Urban Gardening: Growing plants together

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As above ~ So below.   Strawberries planted under an Elderberry bush in a wood chip mulched bed

All along Roncesvalles Avenue, the garden beds are cleverly integrated with decorative, stylized and sometimes edible flora. There”s no judgement passed.  It’s just one happy display of plants in all different colours, ethnicity, genders, reproductive variations and levels of intelligence.

Unless, of course, a plant’s natural tendency is to invade and harm. You’ll not find faithful RoncyWorks members doting upon such outcasts.

Growing various botanical species together is not new, it’s the basis of permaculture and urban gardening and it was created because space is limited. Companion planting is beneficial because flowers attract pollinators that help food-producing vegetables, fruits and berries to flourish past the flowering stage. 

The Victorians called it cottage gardening, in fact the little white picket fence was actually created to not only fence in cottage gardens from little creatures, but also to serve as a trellis support for vining vegetables like; cucumber, squash, watermelon, beans and peas.

If you don’t have ground space, use containers. Creative metal art, twigs or bamboo poles can serve as a climbing medium for vertical gardening.

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Intending to grow up

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Container Gardening

Herbs are delightful multi use additions to a garden.  They look great, add variety and survive snips and clips as they’re offered up in culinary dishes. Besides, growing your own food is an organic, zero carbon footprint action that is an affordable solution for families. 

Growing things together is an example of the “great big one” that we have all become.

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Rhubarb is delightfully architectural

Chives

Allowing some chives to flower

Dundas West | Roncesvalles Peace Garden

Roncy’s Northern Gateway

Peace Garden (noun)
A public botanical garden created to commemorate the end of conflict, OR a public space dedicated to pay homage towards the commitment of peace, or rather, freedom from the disturbance, thereby promoting quiet and tranquility. A welcoming retreat.drpg-view-01-8

The DRPG was conceived to honour the 1812 Battle of York, when Canadians of both Immigrant and Aboriginal status, fought side by side to fend off American invaders.

Because the intersection of Dundas West was once part of an indigenous trail that is, today celebrated as part of a Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail Network (combining Canadian History with promotion of Toronto’s First Nation’s heritage) – Founding Project Managers had set out to create a venture that could include many community groups as well as, benefit the area, aesthetically by serving as a Welcoming Northern Gateway to the Roncesvalles Village.

With the support of City Councillor Gord Perks, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations, the RVBIA, Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto, RMRA, Sunnyside Historical Society, Toronto Public Space Initiative, Romero House, Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Secondary School, and RoncyWorks, the ambitious undertaking is now a beautiful representation of many groups working together, peacefully – I might add.

Designed by Mary Tremain of PLANT Architect inc, the Peace Garden will now provide a space for enjoyment, contemplation, and community gathering, it also celebrates 200 years of friendship and peace for the City of Toronto and in particular, to the residents of the Roncesvalles area.

Seating areas consist of curved wooden benches that are thoughtfully integrated within the tapered concrete planter walls that surround and protect the garden beds.

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construction of the curved benches

Plants and trees reflect a range of contemporary and heritage varieties local to the High Park area. Decorative, engraved granite paving tiles set among passive solar blocks, comprise the walkways, known as the Peace Path. Lighting has been incorporated to improve visibility and highlight the circular interior space.

An interpretive sign provided by DRPG community partners; the Roncesvalles Village BIA, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, will be installed at the southwest corner. This sign will be unveiled on Saturday June 11th at the garden’s opening ceremonies.

GRAND OPENING: SATURDAY JUNE 11th, 2016 – JOIN US!
During Roncy Rocks
11 am Opening Ceremony: Intersection: Dundas Street West at Roncesvalles Avenue

12:00 – 5:00 at the Indigenous Music Stage: Ritchie Avenue at Roncesvalles Ave

WHAT TO EXPECT: At the Opening Ceremony:

  • The Ceremony will be co-officiated with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden, to formally open the Peace Garden.
  • An Indigenous Elder gives a blessing.
  • Mary Tremain, of PLANT Architect, will be thanked for her beautiful landscape design. The City of Toronto will be thanked for capital funding and management of construction.
  • A heritage plaque revealing the indigenous origin of this portion of Dundas Street, and its rise to prominence during the War of 1812 will be unveiled by its co-sponsors, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Roncesvalles Village BIA.
  • The first community arts project between a First Nation and a Toronto community group will be unveiled — the “Peace Path” of engraved pavers winding through the Garden will be unveiled.
  • The city’s first indigenous artwork painted onto a street infrastructure box will be presented to the public by the artist.  An image from an 1812 Fort York artefact, for Luminato’s “Trove” exhibit, installed on an outside wall at the site will be revealed.
  • The Garden will be designated for the Moccasin Identifier project to mark its historical significance. At the Indigenous Music Stage:
  • 12 noon: Georgina Toulouse of Sagamok First Nation sings a welcoming song in Ojibway language. Chief Stacy LaForme of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, who is himself a poet, welcomes everyone and opens the first stage of indigenous music to be performed on local streets, roads or trails in over 200 years
  • 12:30 PM Métis Fiddler Quartet: siblings Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas and Danton on viola, guitar, violin and song merge classical strings and spirited Métis music.
  • 1:45 PM Marc Meriläinen (Nadjiwan): The untamed beauty of Marc’s northern Manitoba home infuses smoking hot rock, with the heartbeat of a community
  • 2:30 PM Métis music workshop
  • 3:00 PM Manitou Mkwa: Inspirational singers and hand drumming family group from the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Raised in the tradition of performing at Pow Wows, the group is devoted to raising awareness and support for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and their families.
  • 4:00 PM Cheri Maracle: hypnotic vocals with contemporary four-piece jazz ensemble pulses with Cheri’s Mohawk heritage style.
  • 5:00 PM Donna’s Boy: Glenn Gould expresses his Mi’kmaq roots with a deep, full voice and six piece Blues/Rock band of horns, harmonica, guitar, fiddle. They’ll pump up the tempo. Spark

Learn about Japanese Knotweed

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Japanese Knotweed growing through foundation

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive, destructive plant that is banned in Britain.  It’s presence through out England, decreases property values and it has now become illegal to deal with its removal on your own, government intervention is actually required.

CBC’s the Current  & MACLEAN’S magazine have both reported about epic outbreaks in British Columbia. Ontario’s Invading Species organization actually has a hotline to report outbreaks of this tenacious plant that is damaging massive treks of rural areas as it upsets the eco system by overgrowth.  It isn’t a native plant. 

The City of Toronto lists and provides information for residents to identify and eradicate Japanese Knotweed because the plant is capable of growing through building foundations and breaking through concrete and asphalt. Having it near your home can actually affect the resale of your house. 

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Coming up tenaciously

RoncyWorks members wish to help inform residents of the Roncesvalles area because it has been spotted throughout the region. Most seasoned gardeners know about it, but every once and awhile a novice gardener will come across it and be charmed by it’s attractiveness. Many people think it is a bamboo of some kind.

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Novice gardener plants unknowingly

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Sprays of flowers in late summer

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Easily confused with Bamboo

The best way to get rid of it – is surface removal and destruction from leaf down or the use of herbicides. Digging up the ground and breaking the root system, actually encourages it to regrow into multiple plants.

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Plants may need to be eradicated with herbicides

Earth Day: trees & clean ups

To recognize Earth Day, communities and individuals typically plant trees and organize cleanups. We are delighted to have the corporate office for Earth Day Canada located right here in Roncesvalles Village.

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Plant a tree for Earth Day

Earth Day Canada is committed to planting 25,000 legacy trees for Earth Day’s 25th Anniversary and they are doing so by a funded, crowd-planting campaign called #Rooting4Trees. Sponsorship is available in monetary increments from $10 – $10,000. Contribute or support them, if you can.

The City of Toronto promotes its annual 20 Minute Make Over  for businesses, schools and individuals who may wish to participate, by doing clean up efforts along streetscapes and parklands. The efforts will keep our City clean and green. Participate if you can, sometime over the weekend of April 22 – April 24th.

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City of Toronto clean ups & Tree Planting

However, if you have the space and would like to contribute to the future of our community, consider planting a tree in your own yard. Let’s plant Trees now, because it takes at least a decade for them to reach maturity. Trees are excellent carbon gas absorbers, passive solar heating regulators and have been proven to make people feel happier, just by living near them.

Trees produce an oil called phytoncide, which is an antimicrobial compound known to ward off infections like antibiotics do. The chemical, transferred by scent is inhaled into our bodies. The physical act of hiking in a forest, exercises your body, which in turn, encourages your brain to release endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling that is similar to morphine.

Hundreds of senior scientists and clinicians from universities, hospitals and research institutes across Ontario Canada, collaborated in the development of a study that would query people about their lifestyles. It was hoped that data could be collected that would reveal risk factors of chronic disease. The group specifically wanted to investigate issues surrounding ailments like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimers. Almost unexpectedly, responses showed that people who lived in or near areas of mature tree forests, tended to have quicker rates of post illness recovery and less evidence of the more severe, chronic illnesses.

People who live along tree lined streets, live happier and healthier lives and the planting of them, is a spectacular way to celebrate Earth Day!

Consider planting a tree for Earth Day; its our environment… let’s live in it wisely.

WWF’s 10 Year Earth Hour Milestone on Roncy

Earth Hour flyer shows time and location of start and finish on Roncesvalles.

Save the Date

Ten years ago, WWF initiated Earth Hour. It’s a symbolic time held worldwide to  encourage the global community to share the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world. For one hour on one evening  in the month of March, we are all to turn off our lights and reduce our power draw, opting for candlelight instead.

In December of 2015, Paris hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP 21 in which, 196 representing countries or territorial parties agreed on a global commitment to reducing the effects of climate change. This agreement is intended to become law.

This past January, City Councillors Gord Perks & Sarah Doucette (representing Parkdale – High Park) held a “think tank” to get residents to weigh in on how they thought, we could work towards combating climate change. It was a packed house. I was there.

Supporting Earth Hour is one of my passions. In 2013 WWF Canada identified me as an Earth Hour Team Captain and I’ve been running with that moniker ever since. My name is Karyn Klaire Koski and my family has lived in Roncesvalles Village for 22 years.

Since 2010, I with other RoncyWorks members – and with the support of the BIA, have encouraged groups of Earth Hour Supporters to walk along Roncesvalles Avenue, in solidarity to represent our community’s voice. There are no protests. It’s just an ever increasing number of friends, families and neighbours, who walk together from the top to the bottom of “Roncy” holding lanterns or candles in jars, in the spirit of the occasion. Along the kilometre and a half stretch we pass candlelit restaurants, bistros and bars who signal their participation by turning off or dimming their lights.

Every year we try to do something a little different in the way of acoustic music, singing, art installations or give aways; and we invite the group to simply enjoy the experience. Many folks continue the celebration afterwards in one of the many participating “powered-down” businesses.

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As more and more people recognize ways to combat climate change, the easier it will be to educate, guide and combine our efforts effectively, when Nationwide guidelines will be put in place. Please join us.

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Saturday March 19th (8:15 pm – 9:30 pm)
* Gather at 8:15 pm at the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
(near Starbucks at 2201 Dundas West at Roncesvalles), where hot beverages will be offered.

* Walk starts promptly at 8:30 p.m.

* Participants walk along the commercial side of Roncesvalles, 1.8 km.

* Walk concludes at the Roncesvalles Footbridge, near Beaty Boulevard Parkette
(King/Queen/Queensway intersection)

* All disperse by the end of the Globally recognized Hour. Walk takes about 30 min.

Cancelled in the event of heavy rain
Roncy Earth Hour Walk website

Facebook Event