Gardens Planted By Mike MacDonald
Finding Flowers has been able to identify 23 gardens across Canada planted by Mike MacDonald from 1995 - 2003, ranging as far west as the Musqueam/Squamish/Tsleil-Waututh territories in BC to Unama’ki, NS on the east coast. While only one of these gardens remains in its original state, this was anticipated by MacDonald, who recognized time as non-linear and cyclic. In the words of Catherine Ylitalo, “gardens are not meant to last forever”. The last standing Butterfly and Medicine Garden, located at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff, AB, has been a place to remember and reflect on MacDonald’s practise, and a source of inspiration in Finding Flowers’ replanting efforts.
Gardens Planted By Finding Flowers
Finding Flowers is currently replanting, revitalizing and learning from Mike MacDonald’s garden work, preserving, expanding and building new Indigenous plant and pollinator gardens at various locations across Canada. In 2019 we were able to plant three pollinator gardens that are based on MacDonald’s previous works, located at Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Woodland Cultural Centre and York University’s Maloca Community Garden. With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we were unable in 2020 to join our collaborators in person to plant their own gardens, however through online and remote collaboration our partners in Ociciwan, Musagetes, and the Bush Gallery have been able to lead the planting process themselves, and we look forward to visiting and programming in person there sometime soon.
Planting One Another: KWAG and the Woodland Cultural Centre
A project with care and coexistence at its core, Planting one Another features a twin re-planting of a Medicine and Butterfly garden by the late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald (1941-2006). Composed primarily of plants that are indigenous to the Americas, the two gardens will be cared for by two organizations situated within the Haldimand Tract: the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and the original site where the garden was first planted, the Woodland Cultural Centre.
Maloca Community Garden / York University - Everything we learnt about Mike MacDonald’s Gardens Garden
“The Maloca Community Garden was established by the Faculty of Environmental Studies students in March 1999… The garden features individual and communal plots for growing organic foods, and is maintained by members of the York community, with support of the University’s Grounds Staff” - sign at Maloca’s entrance on York University's Keele campus.
In 2019, marking the 20th anniversary of Maloca garden, Finding Flowers planted the Everything we learnt about Mike MacDonald’s Gardens Garden to celebrate the work and care of the students, faculty, staff and our surrounding communities who have been nourishing the growth of Maloca since its founding. The garden follows the entrance leading into the approximately 2,000 sq ft of land devoted to both individual and communal plots for growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers according to organic and agroecological principles.
Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre - kamâmak nihtâwikihcikan ᑲᒫᒪᐠ ᓂᐦᑖᐃᐧᑭᐦᒋᑲᐣ
Inspired by the work of the late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald’s, Butterfly and Medicine Gardens, kamâmak nihtâwikihcikan is composed of plants indigenous to the Americas. These Indigenous plants attract and sustain pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and can often be seen as traditional medicines used by Indigenous people.
In collaboration with Finding Flowers Project, Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective explores and expands on Mike MacDonald’s work; building a new garden in the downtown core of amiskwacîwâskahikan. Like Mike MacDonald’s gardens this space is an invitation to co-exist, centering reflection, interaction and care with medicine plants.