In 2008, the congregation of Sharon-Hope approved a new and exciting project—a Memory Garden.
The Garden was the vision of Bloise Thomson and the late Edwin Hunt, and it was intended to be an accessible garden retreat to be used for a variety of purposes—-from a place for quiet reflection, to an outdoor church service venue, to a wedding location.
The professionally designed Memory Garden is located just north of the church building. We broke ground in the spring of 2009 when the site was re-graded, electric service was brought in, and topsoil was added. A team of volunteers planted cedars along the north property line to form a hedge that would serve as the backdrop to the Garden, and provide privacy. Soon, another team was rolling countless rolls of sod. Over the next several years, planting beds were prepared, and a variety of plants were established including an ornamental tree, flowering shrubs, vines, and perennials. In 2010, a cement pad was poured, and an arbor was added in 2012. The arbor was designed to be reminiscent of the Sharon Temple which is an historic landmark situated just north of our church.
In 2014, we saw work completed on a light and beautiful rock water fountain. This water feature is comprised of a large centre rock representing Jesus, surrounded by twelve smaller rocks representing the disciples. The rocks have been gathered from farms in the area to commemorate the rural community that established the original Sharon Methodist Church and the Hope Church. These two congregations amalgamated in 1954 to form Sharon-Hope United Church. Stone was also gathered from the sight of the original Hope Church. A ninety gallon tank surrounded by one ton of crushed stone allows water to continuously cycle up through the centre rock which weighs in at 2 tons. The words, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water. John 7” are inscribed on the large centre stone.
Benches have also been added to the Garden. These attractive and comfortable benches have been custom made from Honduras Kayu. Kayu is an exotic mahogany hardwood in the Teak family that naturally resists rot. The metal frame benches are extremely heavy and will stand up over time.
In 2016, a beautiful stone patio and sidewalk were added to the Memory Garden. This new patio not only enhances the Garden, but also opens up increased opportunities for outdoor events. A sidewalk from the patio provides accessible access to and from the parking lot and church building using the south side door. The patio can also be accessed from the two doors on the north side of the sanctuary. Stone pavers that were once part of the original sidewalk surrounding the parking lot were used to create the patio.
The children from Noah’s Ark Preschool are regular visitors to this special garden retreat. Here they are able to learn about plants, and experience the changes in the season first hand. As well, they all enjoy the fountain water feature! A certain minister has been known to steal away for a quiet lunch break in the arbor. And, we were very excited to recently see the location used for wedding photographs—what a beautiful backdrop!
Our beautiful Memory Garden continues to “blossom” under the care of our resident gardeners. We are also able to enjoy these blooms inside as well, as the sanctuary is regularly adorned with seasonal offerings from the variety of plantings that have taken hold since we first broke ground. The Property Team aptly manages the hardscape elements,
Signage to commemorate the names of those who have donated plants and other items will also be added in the near future.
This project has been generously funded by donations of money and materials from congregation and community members. In addition, innumerable hours of manual labor have been donated by a long list of dedicated volunteers. Thank you to all who have shared in making this dream a reality!
If you are interested in becoming involved in the care of the Memory Garden or would like more information about this project, please let us know.