Friday, May 18, 2018

Perennial Planting at Kathy's Grove

Planting starts at 10am tomorrow, Saturday May 19, at Kathy's Grove. Yes, it will be cloudy and may be drizzling. Just sing along:
I'm plantin' in the rain
Just plantin' in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I'm happy again

Canada Columbine
Here are just two of the native North American perennials we'll be planting.

Monday, May 7, 2018

the Serviceberries are blooming in Kathy's Grove!

"Apple" Serviceberry - Amelanchier x grandiflora
We planted on a beautiful May 5. Most of the trees we dug in were still dormant but the three Serviceberries were already in bud. Sunday it rained, which was great for the new tress and shrubs, but today, Monday, has been cool and brilliantly sunny. I went down to Stanley Park and sure enough the Serviceberries had popped into bloom.

Parks staff watering in a shrub
One of the great things about arriving at the park was to find Harry Roach and his crew from City of Toronto Parks watering the trees and shrubs. Kathy's Grove is far from any taps, so they had rigged up  giant plastic barrel in a truck and were watering in the plants. Many thanks, Harry and crew!

Harry in the garden, next to a Sweet Gum and Summersweet

Harry was great on Saturday. He and the park supervisor, the great Brian Green, had brought a sod stripper. This machine looked like a shrunken locomotive hooked up to an oversized lawnmower engine. Brian got it going and Harry guided it over the large crescent-shaped patch on the hillside where the perennial pollinator garden will be planted.

The sod stripper is an amazing device! It passes a cutter blade about 2cm (an inch) under the grass, leaving you with a strip of sod which is easy to lift up and move afterwards.

Supervisor Brian Green and the partly stripped garden

Brian and his team will be bringing in coarse sand as a mulch/surface for the perennial bed. In my experience, sand makes an excellent mulch, and in a sunny, sloped spot like we have it reduces weed seed sprouting.

Another possible benefit we'll have to wait to see is that ground-nesting native bees love a sandy, sunny slope. I've seen hundreds of their nest tunnels in the sandy hillside of High Park above Grenadier Pond. I'm sure they will eventually find their way to this idyllic nesting spot - sand surface, soft soil underneath, and lots of flowers through the seasons.

three Hort volunteers
digging up a dead tree

planted Saturday, blooming Monday

This picture from Saturday shows some of our energetic volunteer crew digging out a tree that had been planted last year, but died. After amending the soil, in went a serviceberry, and here it is:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Kathy's Grove: a Pollinator Garden from the ground to the treetops

Through the kindness of friends of the late Kathy Andrachuk, of the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto (of which she was a past President), of Landscape Ontario's Toronto Chapter, and especially of the Parks Department of the City of Toronto (shout out to Brian Green!), we will be remembering Kathy with a Pollinator Grove.

What that means is that we are taking an area at the northwest end of Stanley Park, not far from where Kathy lived, and replanting it. Right now, the park has lots of Ash and Austrian Pine trees that are sick, and will be lost over the next few years. 

We will be planting 11 native flowering trees, many of which also provide food for pollinator caterpillars. Under them, we'll be planting 11 native flowering shrubs, some of which are also caterpillar food or provide berries for birds. Finally, under these we'll be planting a lot of native flowering perennials with soil amendments to favour nesting by native bees.

We are gathering on several occasions to do this. 
  • On Saturday May 5, the Parks people will be helping us get the trees planted, and we'll plant the shrubs. 
  • On Saturday May 19, we volunteers will be planting the perennials.
  • on a day TBD in August, we'll have a dedication and celebration event at the garden
  • on a day TBD in September, 1st and 2nd grade students from nearby Niagara Elementary school will come to plant a few things, look at some pollinators, and learn about the garden.
Almost all of the work is being done by volunteers. We are happy to see you at the park! We'd especially like to welcome some of you to the garden:
  • First Nations people. We're planting only native plants, and we will be putting a Smudging Herbs and other medicinal plants section in the garden, but we need your wisdom and help to guide us.
  • People who live, work, or play in the park. We hope you'll help us with ideas that make it more fun for you, and especially your children and grandchildren. The trees we're planting are for the next 100-200 years! We want neighbours to love them and take care of them.
Contact me at with any questions. Hope to see you at the park!

Tulip tree, food plant for Tiger Swallowtail butterflies

Spicebush flowers

Spicebush swallowtail - by Greg Hume, CC BY-SA 3.0