About veroncy

A resident of Roncesvalles Village in Toronto, I am also a volunteer member of RoncyWorks, working with others to make our neighbourhood an enjoyable place to walk, ride, shop, visit, hang out and give back to.

In Praise of RoncyWorks Gardeners

Following the reconstruction of Roncesvalles Avenue in 2011, some community volunteers spontaneously started weeding and picking up litter in the 21 plant beds along the street. More gardeners volunteered and by 2013, the RoncyWorks Green Team was formed in partnership with the Roncesvalles Village BIA. Over the years, their work has enjoyed much praise and recognition. 

Their labour of love has brought a lot of joy to the neighbourhood:  

  • Not only have the gardeners studied and selected suitable plants for the various conditions, they have weeded, tended, and nurtured the garden beds, they have improved the soil, picked up litter and sometimes supplemented the watering.
  • They have favoured predominantly Canadian native shrubs and flowering species, which attract butterflies, other pollinators, and birds.
  • One of the most rewarding activities for the street gardeners has been to chat with passers-by about plants, trees, and pollinator species. It’s been an opportunity for horticultural education, and urban habitat preservation. 
  • Also, the gardeners act as unofficial street ambassadors, giving directions or on-the-spot reviews for nearby attractions. They enjoy a cooperative partnership with the Roncesvalles Village BIA in welcoming people to the area.
  • They have enhanced our cultural identity as an eco-friendly community, and have extended the ecosystems of High Park into the urban neighbourhood. 

It’s been a delight to see an increase in pollinators in these gardens over the years. Watching a Monarch butterfly linger in a garden on the east side of Roncy, flutter across the street to settle in the garden on the west side, and seeing people photograph Black Swallowtail butterflies hovering amongst flowers on the street confirms its use as a corridor for pollinators travelling through the Village.

These gardens are cherished by many in the community for their diversity and eco-friendly approach that contrasts with the formal corporate gardening typical of many main streets that have planters. And, by many business members and directors of the RVBIA who showed appreciation to our street gardeners, which amplified the goodwill generated by beautiful street gardens.

Roncy’s unique gardens, including the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden that was constructed in 2016, and the community volunteers behind them all, have been formally recognized, receiving numerous awards listed below.

Volunteer Gardener and BIA Member stand behind the street garden they collaborated on.
Long-time volunteer gardener Ann Crichton-Harris and former Roncesvalles Village BIA Member Rahel Schneeberger-Brown collaborated on the garden south of Boustead Avenue over several years.

Most of the Green Team members have gardened on Roncesvalles for 7 to 10 years and five were part of the BIA’s original community consultation committee for the main street redesign. This shows how deeply embedded volunteering for our community has been on Roncy. 

RoncyWorks wants to express our deep gratitude to all these dedicated volunteers — most of whom continued to tend the gardens during the pandemic in 2020 — and to former Green Team members who put in a lot of time over the years, before they moved away. 

During the current lockdown, the gardens continue to flourish on their own. It’s a testament to the attention and care they’ve received over the years.

Garden Gallery 2020

Browse through our Garden Gallery.

LIST OF AWARDS:

2011 TABIA, to RVBIA for Streetscape Improvements (Roncesvalles Renewed)

2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Awards: 2012, to four members of the RVBIA Beautification Committee, RoncyWorks, and the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden for community service.

2013 TABIA, to RVBIA for innovative volunteer program RoncyWorks

2016 Ontario Horticultural Association, District 15 Youth Award Grant, to DRPG for tulip planting event

2017 Ontario Horticultural Association, William Baker Youth Award, to DRPG

2017 TABIA, to RVBIA and DRPG for the Peace Garden

2018 International Downtown Association, Award of Excellence, to RVBIA, City of Toronto, DRPG

2019 Community Leadership Award, Arif Virani MP: A. Bushby for DRPG

2019 Community Recognition Award, Bhutilla Karpoche MPP: Friends of DRPG

2019 TABIA, to RVBIA butterfly and pollinator gardening initiatives

2021 Parkdale-High Park Community Champion Award, MP Arif Virani: RoncyWorks Green Team Volunteers

Read more:

Greening of Roncy Part 1

Greening of Roncy Part 2

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden

No rip ups planned along Roncy

TTC work anticipated for 2016

access ramp from new street car

A step-free access ramp will be located at the second doorway of each new TTC streetcar. (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

To accommodate the accessible ramps for the new streetcars that will be traveling along the 504 route, some minor adjustments will need to be made to TTC designed bump outs along Roncesvalles.

Correction: Back when the TTC bump outs were being installed there were still some unknowns. In fact, the ramp design for the bump outs was not finalized until 2013. [The original plans of 2011 were modified and finalized in 2013, before TTC had settled on the purchasing of the expected, new streetcars.]

According to TTC Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brad Ross, “not the entire bump out will be adjusted, just a 4 square metre area of each bump out.  The work is slated for 2016 and will be done during non-peak times.”

There will be the odd lane restriction, but the road will not be closed, the track will not be ripped out along Roncy, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the road, bike lanes and sidewalks.

When asked, Councillor Gord Perks commented that it is his understanding “the TTC will concentrate their efforts on Spadina, Bathurst and Dundas accessibility issues first. “Roncevalles will only experience minimal disruption during non peak hours and work will be done quickly in days, not months.”

In terms of timing, the TTC is aiming to co-ordinate this work with the City of Toronto and coincide construction with the already scheduled intersection rebuild at Queen-King-Roncesvalles-Queensway.  Streetcars will be out of service as a result of the intersection work, but will be replaced by scheduled buses.

“Rest assured, the TTC is sensitive to further disruption to the community and will do all it can to mitigate disruption,” says Ross. “There will be lots of signage and advance notice to the community and businesses”.

RoncyWorks Garden Gallery 2014

A momentous year of urban gardening by our Green Team yielded plenty of delights on the street and lots of shots to share. In these photos taken among our 21 planting beds, you’ll see what evolved, and both treasures and trouble spots discovered since spring. Even this late in the season, the fall gardens are a reminder of what makes this neighbourhood awesome.

May Flowers and June Blooms

July’s Garden Glories

August’s Beauteous Bounty

Photos above by Heidi Eisenhauer

Roncesvalles in Bloom 2013 & 2014

Photos above by Jackie Taschereau

 

 

 

Greening of Roncy Part 2

What’s involved in urban street gardening along Roncy

Plant bed on Roncesvalles Avenue with water hydrant

Photo Credit: Heidi Eisenhauer

Designing and maintaining the plant beds along an urban main street, is not the same as gardening in your own yard, says RoncyWorks Green Team co-lead, Heidi Eisenhauer. “The street gardens face conditions and adversity that private gardens don’t have to.” For two years now, Heidi has been ordering the plants that are delivered to the High Park Library, which keeps them in safety until they can be picked up. The co-leads monitor the beds and coordinate the ongoing and one-off volunteer efforts. Although at the moment we average one volunteer per bed, it’s a lot of work for one person, so we’re always looking for other gardeners who are prepared to commit some time each week or a few hours per month to looking after a bed. For those who can’t commit to weekly or monthly tending, there are one-off tasks, around planting and mulching time that could use extra hands.

Planting starts in June, and continues through the summer. The trick is to get the plants in as soon as possible after they are delivered. Mulching takes place in July.

Watering is key after the plants go in. We have a water service that comes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, (but not on holiday Mondays). Luckily we have water hydrants, but they are not in each bed. The trick is to get the crew to use nozzles and not just pour water on the soil from open hoses.

Roncy garden @ 225 Roncesvalles in late June 2014

Photo Credit: Jackie Taschereau

“I find there are periods when I need to give my bed extra water, especially when I first plant something or when the weather is very hot without much rain, explains Carol Holland, a devoted volunteer who lives in Bloor West, but makes the trip to Roncy because she enjoys being part of this community effort.

Maintenance involves weeding and digging out shrubs, trimming, deadheading, replanting, and observing how all the plants are doing and affecting each other, and other problems that arise, like litter, theft, vandalism and damage from pedestrians and dogs. “It can be disheartening sometimes. We spend so much time and energy to beautify our street. But, all in all, these are just minor setbacks; if you consider the whole street, I think the beds look pretty good and there is not too much litter most of the time,” says one of our more recent volunteer, Catherine Gautry.

Welcoming other gardeners

We’re always on the lookout for local gardeners who would be willing to lend a hand, as it not only makes less work for everyone, but it’s wonderful to be part of this group effort. We get a lot of praise and encouragement from passersby and from each other. If you would like to join in, please contact greenteam@roncyworks.org.

Read how the Green Team got started and our approach.