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

Roncy’s Pee Rocks

Although the boulder-in-river-stone design element featured in several Roncesvalles Avenue street gardens may look like Xeriscape or Zen design, they are actually strategic coping solutions for dog urine.  Roncy has Pee Rocks.

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Roncy’s dog pee rocks are saving roses

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Zen Design & Dog Pee Solution

As dogs walk (hopefully on leash) with their owners, they constantly source out other dogs’ territorial markings and plan on masking those scents with their own. It’s what they do.

With an accumulation of doggy leaks, clever RoncyWorks volunteered gardeners, came up with an attractive solution that would help safeguard the shrubs and perennials. Now dogs gravitate to the Pee Rocks.

I like it so much, I’m going to apply the design on flanking sides of my own front walkway.

Now, if only we could stop dogs and people from trampling the plants, that would be awesome. The most harm happens when dogs are tethered to the trees in some of the gardens. A stop to that could save a lot plants, volunteer effort and money spent replacing plants.

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.