Sooke Garden Club: The Therapeutic garden

Monthly speaker series

Christine Hopkins will be this month’s guest speaker at the Sooke Garden Club on May 27. She is pictured here in a field of lavendar in France.

Plants have always played an essential role in our lives. Indeed, most transcend their use in our kitchens.

Medicinal plants and herbs are particularly notable. They contain substances known to modern and ancient civilizations for their healing properties. Before chemistry entered the picture and led to the synthesis of organic compounds, people looked to medicinal plants and herbs to cure all manner of ills, and the same plants and herbs are, to this day, recognized for their healing properties. Some are among the most commonly grown in our gardens: basil, garlic, lavender, oregano, peppermint, rosemary and tarragon. Many others can be found in the wild.

This month’s guest speaker at the Sooke Garden Club is Christine Hopkins, who will talk about the benefits of a therapeutic garden. Christine is a registered aromatherapist and essential oil therapist whose love affair with aromatic and therapeutic plants dates back to 1973. That’s also when she began a 20-year period of organic gardening, growing enough to provide a growing family with an abundance of beautiful, healthy food in the short, intense growing window of the snowy West Kootenays. While the priority was clearly on growing food, the fragrant and medicinal plants became – and remain – a passion for her.

After moving to French Beach and building a home on an acre of pristine, forested land, the area’s mild climate and rich soil precipitated a renewed growing frenzy, this time with an emphasis on lavender and other aromatics. It was a love of these plants and their unique properties that led Christine into a career in essential oil therapy, which involves the use of extremely concentrated, distilled and extracted essential oils from aromatic herbs and other plants.

More recently, a new passion has taken hold: the ‘sea garden.’ Christine now integrates seaweeds into both therapeutic treatments and educational sessions and workshops.

Interestingly, this new focus has brought her gardening obsession back full circle. She is also using the seaweeds, with their phenomenal nutritional wealth, to reinvigorate both her organic vegetable garden and the wonderful, fragrant medicinals that she also grows.

In “Fragrant Gardens and Therapeutic Plants,” Christine will share the unique properties of some of the aromatics in both their herbal and essential oil form. The fact that she has had to ‘reinvigorate’ her garden by removing some giant trees to let in more sun and build up the soil to restore a balance beneficial to most of the herbs and aromatics will also be part of the discussion

Join us on Wednesday, May 27, 7:30 p.m., in the Sooke Legion Hall.

Membership is $15 for the year and can be purchased at the door. There will also be a parlour show and plant sale.

For more information, e-mail  to: sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone 250-642-0058.

Loretta Fritz

Sooke Garden Club