I want to share a story with LEAF blog readers. It’s the story of how two relaxed keeners planted a native butterfly garden, repurposed downtown grown trees (cleared for development) into seating and planted the next generation of canopy at our local library. It’s the story of seizing the potential of a lawn and creating a shady outdoor reading room.
Our Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens (UFDGs) offer an amazing opportunity to enhance our urban forest and beautify available green spaces across Toronto. They have created partnerships amongst organizations and fostered a sense of communal ownership around our natural areas. Our garden at Spadina Station – Walmer Exit has been a perfect example of seeing these opportunities in action.
As urban dwellers, we often take tree canopies for granted, or assume that the grey concrete we work in is just the way life is. The hidden treasure of this city is in the people who take initiatives to bring positive change.
Street trees are often neglected and I have long felt that communities should take some responsibility for their care. In my neighbourhood, on Bayview Avenue north of Davisville subway station, there is a four-block commercial strip that thrives – but unlike the businesses, the trees aren’t doing so well. The west side is lined with trees in concrete planters but the east is presently without any greenery due to sidewalk reconstruction. The difference between the two is stark and so I decided to attempt a tree care project.
In the spring of 2010, I was volunteering at a LEAF table when someone from the neighbourhood approached me. She had noticed that the newly planted trees along St. Clair Avenue West were dying. Riding past that night, I saw examples of trees that had died brutal deaths: their trunks had imploded in the cold weather. I went home and wept.