Reflections from an older resident




Creating a bit of paradise on a small city lot in Comox

When I retired from a fulfilling nursing career in 2016, it felt not only like I had begun a new chapter in my life, but the beginning of a completely different book!

Before retirement, I had previously dabbled with growing a small organic vegetable and flower garden. Now I had more time and energy to engage my creative energies.

In the small garden bed at the front of my house, I planted peonies, irises, lupines, a rose bush, and a dozen dahlias. Ah, dahlias. I loved their bold display of colour and form, and I discovered, to my delight, that the more you cut them, the more they grow!

The following year, I increased both the size of my flower garden and the number of dahlias. Then, the next year, I did it again! What had started out as a keen interest quickly became a passion and—dare I say—a bit of an addiction.

One can only make so many beautiful bouquets for oneself, so I began putting out five bouquets for sale—displayed in glass jars and vases purchased from local thrift stores—on a small table at the end of my driveway.

The area gets full sunshine, so in 2017 I bought a four-by-six-foot canopy with one side panel which I move throughout the day to shade my precious bouquets and prevent them from wilting.

Right from the beginning, I decided to contribute all the funds I made to charity. It was like doing volunteer work in my own garden. I called my stand “Bouquets of Happiness.”

I also began expanding my backyard garden, which now supplies me with yummy fruits (grapes, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, strawberries, nectarines, watermelons, and seven varieties of apples) and veggies (garlic, peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, kale, collards, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbages). Not having a greenhouse, I feel very fortunate to be able to purchase beautiful, healthy, organic veggie starter plants from the Comox Valley Farmers Market and seeds at Comox Valley’s Seedy Saturday. It is amazing how much food you can grow in a small area!

In 2021, when my flower garden was running out of room, a couple of wonderful neighbours permitted me to plant beds at their places, enabling me to cut more flowers for my bouquets.

A full-time passion

The height of my addiction was 2022, when I planted 130 dahlia tubers as well as many other flowers, including amazing 12-foot-tall sunflowers. My vegetables and fruits kept me (and some of my neighbours) well fed, and my flowers kept me very busy. It was a full-time passion.

Over the past seven years, my little Bouquets of Happiness flower stand has raised over $10,000, with funds going to the local Food Bank; the local SPCA; SEVA for vision care in Guatemala and Nepal; Doctors Without Borders; Project Watershed (Kus-kus-sum); the Indian Residential School Survivors Society; and the Canadian Support Ukraine Foundation.

The wonderful thing about creating a garden is that while change is inevitable, you are never limited. Last year, I focused on what I was able to manage in my own garden, and this year I will scale that back, too, because this summer my dog Shadow and I plan on spending more time exploring Vancouver Island in my 1996 VW van.

I usually take a few bouquets with me and give them out on my camping trips. When I’m home I shall still put out bouquets, and I will continue to happily make bouquets for anyone who knocks on my door. I am looking forward to seeing what happens in my garden next.