To wind things down, we hosted fall work sessions at each of the gardens. These sessions focused on composting, weeding, planting, and some minor pruning. While partaking in these work sessions, we didn’t focus only on the aesthetics, but also on ensuring habitat for our local biodiversity. For example, when cutting back perennials, we were sure to leave overwintering habitat for local wildlife.
At the Old Mill Garden, we planted a few young snowberry shrubs. Although there was construction at the Old Mill station for a large portion of the season, our garden stewards were determined to breathe new life into the site! We also added compost to this garden which, together with the falling leaves fall from the birches, silver maple, and honey locust, will create a robust and nutrient-rich layer of organic matter.
The Spadina Garden also received a fresh batch of compost. This garden is particularly susceptible to urban stressors because it’s in a high traffic area, for both vehicles and pedestrians. So, things like road salt deposition and garden trampling are common occurrences. However, the Spadina garden stewards see the upside of this challenge! When they are working away, they always have pedestrians stopping to ask them about the garden. It’s a great opportunity to teach the public about backyard biodiversity and show them that beautiful gardens can be created in even the most unlikely of places.
At our High Park Garden, neighbouring construction company EllisDon kindly offered their work site water source for volunteers to make use of throughout the gardening season. They even built a special access area through their fence for us! This made it easy for the High Park team to keep the garden hydrated throughout the summer heat.
The great thing about each of our six Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens is that whether through public interaction, volunteer teamwork or community involvement, they are a wonderful place for education, gathering, and collaboration!
Our gardens offer more than just the opportunity to collaborate and build community, though. They also showcase the beauty of native species, offer pollinator and wildlife habitat, and act as pockets of carbon sequestration throughout the city.
Whether it is as a volunteer or as a curious passerby, we encourage you to check out one or more of the Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens!
Natalie is a Volunteer & Stewardship Intern at LEAF.
LEAF’s Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens are supported by Ontario Power Generation and the Toronto Transit Commission.