Trillium North Park, Thornton St at Malkin
Technically, the lookout place is not here, where the mural-painted shipping containers and the garden beds lie near the rows of cherry trees, but slightly up the hill from us along Atlantic; there, in the long ago, the promontory was the perfect spot to camp and be able to survey almost the whole breadth of the estuary at once: all the flocks, all the big creeks where the fish might be running, all the edges and shorelines where the elk, deer, bear, wolves, cougars and more might be coming down to see.
Now we’ve arrived back at a little corner of EartHand. This park, Trillium North, was opened in 2014; we’ve been the artists-in-residence here since then. The park has already undergone some changes: the land under the cherry trees used to be glaring gravel, and much of the rest of the outer areas were pollinator meadows that were a bit too sparse to be comely, so it was all changed to lawn; irrigation was installed in more areas; the shrubbery along the western edge, by the parking lot, was removed because of the difficulty of keeping it free of garbage; and a new raised garden bed for tea and fibre plants was installed along the eastern side of our work bays.
In the raised garden beds you’ll find several kinds of mint and a large and lush rosemary for tea; a thriving colony of fireweed and some dogbane for fibre; coreopsis, hollyhocks, chrysanthemums and marigolds for dye; and a variety of volunteer salad greens.
At the eastern side of the bays and back of the shipping containers we have a lush population of nettles, day lilies, and milkweed for fibre; for dyes, some mahonia, and an alum-accumulating plant called Heuchera (coral bells). The honeysuckle that trails up the chain link attracts hummingbirds that buzz us during our evening studio sessions.
Toward the west from the shipping containers are the rain swales, full of grasses, lupines, some nettles, lots of Nootka rose and hardhack, some spirea, and a cultivar of Salix purpurea called ‘Arctic dwarf willow’, which has lovely whips for weaving if you don’t mind lots of clipping, and is not at all related to Salix arctica.
The new hospital campus is going in next door, but this place will still be a special park — a landscape meant to help us express the fullness of our humanity, in our creativity and our relationships with the more-than-human world. May we look out and see ourselves honouring this meaning through time.