My time as a steward

Outside of the Spadina subway station on Walmer Road there is a garden. When I talk about it with others, I refer to it as my own and I am proud to be its steward with my good friend, Asher Miller. When I first visited the plot, there was little more than rubble, garbage, a lonely tree and a lot of work to be done before we could begin planting.



Once the TTC told us where the pipes and gas lines were, John Wright created the blueprint as we cleaned up and prepared the space.  One of my other jobs was to canvas the area for possible sources of water for the garden. Thankfully an apartment in the neighbourhood agreed to share their spigot.  Finally it was ready to plant.


Spadina station


When spring rolled around, several LEAF volunteers and Tree Tenders came out to help Jessica Piskorowski unload the native species from the van and we each grabbed a shovel.  In no time we established a beautiful garden filled with lush native plants.  Public interest was immediate, and soon we had a small audience of commuters and other passers-by praising the initiative.  A reporter from Ming Pao even stopped by to snap a few photographs so we all smiled and posed with the reimagined and renaturalized space.


Spadina station planting


Asher and I have since taken turns visiting, watering, picking up garbage and pruning along with other fantastic LEAF volunteers, Dannette and Rocco. Six months in, we all have a newfound appreciation for the work that goes into caring for an urban space.  And as the garden gets ready for its winter sleep, we can hardly wait for the next season. It has been such a rewarding experience to be part of this remarkable transformation - my time spent caring for it has been both educational and inspirational.


Spadina subway station garden


I find myself teaching others about the importance of native species and even encouraging my family and friends to plant them.  Why? Because native North American plants have adapted over centuries to be the best they can be in this region: they can weather the climate and provide food and shelter for native wildlife.  On top of that, when we plant a wide array of local species we are increasing biodiversity in our neighbourhood.  Now I know how wildly beautiful our city can be. 


Urban forest demonstration garden