts will draw you into the lives of those facing loss but finding strength in love, in memory and in flowers.

For my beautiful daughter – five long years have passed since we have seen your beautiful smile and each day we miss you more.  Thank you for the wonderful gift you left behind – your two boys!

Love you forever – Mom & Dad

Such a peaceful place to reflect.  Thank you for providing this little piece of “heaven”.

The garden is vibrant yet gentle – like the rest of the Hospice.  Thank you so much for caring so beautifully.

As we sit in the sun with Scotch in hand, music playing and sun on our faces, we enjoy our father’s last few days. The only thing more enchanting than this garden of love is the wonderful people, nurses and volunteers that work here.

Rhoda was here – perhaps the last time she’ll feel the wind in her hair.  I love my mother.

It is winter and my mummy is dying.

A hummingbird gave me joy, knowing that God is in all creation.

I am so grateful this place is here.

Happy Earth Day!

This garden is a wonderful way to connect.

Blessings –Todd (Hospice Walking Group volunteer)

I miss you so much, Mom, my heart hurts.

I visited the garden.  You loved this spot.

Glad you’re not in any more pain.

I love you, Bill.

I always will.

The girls and I miss you so much.

You are in my thoughts every minute of the day.

“The stars are ours…”

Live life.  There is Heaven on Earth… the Hospice Roof Garden.

C’est bon!

I love the bell and know that my daddy hears it in his soul.

You have a beautiful garden.

Our son loved to touch and play with snow for the first time.

It is so peaceful.  Thank you!

It’s cold in the Garden

New Year’s Eve

Bitter wind blows

Time on my hands

May all who come here in 2011 find peace and joyful remembrance.

With profound gratitude for the care, compassion and commitment of all hospice workers.

When your heart is heavy, because someone you love will soon be gone, it is a place that makes you feel at peace.

This Garden green and forever growing, as the love of my mother within my heart. Mama, September 12, 2010. I love you.

Ringing the bell for you today, Uncle Paul.  I’ll always colour inside the lines and save your seat on Sundays for dinner. Love and miss you like crazy.

Thank you for having this garden here.  It is special in every way.

Bless you all, and keep on loving no matter what.

Beautiful Grandma Anna

You are the centre of our universe.  Without you it will not be easy to pick up all the pieces.  Even though your body is leaving us, your spirit will live on in each and every one of us.  Your wisdom will guide us and your love will keep us together, forever.

Once upon a time we were blessed with a great man. An athlete, a father, an uncle, a best friend and loving brother.  Jacky, we watched you fly away.  The bravest fight we’ve ever seen.  Your wit, your laugh and your kind heart will never be replaced nor forgotten.  Today is the day we never forget.  We love you forever, Uncle John.  Finally at peace.

I rang the bell ten times for Mum on October 23, 2011, and I know she heard me.  I love you, Ma.

Dear Grandmousky,

I miss you every day, but I am glad you aren’t suffering anymore.  I hope you are enjoying some visits with some of your loved ones who are no longer with us.  Please remember to visit me sometimes.

Love as ever, your – Natsky

Thank you, Sharon, for the words and the colours.

Thank you for the kids.

God bless your Mum and Dad.

Surround them in their sorrow and touch them deeply.

Keep the play alive.

All things are possible!

A peaceful walk around the garden.  Amazing flowers blooming, and a sprinkling of festive decorations.  Being with my friend Joy through her last days has been full of dedicated people and a well-purposed building, and this garden.  Thank you all.  You help make our last earthly journey an easier step into the next great adventure.  Joy says she will not die, she will “hop off the twig”.  So fly away, Joy, and be you.

Quality palliative and end-of-life care for all: Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for those facing life-limiting illness, death and bereavement through patient and family centred care, education, research and advocacy.