Nestled quietly between Kings Road and Newton Street as cars zip along the busy Richmond Road, sits a garden.
It is marked off by two brick archways that signify a transition from the busy suburban neighbourhood to a peaceful natural oasis.
The appropriately-named Spirit Garden is a hidden gem in the North Jubilee neighbourhood and is home to hundreds of different types of flowers and trees.
“We wanted to have a space that was open and welcoming for everyone to come. Sort of like a pocket park where people could pause and look at the flowers and know that this project was made by neighbours coming together,” said Kathrynn Foster, a long-time volunteers who originally spearheaded the project.
The 50-foot wide by 300-foot long space was originally a culvert back in 1996 before the City of Victoria allowed the North Jubilee Neighbourhood Association to turn it into a green space.
“It was uncared for, it was the kind of place where people would dump their old batteries and pieces of cars and things like that,” said Foster. “We were just starting the North Jubilee Neighbourhood Association and one of the things that came to our attention right away was the fact that we have no parks.”
After consulting with the city, they received a grant that helped get the volunteer project off the ground.
For the last two decades (and $19,000 later), the self-sustaining garden has grown and flourished all thanks to hundreds of volunteers who have put in thousands of hours to planting donated trees and flowers, installing sprinkling systems, and building the five-foot walkway and the two brick archways on either side of the garden.
Everything from the soil to the trees have come from volunteer labour and donations, added Foster.
Marie Elliott, who lives a few blocks away from the garden, has been volunteering for the past 10 years.
“It’s just peaceful, you have the whole garden to yourself most of the time,” said Elliott, who spends most of her time pulling out weeds and trimming back shrubs. “It’s so beautiful.”
This year, the garden is celebrating 20 years since the soil was first laid in 1996. It continues to be used as a walkway from one street to another, as a place to read, sketch, relax and garden and just spent time with nature, added Foster.
Donations can be made to the garden through the North Jubilee Neighbourhood Association.