The Ginkgo Tree Botanical Sanctuary

Dogwood and Brambles Farm, Ontario Canada
Sanctuary Stewards: Penelope Beaudrow and Will Hutchison

My partner and I live on a lovely little farm called Dogwood and Brambles in central Ontario. This farm has been my personal sanctuary for over thirty years. It is part of me, and I am part of it. Will and I are at our happiest roaming the fields and bush with our dogs, Fred, Gus, and Pearl while identifying and picking a few leaves or flowers, which will become our next pot of tea. Many of these plants, the “At-Risk” and “To-Watch” have solely been identified and nurtured by me. We do not use these plants for teas or medicine. We have reintroduced many of these plants and welcomed Mother Nature back to stay.

I am so thankful that I have been able to also nurture and raise my four children in this little piece of heaven, now we have grandchildren, who will be having their own adventures on this family farm, learning to appreciate the nature that surrounds us. My dad, Frank, works along with us keeping up our gardens and being an amazing land steward. Did I mention he is 80 years old and irreplaceable? Only a small portion of our 100-acre farm is actually “farmed”.

While most of our neighbors are clearing every fence row and bush for more workable land, we have taken over 60 acres of workable land and given it back to nature. Trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and herbs are all thriving, increasing the natural habitat for the surrounding wildlife. Common sightings are deer, rabbits, coyotes, wild turkeys, hawks, raccoons, and rare sightings of bobcats, bears, and even a cougar.

It is on this land since 2010 that herbal wisdom has been shared, taught, and felt. I share the knowledge that I have been gifted with my students on our nature walks and in workshops. I feel it is so important to share and educate about our plants.

The preservation of plants and natural habitat for wildlife and for others has been a huge part of what and who we are. It wasn’t until last year after speaking to United Plant Saver volunteers at the New England Women’s Herbal Conference that I realized that my personal sanctuary is already a botanical sanctuary! We are very proud to say that last year we became a Botanical Sanctuary Member of United Plant Savers, the first member in Ontario!

Our future goals here on our farm are simple—to increase the number of “At-Risk” plant colonies annually by way of donations, volunteers, and hands on education. We will offer “At- Risk” botanical walks and lectures. It is my dream that one of my children or grandchildren will carry on my work with plants, nurturing and loving our sanctuary as much as I do.
I am incredibly thankful every day for my work within the herbal community introducing people to the many uses of herbs and seeing them begin to use them daily—for themselves and their loved ones (human and pet)—it is truly my life’s passion!