September 1, 2020
Landscape Ontario members to give back to frontline workers
Landscape Ontario will announce the 10 winners of the Garden Makeover Appreciation contest this fall. The initiative was designed by the association’s Covid-19 Task Force to celebrate the dedication of healthcare professionals and frontline workers in the fight against coronavirus.

Through social media and support from garden communicators, Landscape Ontario promoted the program and sought nominations from across the province until August 31, 2020. A subcommittee of the task force will meet with chapter representatives in mid-September to select winners of nine $5,000 garden makeovers (one in each chapter) and the grand prize makeover worth $25,000.

Over 700 nominations have been received from every corner of the province. Here are three finalists who have gone above and beyond to help members of their community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic:

Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a born caregiver, and her passion for helping people shines.

Fernandes is a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at Caressant Care Mary Bucke in St. Thomas, Ont., — a place she calls her second home. To Fernandes, her colleagues and residents are family.

“We are a big family in our very small home,” Fernandes says. “We are very protective of our family at Mary Bucke.” Fernandes recalls the day a younger coworker called her up and was in tears: “My parents are concerned about the spread of the virus and worried I could bring Covid home from work,” the coworker explained. The solution: “She moved in with me, and was with me for four months,” Fernandes explains. “It was an experience for me, because I’ve had two sons, so it was a learning curve, but she and I kept each other strong and safe. We made sure we did everything we possibly could to protect our family at Mary Bucke. We went grocery shopping once a month and got everything we would need. We washed everything down. We were so scared we would lose one of our residents, one of our family members.”

Fernandes says Covid-19 flipped their world upside down, but it also brought her, her colleagues and residents closer together than ever before.

Fernandes says her garden is work in progress, but that it brings her peace and tranquillity.

Read Lisa's full story at
Lisa Fernandes

Dr. Anne Marie Zadjlik

As a family physician and HIV-AIDS specialist, Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik has been battling pandemics her entire career. So when COVID-19 spread across Ontario, the Guelph-based doctor was ready.

“When I was starting to treat HIV positive patients in the early nineties, we still didn’t have a treatment,” Zajdlik, explained in an interview with CBC Toronto. “So the patients I was caring for were all dying. It was before 1996 when the drug cocktails were available, and we knew how the disease was transmitted, but there was still a lot of terror around whether or not the disease would be transmitted to health-care workers. So what I had to learn to do was not to be concerned about the disease being transmitted to me, but to move forward and help as much I could with people who were living with the virus. So it seems natural to me, with that training, to run towards the fire and into the COVID-19 pandemic because that’s what I was trained to do.”

That doesn’t mean she wasn’t afraid. In fact, Zajdlik says she was terrified in March and April when case numbers surged.

“I remember being at the Guelph Covid-19 clinic the day Premier Doug Ford announced the case projections from Public Health Ontario,” she said. “It was overwhelming. But I know my colleagues and I were very focused on doing our jobs and ensuring our community had the best information possible to keep themselves and their families safe.”

An avid gardener who enjoys a spacious property in Rockwood, Ont., Zajdlik has also taken to social media to fight misinformation with scientific facts.

Read Anne's full story at
Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik

Beth Game

Beth Game’s heart broke seeing patients pass away from Covid-19 without family by their side.

An Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse (ICU RN) at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, Ont., with over three decades’ experience, Game has seen just about everything, including the 2003 SARS outbreak. But the Covid-19 pandemic was very different.

“It was devastating to see people dying and they weren’t allowed to have their families with them,” Game recalled, fighting back the emotion in her voice. “So here we are, as nurses, sitting with total strangers, holding their hands as they died.”

It was heart wrenching for Game and her colleagues. So they came up with an idea to show their support to both patients and their families.

“We came up with this idea to make matching little metal hearts that say ‘you’re never alone,’ that we could give to the patients and the next of kin, along with a card that says ‘our condolences, and we want you to know that your loved one did not die alone. We were with them and we held their hand as they passed away.’”

The whole ICU team loved the idea, and one of Game’s co-worker’s named Connie came up with the “knitting families together” title.

Not one to sit idle, Game loves to be outside, but has not had a lot of time to care for her own gardens.

Read Beth's full story at
Beth Game

Member support needed

Once recipients are chosen for the 10 projects, Landscape Ontario’s dedicated members will mobilize to make these gardens a reality. Landscape Ontario is asking members to indicate support for one of their chapter garden makeovers. If you are able to contribute materials, products, labour or expertise to one of these worthy projects, visit and click on the Volunteer button. Details on the various projects to honour frontline workers will be communicated in the fall of 2020.