Enabling garden behind Marden library a delight for all the senses

MARDEN – The Guelph Township Horticultural Society wants us to come to our senses.

All of them – sight, smell, touch, sound and taste.

And they invite us to do that in the enabling garden society members have constructed and maintained behind the Marden Library  since 2010.


Ruth Robinson, chair of the club’s civic planting committee, designed the space and has kept a watchful eye on it over the years.

It was sparked by a donation by Marian Brennan, who left the horticultural society a “sizeable” amount of money when she died.

The club wanted to install a public garden somewhere in Guelph Township, now Guelph-Eramosa Township since amalgamation, and thought it would be fun and practical to make it an enabling garden.

Enabling gardens are designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities. They usually feature raised planter boxes and smooth level pathways and surfaces for people in wheelchairs and walkers.

“But they also incite the senses,” Robinson said.

“They are visual, obviously, but there is fragrance, a gurgling rock to listen to, and all kinds of texture in this garden. We thought it would be fun to have a bit of this and that.”

Features – The Marian Brennan Enabling Garden features a shade structure, a shed with a green roof, and a gazebo.

Robinson said the horticultural society worked with the township and Wellington County on the project, with the township installing the concrete pad, gazebo and shade structure, and the society providing most of the plant materials.

As it is located behind the library, with it’s full kitchen, the space is often rented for weddings and other functions.

“It’s a real asset to the building with the kitchen right there,” Robinson said.

There are more than 100 different varieties of plants, “and we keep adding to it,” Robinson said.

They’ve installed a metal arbour, there’s a shed with a green roof, and a grove of native trees.

And benches. Plenty of room to walk or sit and take it all in.

“I get a lot of personal satisfaction with this,” said Robinson, who is an environmental horticulturalist and operated a landscaping business with her husband for many years.

“A lot of people comment on it now that it’s mature. It’s such a surprise and a delight to walk around the corner and see all this here.

“After all the work, you want people to enjoy it,” she said.