By Chadd Cawson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Life moves pretty fast, so stop and smell the garden flowers. Invigorating fresh aromas and the rippling sounds of water flowing down a rock fountain are sure to soothe the senses on even the hardest of days. Serenity and pleasure can be found at the Columbia House Healing Gardens, now open to the public. Columbia House Healing Gardens-A Place for Peace had its grand opening on June 21, also the summer solstice, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. 

“We’re really happy with how it came out. We want to get the word out that this is a public facility that we encourage the community to use, says John Newton, President of the Columbia House Enhancement Society “It’s called a Place of Peace, and that’s really the idea. Events will be held here and it will be available for weddings, and for grads to get their photos taken. It’s just a beautiful spot for people to come.”

Local bands L8 and Smarty Pants entertained those in attendance under the fully wired for power canopy. 

“Every Tuesday musicians play here year-round,” says Newton. “It’s weather dependent of course in the gardens under the canopy, but we’ve already had L8 come out to play on our nicer days this year.” L8 and local musician Mike Smith wrote and performed their own original tributes to Columbia House on Tuesday’s Grand opening. Interior Health, and head gardener Elizabeth Shopland spoke to the benefits of the garden, while other dignitaries such as Mayor Al Miller spoke at the event. The ribbon was cut at 2 p.m., declaring Columbia House Healing Garden- A Place for Peace a public space. 

“This is an amazing place,” Mayor Al Miller told the Pioneer. “All the folks that have participated in the building of the gardens have done a great job! It’s going to be a huge community asset for both residents and citizens alike to enjoy. I’m certainly very pleased to be a part of it.”

Columbia House Healing Gardens started its first phase four years ago when what was once just an open field would become a space where people could just go and sit and enjoy. What was supposed to be a two-year project doubled in length due to the pandemic. The upper patio above the gardens belongs to the 35 residents of the long-term care facility which is intended for them, staff, and visitors. 

The idea for the healing gardens was one that sprouted long ago with donations made with the literal intention of it being seed money to see this idea bloom and come into fruition. The Columbia House Enhancement Society was then formed to build on it. The society is looking for stewards for funding and upkeep for this majestic place of peace. 

“This is fairly expensive to maintain so we are looking for stewards of the garden, so we always have the money to keep it maintained like this. We need to raise about thirty grand a year. After the grand opening the idea is to continue developing the garden. If we can generate $30,000 to 40,000 a year off our stewards, then we can not only maintain but also build more,” says Newton. “It’s an idea much like Disneyland, every time you walk in the garden, we want it to be the same. Everything is perfect all the time, but you need the money to do that. With this space we can see the community in here, and the residents coming out to see the action. There’s always something going on in here. That’s part of life. We want to see those relationships between the public and the residents build.” 

For more information on the gardens and society visit