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

Earth Day Clean Up along Roncy

Coinciding with nationally recognized Earth Day, on April 22, 2017, several members of RoncyWorks arrived to clean planter beds, sweep up litter and remove aging signage along the length of Roncesvalles Avenue. This effort was part of the annual RoncyWorks spring cleanup and the City’s Clean Toronto Together campaign.

Three members of RoncyWorks enjoying a sunny break on Roncesvalles Avenue during the spring cleanup.

Hilary, Veronica and Rahel are please to note a decrease in litter including cigrette butts in the gardens along Roncesvalles and grateful for the street culture changes that have led to this. PHOTO CREDIT: Claude Barnes

RoncyWorks volunteer holding broom and bag of cigarette litter.

RoncyWorks gardener, John Sledziewski picked a bagful of butts from the gardens and swept around the edges, for a finishing touch. PHOTO CREDIT: Claude Barnes

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

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.