Comfortable – that was the first thought that crossed Paul D’Angelo’s mind upon his first gardening volunteer shift. “The people made me feel at ease,” Paul recalls. “Everyone is very relaxed here.” With six years of volunteer experience under his belt, Paul reminisces about everything he had learned. While he has always enjoyed gardening before volunteering, he was eager to expand his knowledge by joining our community. “I learned a lot about what plants are hardy enough are to survive and even transformed my own into a pollinator-friendly garden, full of native plants, because of TBG,” he says. “I haven’t had to buy a plant in five years because I learned to split.” Paul’s expertise has spread; he is the plant guy that all his neighbours come to for advice.
Beyond volunteering, Paul is an avid attendee of the Edward Summer Music Series, especially when Lemon Bucket Orkestra hits the stage. “This group is just a laugh, and believe it or not, they have their own groupies,” he says. “They’ve just got great personalities and the music is very danceable.”
There are several reasons that draws Paul into the TBG community, but the most significant one is the impact the Garden has on his mental and physical health. “A quiet green space is an absolute necessity for every human being,” he says. “We all need a little bit of dirt to crawl around in.”
Even in the pandemic, Paul found solace here at TBG. “I volunteered during the pandemic and sought relaxation among the chaos,” he says. “It was and continues to be a space for me to decompress in.” Paul’s connection to the Garden stretches back to his youth, where he remembers hanging out among nature, swimming in the Don River or catching snapping turtles down by Wilket Creek. Even after 64 years, his commitment to TBG is unwavering.
Upon each visit, Paul remains in awe of the Garden, community, and surrounding biodiversity. There’s always something to see at TBG. “The wildlife here is amazing,” he recalls. “I once saw a doe with triplets!”
The garden is dependable. It’s a supportive space; one that is constant through the highs and lows of a person’s life. “It’s just relaxing and planting things that grow and become beautiful during the different seasons,” he says. Paul appreciates that TBG is a place of rest, peace, and community. “The city is growing so fast and its nice to come to a place to that is quiet and everyone here is happy,” he remarks.
Working alongside so many wonderful people that share a common goal continues to be a highlight for Paul. He never ceases to be amazed by the beginner and expert gardeners alike. “When you visit TBG, you put on your blue jeans and just work with the dirt,” Paul says. “It’s really amazing how the TBG community becomes one.”