When I first moved here almost four years ago, Pacific Gardens did not look like a garden - it looked like the Gobi desert.
My moving van got stuck in a dust-filled rut trying to reach my door. Clouds of brown dust hung over the grounds. Not a flower or blade of grass could be seen.
But now I look out and see a clover-studded green lawn, berry-laden bushes, and garden beds full of lettuce, kale, chard and other veggies.
Flowers of every colour and description appear in profusion - red, orange, yellow, mauve, white - with purple lavender in each front garden.
It took the work of many green thumbs to make this a green place, and a great deal of determination to make it so beautiful.
We were not well-served by those who were supposed to help us build Pacific Gardens and create our landscaping.
An unscrupulous contractor took away the rich topsoil from the years of farming on our site to another development they were working on nearby.
The thin soil that they left was littered with stones, sticks, and bits of plastic and debris left over from the construction.
The person hired to lay down a form of permanent rye grass for our lawn gave us a variety that grew faster than weeds - and had some in it.
Plants were put in the wrong place. Those that needed strong sunlight were put in shaded areas, those that needed a dark, cool place were placed in hot sunny ones.
Some died; others had strange blights or diseases. Some were just wrong for what we wanted, which were indigenous and food-producing plants.
For a lot of people, this could have been really discouraging. For our Pacific Gardeners, it was a challenge - and one they met.
They planted, they weeded, they watered, they mowed, they mulched, they moved plants and shrubs and even trees.
They composted with a vengeance. They called on friends in Nanaimo and beyond for donations of manure and straw and grass clippings and leaves.
The city of Nanaimo donated a small mountain of topsoil, which took many, many full wheelbarrows and shovels to move to the garden beds.
Kaj built a roomy shed for all the tools and equipment, making sure not to disturb a bird's nest that got built inside while he was constructing it!
The result of all that hard work is plain to see, with a herb garden, raised beds, vegetables galore, a plethora of flowers, and happy birds and bees too.
As a non-gardener, I have observed this happening, and am awed and incredibly grateful for the transformation of what was a desert into a blooming garden.
To all the green thumbs at Pacific Gardens, thank you so much!
This is just another reason why I love living here.