Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I grew up Catholic so I’m familiar with guilt. But over the last two decades I’ve managed to un-school myself from living up to an unrealistic ideal. Unfortunately its been creeping back up recently for something I had not predicted – our landscaping.

We started this process back in November when we seeded the grass. I should remind you that only in Vancouver can you plant things as Winter is coming and still expect them to grow. While we don’t have a luscious green garden, we do have the beginnings of a lawn - be it patchy and balding... But other than that we have nothing. No shrubs, no trees, no rooftop garden, no grasses, no fruiting plants and no flowers. As a result we also don’t have birds or bees or any of the other fabulous critters that make up a healthy eco-system, not to mention an inspiring melodic backdrop while sipping coffee.

Instead we have a big wide patio full of paving stones and a wide stone path taking over even more potential green space. We also have a lot of (very high quality) dirt. This is my nightmare. I knew that we would lose green space when we build the house but I thought that we’d replace it quickly enough that nature would be reintroduced on the ground floor as well as on our roof.

My guilt is probably compounded by the fact that at the David Suzuki Foundation we do a lot of research on the value that nature provides for people like us living is cities. Access to nature, whether though sitting in a garden, walking through a park or even just being able to see greenery from a window has profound impacts on our health. Greener environments:

  • Nurture psychologically and physically healthier populations,
  • Reduce stress levels and improve well-being overall,
  • Enhance recovery from surgery,
  • Enable higher levels of physical activity,
  •  Improve immune system functioning,
  • Reduce rates of childhood obesity,
  • Help diabetics achieve healthier blood glucose levels,
  • Improve independent living skills in seniors, and
  • Facilitate pollinators like birds and bees that are responsible for 1/3 of the food we see in the fridge. 
…and that’s just to name a few.

So I have good reason to feel guilty! But now especially, as the crocuses begin to bloom in Vancouver, Brendon and I have got to figure out how we can bring nature back to this beautiful piece of land. We miss it and we owe it to ourselves and Mother Nature to bring it back.