WOODWYNN PEACE GARDEN & Labyrinth at Woodwynn Farms.
Changing the world, one corner at a time:
This garden was created by Deryk Houston, in collaboration with Elizabeth Wellburn, Samuel Houston, and Richard LeBlanc at Woodwynn Farms. (Woodwynn farms is a therapeutic community for the homeless in Central Saanich, B.C., Canada.) I would also like to thank Renee Lindstrom, Founder – Labyrinth’s of Greater Victoria & Events, for her assistance. She has worked hard in connecting people to labyrinth awareness, it’s benefits and community building.
The Woodwynn Peace Garden is now open – Generally open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm. We hope to see you there! You might wish to phone to confirm opening hours. (250) 544-1175
Keep in mind that as you scroll down you are going backwards in time.
Here is a recent photo of the Sage plants. It was a lot of work keeping them watered this hot dry summer, but they seem to be off to a great start and we are looking forward to seeing them flower next spring. (not sure when this will happen but it should be beautiful. It has been wonderful to see the labyrinth area become more visually exciting as the sage burst onto the scene. I don’t want to jinx it, but we seem to have control of the thistles and the blackberries! They still come up but they are very manageable. Hope it stays that way!
The five hundred edible sage plants were just tiny little plants when we put them in early this year. They have grown again tremendously since the photo below. (Photo above shows the more recent).
Very exciting to get the sense of the Labyrinth taking more centre stage to the site as the plants fill in the space.
March 21st 2015
Another great day today. We had a lot of volunteers and help from the farm woofers and participants. We planted seven hundred plants in the Labyrinth today. (Edible sage and lavender.) This was a big step forward. It will take time for them to grow. Right now they are very small little plants!
We also pulled thistles! (ongoing idea)
March 14th, 2015
We are aiming for May 2nd opening for the Woodwynn Peace garden. (World Labyrinth Day) I’ve been creating more paths leading around the site and adding a number of details. Things like rotating the heavy steel cow feeder near the glass blue flowers, building a little bench near Elizabeths glass mosaic window, setting bolts on remaining sculptures, delivering more rocks for the paths and moving large rocks. Today we had help from Hanna “B” and Hanna and Nicole from U Vic. They did a super job of moving eight yards of wood chips into the paths.
These three great volunteers took valuable time out from their busy studies to help in the Labyrinth. Thank you for your kindness and great spirits!
February 21st, 2015
Original painting: “In the Moment” by Deryk Houston 30″X40″ $4,200.00
We spent today moving in big rocks that were brought over from the other end of the farm. Richard Leblanc did a superb job of lifting the very heavy rocks with the tractor. One of the participants,Terrance, also did a wonderful job helping in every way possible. Thank you both!
We are aiming for a May 2nd opening to the public. World Labyrinth Day.
We also installed Elizabeth’s window into the fence that hides the garbage bins.
February 16th 2015
Early February has been spent building the trellis in the foreground for the Kiwi trees. It is made from logs from the beach. Also built a fence at the back of the garbage bins to hide those…..which required dismantling a derelict old shed from the other side of the farm. (The recycled old wood has tons of character with old moss etc.)
January 10th 2015
Finished the deer fencing around the site and installed the front door to the entrance. Richard said that there was an old door up in one of the attics. I split it apart because the joints needed to be properly glued after years of wear and tear. After a good sanding and three coats of varnish it looked pretty good. We added some old recycled hardware and some backing plates to hide some major holes from past sins.
December 23rd 2014
Volunteers from the cross fit group for functional fitness came today and worked hard.
What a great bunch of people. They placed woodchips into the main labyrinth paths today and helped dig holes for the fencing. Just a wonderful group of young men and women. When they arrived it was an explosion of energy. They also moved a huge pile of cut oak sections for me also. Wow. It was moved so fast. The participants of the farm also helped out, moving the wood chips from a big pile across the farm to the Labyrinth site.
I loved everyone’s positive energy, despite the rain, and it has helped us strike several things off my long list of things to do. Thank you all so much!!!!
Below: Photo of Elizabeth, as she works in the rain on the fence ……….and then eyes me in the shelter….with my feet up. (I’d better be carefull…..she is carrying a big hammer:)
Below: Photo of Deryk’s new toy . He wishes!
Dec 2nd 2014
One thousand feet above Woodwynn Farms you can clearly see the Woodwynn Peace Garden. The center sculpture casts a shadow across the Labyrinth. It works like a sundial so that the workers know when it is lunchtime.
Dec 1st 2014
Today, Dec.5 2014 we flew over the Woodwynn Peace Garden to see for the first time the shapes. It was an exciting morning with Richard and Elizabeth and very gratifying to see all our hard work start to take shape.
The center sculpture shadow acts like a sundial and this photo was taken at around 8:53 am
More Radiating lines laid out. We are adding hay over the beds for the winter to help keep weeds down etc. Elizabeth is seen standing over by where a solstice sculpture will be placed at a later stage.The above photo was taken from the loft of the hayshed overlooking the site. It has taken 140 yards of top soil to fill the beds in the labyrinth area. There will be 250 lavender plants placed in the large circle and on the outer lines of the design. (Over five hundred edible sage plants will be in the labyrinth section as well).
(The center path cutting through the labyrinth is temporary. It is for access of soil only.)
For comparison to the above photo, I am including a “Before” photo below.
Oct 9th 2014
Samuel and I moved the above sculpture “Gates of Opportunity” from the city of Nanaimo onto the site today. The city of Nanaimo and the Art Gallery of Nanaimo donated the sculpture to the Peace Sanctuary Sculpture Park Society for this project. We are very grateful to them for this generous donation.
(Our sculpture forms a backdrop to the stone angel in the foreground, in loving memory of Rachel Elise Mario LeBlanc, August 23, 1985 – July 19th, 2014.)
Oct 5th 2014
Last rock was placed for the main Labyrinth today. There are around 3,500 rocks. We hand selected them from a site near Woodwynn farms. (Butler Bros quarry).
Sept 20th 2014
Start of laying stone for Main labyrinth area. Scene below as viewed from loft. We planted cover crops in the surrounding margins of the site today. Soil will be added inside the Labyrinth and five hundreds edible sage will be planted in the spring of 2015.
September 17th 2014
Today we installed the main center sculpture, “Sanctuary of Peace”. We can now start to place the rest of the stones for the layout of the Labyrinth. Richard LeBlanc used the tractor to lift it into position with the help of Samuel and Liev. Couldn’t have done this difficult task without them. Great job you guys! Thank you. We now have a visual center piece that will also act as a sun dial as it casts it’s shadow across the herb garden.
September 9th 2014
Today we poured the large foundation and set the anchoring bolts into the positions for the center sculpture. Samuel was a big help in digging the final last few details allowing us to set the best angle for the sculpture. I also had a lot of help from the volunteers from Saanichton bible fellowship. Also a couple of wonderful women started the hole and made super progress for which I am most grateful. It was great to see the large hole filled with strong concrete today. It is reinforced with steel re bar as well. The foundation is two thousand pounds and ten inch bolts.
In a few days we will instal the sculpture after the concrete cures a bit more. Then we can continue installing the rest of the labyrinth stones. Then the soil for the plants etc. All in good time!
August 30th 2014
We get the rocks from Butler Bros., a mine site that is a five minute drive from Woodwynn farms. Each day we load up the little acti van as much as we dare and trundle it back to the Labyrinth. Elizabeth helps load and unload the stones.
The following photo shows 37% of the stones installed for the main labyrinth in the center. I took the shot from up inside one of the barns. We hope to have all the stones in by the end of this Sept.
August 23rd 2014
We have started moving rocks onto the site in order to define the main Labyrinth section. This is another exciting step after months of doing hidden work such as digging holes for fences etc., and digging up large blackberry roots.
It is very rewarding at the end of the day to actually see progress. There will be approximately 3,500 rocks required to complete the main Labyrinth.
August 2nd 2014
“The Children’s International Peace and Harmony Statue”, by American artist David Kocka was moved onto the site today.
It was the end of a long journey for the sculpture after we drove across America to pick it up and bring it into Canada in the summer of 2012. We are grateful for this very generous donation (Sculpture value: $25,000.00 ) by Jason Crowe (The cello cries on foundation, Indiana USA). We also would like to acknowledge the kindness of Cindy Crowe, Jason’s amazing mom!
The photo below shows the sculpture where it will sit. The entire site will be planted with crops, blueberry bushes, edible sage plants, etc. But it will take another season before the site will be ready to be planted. (Cover will be spread over the site to protect the soil from wind and sun.)
This sculpture is placed at an important location on the site. It will take time for the apple trees, blueberry bushes, sage plants, and lavender plants, etc to grow. The children are leaning forward on a raised ground formation that overlooks what will be the entrance to the Labyrinth below.
Samuel Houston (my son) helped with the rototiller work. (Seen below).
We also positioned the sculpture “Points of Origin” which was kindly donate to this project by the city of Nanaimo and the Nanaimo Art Gallery. My son Samuel and I created this piece. (Keep in mind that the site will have crops planted around the entire site.)
July 24th 2014
Dramatic changes to the progress yesterday and today, thanks to the efforts of Chris Hall, from South Island Excavating. He brought his big machine onto the site yesterday and went to work immediately on moving earth in the main center section of the site. Chris is an amazing fellow and has transformed the site by moving hundreds of tons of material.
Talk about professional! Just a super job. Thank you so much Chris!!!
Photo below shows area “Before” digger went to work.
Photo below shows area “After” a couple of days work by Chris Hall. He also brought in a small Bobcat at the end for more detailed work and for generally skimming the area. Chris then fed material to the Bobcat.
Photo below shows Chris Hall inside his cab of the large machine. It was a pleasure working with him. He was able to understand exactly what I had in mind and quickly created the shape and basic structure. Chris went out of his way to give us a good deal and even donated several hours of the small Bobcats time to help us out. I can’t thank him enough.
Chris Hall: South Island Excavating 250 655 9666 (Cell: 250 744 7811)
MAY 17th 2014
Above is a photo of the large heart I created as an addition to the deer fence section. Woodwynn Farms is all about compassion and caring for everyone involved. The heart greets the participants as they round the road and it also greets the visitors as they come out of the path from the apple trees.
I have also been creating a screen structure for the two big Garbage bins. (It is the best place for the bins because of truck access and so I wanted to create a fencing system that added some interest.)The photo below is just the start of this endeavour. I will be placing two big steel gates decorated with red twig branches in order to fully screen the two large bins. I also will be planting some bushes on each side of this structure so that the side of the bins and the back will be completely hidden from view.
I have also built two compost boxes on each side of this structure.
The photo below is of Katie the gardener for Woodwynn Farms and she has been a great help with advice. Thanks Katie!
The photo below shows the clover starting to grow in the apple tree pathway as the weather starts to warm up.
February 24th 2014 Apple Trees Planted and first deer fence section installed.
Soil was brought in and the new apple trees were planted. This section has a ton of hidden work such as blackberry roots being ripped out and a mountain of soil moved onto the site.
Samuel and I wrestling logs that will be removed before soil added. Richard LeBlanc used the tractor to haul them out.
Photo below shows first soil added and levelled out after logs shown above are removed. Keep in mind that the large tanks on left will be removed.
Soil is being shot into location by large truck. Amazing way to move soil!
Photo below shows new level of rich soil.
Photo below shows new apple trees planted. We dug down deep and mixed the new soil with the soil below for each tree. It also shows log bench installed.
The photo below shows my son Samuel helping me install the trees.
I built the log bench shown below in our dining room. The logs were selected from trips to the local beaches. (My presence in the dining room during the building process was a bit touch and go:)
Photo below shows bench installed. It has several coats of exterior varnish added to protect it from the weather and we also have planted red twig dogwoods behind it and on each side so the final feeling will be a cozy protected sitting area.
The next task was to build a fence to stop the deer from getting in. The photo below shows the start of the main posts for that. (I know what you are thinking:) That fence is not tall enough for keeping deer out! But look further down below to see the rest of it. (I will also be fencing the entire 650 feet of the property with regular 8ft deer fencing wire. I wanted this special view of the valley to be preserved by creating a special fence for this section.)
Photos below show more of the deer fence that we installed to keep the deer at bay.
Photo below shows further progress on deer fence.
We also added glass flowers made from recycled Sapphire Blue Gin bottles. The bottles were first broken and then placed in a round pattern on the floor of the kiln and then melted or fused together. Then they are placed over the top of a plant pot and run through a heating cycle once more which causes them to melt and form into a flower shape. Elizabeth’s guidance was a big help on this.My son Samuel did the welding on the steel. The end result is a deer fence that we hope is interesting but does not block the beautiful view down the valley. See photo of the blue glass below.
With this fence section mostly complete, I have drawn up the next main phase of the main labyrinth and placement locations for the sculptures. (Shown in drawing below.)
If anyone wants to help with funding this part of the project, it would be greatly appreciated. Please e mail me at email@example.com
The main area of the design focuses on space for crops. Keep in mind that this is an early drawing of the design showing the labyrinth shape. We later changed this spiral path shape design to a more formal design of a labyrinth.
Oct 19th 2013 Still clearing Blackberries. Making slow but great progress.
Richard started moving soil into the pit today in order to fill in the deep areas and raise the level. It will take a few trips! But beats wheelbarrowing every shovel full. Thanks Richard!
Elizabeth getting into the swing of things! Whacking out blackberry roots.Way to go Elizabeth!
Wonderful Volunteer Help From UVIC Students: (Sometime late Sept 2013)
I had a great day out at Woodwynn Farms the other day. The task was to deal with the blackberry bushes growing over the site where the first section of pathway and fruit trees will be planted. Blackberries are extremely difficult to get rid of and so we are going to do our best one step at a time. We don;t want to use pesticides etc.
It was a rainy day. I should say “pouring rain”! Unbelievably wet. And yet several UVIC students braved the wet downpour and pitched in to help cut a huge swath through the tangled blackberries. There was Trilby Buck, Rachel Harman- Denhoed, Rachel Duke, Miffy Edge, Emma Weiss and also a bunch of fellows who haven’t sent in photos yet but helped pitch in. One of the other helpers was a young woman named “Houston”. We couldn’t establish if we were related but she had family in Scotland so we might have been.
There was also a young fellow named “Lief” who took charge and did a wonderful job. Thank you Lief! Thank you everyone!!
I just loved the energy of the group. We were all soaking wet but everyone was smiling and just doing their best to cheer everyone else on. An amazing group of young men and women and I am so grateful for the help. The world will be in the hands of these young people one day and that thought gives me great hope and joy. There was not one unhappy face among them. Just big smiles.
Here are a couple of photos.
And another shot Below:
Thanks everyone. Just a great bunch of people.
SLOWLY GETTING THE PIT AREA CLEARED OUT FURTHER:
We have cleared out as much as possible of the blackberries and the next step will be to slope the soil to make the path leading from one end to the other of this first section. Then we will add another soil layer and then plant the trees. It does seem that with blackberries, the best approach is to starve the roots. We do not want to use chemicals. It seems that those are not even completely effective anyways. So we are going with the strategy of starving the roots by making sure we cut any shoots right away that pop up anywhere and keep at that idea for as long as it takes. It seems that there are nodules everywhere under the ground and so they will pop up. But….. eventually they can be beat. So we will try that and report back.
(Update on Blackberry roots). So far, several months later, we seem to have weakened the blackberries. In the areas where we have kept digging out the shoots….we have kept them at bay and so we are hopeful.
(Further update on Blackberry roots. Nov. 2014) We definitely feel that we have the blackberries under control. We haven’t been on top of every stem but where we have cared to keep on top of them we have them beat. Pulling or cutting any shoots get’s them. I will be mowing the area more routinely this coming year. The area where the apple trees have been planted is blackberry free.
Link to Interview about Samuel Houston
Elizabeth’s blog has info as well: