With the vision of having an outdoor area that would enable our parish and the greater community to see and experience Our Lord's creations, small and great, Fr. Sergious, personally purchased a ¼ acre plot next to the "Peragrim cottage ", adjacent to the Temple and hall. St. Raphael's was gifted this neglected and overgrown woodland lot in the month of March 2022. St. Raphael's accepted this gift and approved the "bush hogging " of the lot with Fr. Sergious financing the project.

 

With the clearance of the underbrush and smaller trees, the large "mother trees" and the more unusual trees were left to expose this wondrous little lot. Wood chips were/are delivered by tree surgeons such as Griffin Tree Company and Wright tree company, who have been so instrumental to this project. Only 49 more truckloads. 

The local neighbors came in force with heavy machinery, shovels and rakes. 

 

Starting late in March and continuing to this day, many cuttings are being prepared and a vast amount of plants are brought by our zealous neighbors. One would think this is some kind of plant nursery. Thank you to all our Highlands' Park neighbors for their unwavering labor and support. Mark for his trusty "steerskid ", 'move-on-a-dime' expertise, Zach for his excitement for plants and multiple talents, Cowboy for wood chips and talent, and Lyod and his wife Debbie for delivering large quantities of plants from their son Jason from South Florida. 

 

The woodland lot 'walkabout ' is a functioning encounter with God in all His creation. Little plants, big plants and trees. Pollinators of all kinds. Little thatchers, 

pileated  woodpeckers, hawks and great horned owls. Squirrels, possums, raccoons, flying Squirrels and bats. All are playing about and hovering above. Stop, look and listen. 

 

Attention was given to include native Floridian fruiting trees and vegetation to have our friends of the wild to be at home. Hundreds of various epiphytes were affixed to the trees where green anoles  and tree frogs find refuge. It's so nice to see them at their best.

 

We are in the process of blazing the trails to better navigate our adventures and have a fuller experience of what's at hand. A handsome native Floridian, dolostone, 3-ton rock was delivered by neighbor Colton and placed by Mark. It's set to be the featured, central focal point of the woodland lot. With the hole yet to be drilled to convert it into a bubbling fountain, it will offer all creatures drinks and bathes. Of course, eluding to the rock that Moses struck and sweetwater flowed out...and "upon this rock..." as our Lord spoke. 

 

To better adapt to this experience,  three 6 foot

plastic coated steel benches will be placed throughout the walkabout. The $1800 benches are now available for purchase as a memorial for loved ones and/ or special events. The sturdy benches may be viewed here: treetopproducts.com/northgate

Great thanks goes to our helpers Ephraim and Zack for doing such tremendously hard work in keeping up with all that's at hand.