OTTAWA -- It’s a garden where community is blooming, thanks to some senior visionaries wanting to make a difference.

"This has become a crossroads where the community meets the seniors. To us that’s the purpose," said Louise Lariviere.

Lariviere began renting at Villa Bruyere 10 years ago. She and her husband loved the facility, but missed connecting with their former neighbours. So, the couple got to thinking.

"How can we, as a couple, encourage people to interact with the surrounding community? So, we decided to do this garden," said Lariviere.

Initially, Lariviere said the City of Ottawa frowned upon its land being used. 

However, after the transformation of the landscape, all were delighted.  That enthusiasm continues to be shared by everyone using the flower-lined bike path near Orleans Boulevard.

Ottawa community garden

"A medical doctor from the (University of Ottawa) Heart Institute that comes every day cycles to work. She told us when she comes here in the morning it gives her strength," Lariviere said.

"So this is the lover’s lane and part of the lover’s lane is the enchanted forest," said a smiling Lariviere, while touring me through the forest.

The forest is an exciting draw for neighbourhood children. It’s a place to play, imagine and feel free.

"Especially during the pandemic.  It was a moment of joy in this moment of hardship," said Lariviere.

There are actually several gardens here and several gardeners. They’re planting seeds of hope and beauty for their community.

There used to be a pile of rubbish on one section of the path, but now it’s transformed, thanks to Claudette and Albert Potvin.

"We thought the beauty of flowers would bring happiness to the elderly people here," said Claudette.

"Flowers always bring joy.  A little bit of happiness here and there along the path, I think that’s OK," she said.

"And it gives us some hope for the future," said her husband Albert.

Ottawa community guarden

A woman who planted another garden along the path, years ago, recently broke her hip. 

So, resident Claude St. Cyr has kept things blooming, while continuing her traditions of kindness.

"If she saw an elderly person in a wheelchair, she’d pick a couple of flowers and give them to that person. You wouldn’t believe the reception it got from those people," said St. Cyr.

Louise Lariviere and others pay for the plants, water them, and help with the gardens’ designs, but a professional gardener does much of the heavy lifting.

"We have the audacity to do it but not the mobility," said Lariviere with a smile.

And for that audacity, a community of cyclists, walkers, runners and dog walkers, says 'thanks' to Lariviere and her happy gardeners.

"From a seed that we planted, a beautiful, beautiful community emerged."