Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gravel Garden - Danforth (Toronto)

Ecoman shared this link with me - great project in Toronto (this was a small project done after an extensive 6000 square foot rooftop garden had been created. Cool that once the first project was done - they started looking for other areas that could be improved!)

From Ecoman's website:


In an effort to transform Gravel Garden into something a bit more visually and ecologically pleasing, Green Access staff teamed up with Ecoman to take on a mini naturalization project that included edibles, native plants, and even some medicinal species!
Over the summer, purple flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus) thrived and red currant bushes bore a tasty first harvest. Solomon’s Seal, Hepatica and Comfrey started to get established in the shady areas. We experimented with growing hardy Kiwi (Actinidia kolomitka) and a specially bred variety of honeysuckle with edible berries (Lonicera caerulea). Bugbane (Cimicifuga) and Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) were also nice additions.
Two small transplanted honey locust trees (Gleditsia triocanthos) and one lilac suffered a bit in the hot and dry parts of summer but they ultimately became well-established. Finally, later in the season a couple of America Elder (Sambucus nigra) trees were added. 

Love that they rescued some trees from a Canada Blooms installation (saving costs!) for the Gravel Garden. And do hope that they post some after shots - would be great to see what it looks like now.
Thanks Ecoman (Jonas Spring) for sharing the info!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

summer pond

Missing summer?  Check out this video by Catherine Forster entitled pond!  (It reminds me of Fletcher Wildlife Garden's pond)

POND from catherine forster on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Deep Root - Silva Cell Bloor Street (Toronto)

Here's an urban sidewalk design that increase(s) the street trees and the amount of soil they receive using "Silva Cells".

"The soil within the Silva Cells is lightly compacted, meaning that it retains pockets of air and water that are essential to healthy root growth and has adequate amounts of room for roots to spread. The new street design also included wider sidewalks, granite instead of concrete pathway paving, and seasonal flower beds.

Slot drains capture rainwater that falls on the sidewalk and directs it in to small catch basins that remote floatables and large debris. The water then enters a perforated pipe that extends throughout the Silva Cell system, irrigating the soil volume underneath the sidewalks."

Read the full article and see some great photos of Silva Cells and the redevelopment of Bloor Street in Toronto at Deep Root Blog

Would it also be possible to plant more native trees as per Diana Beresford-Kroeger as street trees?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

backyard birds (Toronto)

"On a cool and foggy morning, after a night of rain, the birds are staying put and feeding. It makes for fine listening, not only to the avian newcomers but also to the familiar urban birds — cardinals, chickadees, red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches and house finches."
From Toronto Star Article: Songbird ‘superhighway’ runs through Toronto as 50 million will fly over in spring migration  By: Leslie Scrivener, May 2012

Image from Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing

Friday, April 11, 2014

native flowers for your garden...

Plant these now for year-round benefits for wildlife - from NWF:

Coneflowers: Nine native coneflower species grow from across the eastern and central Lower 48 to the Rocky Mountain states. The plants produce large flowers with sturdy orange-bronze “cones” at the center. During the cold months, goldfinches perch on or just below the blackened winter cones to pluck out the seeds.

Sennas: In many areas of the country, two native species—American senna and Maryland senna—bear a profusion of flowers in mid- to late-summer, followed by long, drooping seedpods. They provide shelter as well as chocolate-colored seeds that offer nutritious winter meals for songbirds and wild turkeys and other game birds. When in flower, sennas are magnets for certain native bees and butterflies. They also serve as host plants for cloudless sulfur butterfly caterpillars.

Round-head bush clover: Native to areas in the eastern two-thirds of the country, this plant is not particularly showy but it is robust and beneficial for wildlife. Its bronze seed heads decorate the winter garden and provide food for songbirds and game birds. Neil Diboll, president of Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin, calls round-head bush clover “an excellent late-season ‘emergency food’ for birds.” The plant grows 3 to 6 feet tall, he points out, “so the seeds are elevated above even deep snow cover that obscures lower-growing plants and their fruits.”

Other good winter seed sources: Depending on where you live, these may include asters, black-eyed Susans and late-blooming native sunflowers. Unless you have room in your garden for them to spread, avoid sunflower species that increase rapidly by rhizomes or that are prolific self-sowers.

• Flat-topped white aster (Umbellate aster): "Easy to grow, looks great in a garden (toward the back as it's 4 feet tall), spreads nice and slowly, and doesn't make a mess. And great for butterfly gardens - butterflies like plants with flat clusters of flowers and asters are the host plant for painted lady butterflies." Sandy Garland - Fletcher Wildlife Garden Ottawa

Monday, April 7, 2014

start planning your backyard for spring!

From World of Birds, Ottawa Citizen written by Elizabeth Le Geyt (2007):

"Birds like moderately untidy gardens with tangly corners, secure sites for well-hidden nests. Cedars and other conifers provide hiding places and shelter. Many species of dogwood have berries for fruit-eating birds like robins and waxwings. Honeysuckle fruits early in the summer and many species of crab-apple trees hold their apples throughout the winter.

It will soon be time to select perennial flowering plants, berry-bearing shrubs and annual flowers attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Red flowers, like monarda (bee balm), phlox, fuchsia and heuchera (coral bells), are perennials beloved by hummingbirds. Annuals like salvia, petunias, geraniums and other colourful flowers will attract both hummingbirds and hummingbird hawk moths.

Water, a necessity for all living creatures, should be provided. If you have room, a pond is ideal.

Smaller lots can have a bird bath or even large clay saucers. Ponds can be a haven for frogs and dragonflies that are disappearing at an alarming rate due to the pollution of natural water areas. If you stock your pond with fish, you may even attract a great blue heron, or a kingfisher! Bird houses for cavity nesting birds and a bird feeder complete a wildlife friendly, chemical-free habitat."

Also keep in mind that there may be bee-killing pesticides on those annuals you buy!

Image from "Gardening Gone Wild" blog