Caelum Wishart

A Peaceful, Calming Oasis


Caelum Wishart is the head gardener at the Arboretum. He shares his personal story of how the garden has provided peace and tranquility for himself and his partner. Visitors to the Arboretum have approached him before to express gratitude for the way the garden has had a positive impact on the mental health of their loved ones.
Interview by W. Alex Goddard, HIST*3560 student, University of Guelph.

Listen to more stories:
Wildlife Experiences of Byron
Stories from the Arboretum Head Gardener
The Experience During Covid 


0:00 My name is Caelum Wishart and I’m the head gardener here at the Guelph Arboretum.

0:05 So I typically take care of all the formal gardens around the park here.

0:10 So we’re in the, the park in the garden right now.

0:14 We’re in between the three formal gardens of the arboretum.

0:18 So the Japanese garden is situated between the Italian garden and the English Garden which are all sort of enclosed by very formal cos.

0:32 I started working here as the gardener three years ago and I think the Japanese garden was the garden that I was most drawn to and most excited about working in.

0:47 just because of how different it is from gardens that we’re used to seeing.

0:55 It’s it’s a lot different than anything that we’re used to seeing in North American culture.

1:01 So it’s really interesting design style to include in our arboretum.

1:12 There’s just something about it that’s really like alerting to and I think a lot of people agree as well.

1:18 It’s you just get that sense of peace and relaxation when you enter the garden and it’s very common and it’s just it’s just totally different than, than anything else around.

1:35 Yeah, I, I guess on a, a personal level, I visited a few Japanese gardens with my partner.

1:44 It’s really amazing to see are in that space because just immediately she’s relaxed and she feels that calmness

1:55 So yeah, on a personal level that’s kind of hits me on a lot of, and I, I feel that too, especially if you’re ever feeling stressed or anxious.

2:09 It’s yeah, it’s just it has a different evokes those different emotions than other girls with it.

2:17 So there was a woman who came in sometime last year with her son who was suffering from a mental illness and she strictly just came in to say thank you.

2:32 And how much it meant to her and her son because any time they came to the and they would always come to the Japanese and that would be the only place where he would feel a piece basically.

2:46 And how much that meant to her because she, she really ever gets to see her son like that.

2:52 So she just wanted to show her gratitude.

2:55 And I think that meant a lot to me like those very specific individual stories, like just helping people deal with stress or mental illnesses or whatever.

3:07 It’s, I don’t know, I feel like it’s definitely becoming more important as we’ve seen over the last two years.

3:14 People needing to get outside and be immersed in those environments because we’re stuck inside all the time.

3:22 So, yeah, I think those sorts of stories are really impactful