November 1, 2021
Teamwork shines as bright as the landscaping at London Chapter Garden Makeover
When volunteers from the London Chapter of Landscape Ontario arrived at Lisa Fernandes’ home to begin work on her garden makeover, she gave them free rein on the project. 

She certainly doesn’t regret that decision. 

“I said, ‘you guys have the wheel. Do whatever you think you need to do.’ The end result was amazing,” Fernandes said. “That was really the most amazing experience I have had in a very long time. Everything is beautiful. It was a very heartwarming experience.” 

Landscape Ontario’s Garden Makeover contest was created to recognize the dedication of frontline workers across the province. The program received more than 1,000 nominations, and Fernandes was one of 10 recipients awarded a $5,000 garden makeover from the association. Fernandes is a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at Caressant Care Mary Bucke in her hometown of St. Thomas, Ont.

Fernandes considers the long-term care facility her second home, and the residents and her fellow staff as family. When COVID-19 began to spread in Canada, it flipped their world upside down. During the worst months of the pandemic, Fernandes stepped in to provide the affection and love residents missed during lockdowns. However, a tough year meant she would struggle with garden upkeep. 

“It was just nice to have someone help me with all this,” Fernandes said. “To have a whole team show up here, it was overwhelming.” 

While Fernandes is elated with her garden makeover, she’s also impressed with the teamwork demonstrated by the volunteers. 

“I was really impressed with how everybody came together,” she said. “I’m a team player, and the way everybody just flowed together was amazing to see. Yes, it was about the work, but it was also the team that was here. It was just an awesome day.”

Ryan Marshall, Garden Makeover coordinator and vice-president of operations for Turf Pro Landscaping, said about 12 volunteers worked a combined 80 hours of work to complete the makeover. 

“It was pretty special. I know everyone involved took time out of their workday to get it done. Normally we would do volunteer projects on the weekend,” Marshall said. “Everyone that was there really appreciated what we were doing for frontline workers, and got some enjoyment out of being able to help.”

The makeover included replacing the lawn with new sod and topsoil; rejuvenating the garden beds with new edging, plants and mulch; and transforming a garden sculpture into a water feature. Fernandes’ home also includes what she calls her “secret garden,” a secluded area of her property she uses to unwind after work. As a finishing touch, LO volunteers built a gravel pathway leading to the bench in her secret garden. 

“She was very happy with that because it was a spur of the moment add-on to the project,” Marshall said.  

Like other LO Garden Makeover projects honouring frontline workers, the budget exceeded the original $5,000 commitment. Marshall said the work completed at Fernandes’ home would likely cost more than $8,000. 

“We had quite a bit of help from our suppliers. Everything was donated,” Marshall said. “The material cost alone was probably close to $5,000.”

Fisher’s Landscape Depot, a SiteOne company, donated the water feature supplies, topsoil and river stone; Greenhorizons Sod Farms donated the sod; Baseline Nurseries provided the mulch; and Lifted Trucking donated a bin and disposed of the removed grass and plant material.

Volunteers from Turf Pro Landscaping, Bluejay Irrigation, Beamish Landscaping; Baseline Nurseries; and retired landscaper Bob Allen provided the labour to complete the project.