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News 2010

News 2010

From the September 2010 Newsletter:


From Rachel Weston, garden program support staff: “It’s the season for harvesting and enjoying the fruits of our labours (and the roots and flowers and leaves too). So it’s time for a little garden-inspired fiesta on Sunday September 19 - with some tasty treats and some herbal teas made with ingredients that we will glean from the gardens around the park. The festivities will commence at 3 pm but interested gardeners can come beforehand to get their hands a bit dirty if they'd like. New garden helpers are always welcome - Sundays 1-3 pm.

A special thank you to Katheryne Schulz and Janet Teibo who donated some porcupine and fountain grasses to us which we have planted in the beds in front of the rink house. Thanks also to the volunteers who helped out with the transplanting and dividing - it was a big project but well worth it.”

Fall 2010 to-do list.

Click on map to enlarge it.

From the July - August 2010 Newsletter:


The big sugar maple beside the bake oven is half dead, and the park’s other sugar maples are fading fast as well. All over the city, sugar maples are in trouble. One theory is that they don’t like the warmer weather. At Dufferin Grove’s bake oven, and by the various footpaths, the soil compaction that comes with so many feet makes it worse.

But it’s not only sugar maples that are leaving the park. In every wind storm, a few giant branches from Norway maples and silver maples break off. Sometimes a whole tree comes down with a heavy crash. Is the park’s forest in trouble?

Maybe not. Here’s a bit of park tree history: Dufferin Grove Park is named for its trees. Photos taken a hundred years ago show lots of white pines and giant elms, as well as sugar maples and some flowering trees. In the 1930’s, the park became known all over the city for its horticulture – for its trees and shrubs as well as its beautiful flowerbeds. In the 1950s, many Norway maples were planted, although around the same time, most of the trees in the northeast quadrant of the park were cut down to make room for a sports field. (Before that, the central grassed area of the Dufferin Race Track across the street was often used as a sports field when the horses weren’t running. But in 1957 the race track was sold to make a mall. That sports field gave way to shopping.)

So the sports field was established in the park instead. The Norway maples in the rest of the park grew fast. The elms began to die off, though, because of Dutch elm disease, and the white pines gave way to silver maples, linden trees and ash. The flowerbeds were gradually eliminated (the last city flowerbed was removed in 1992, to save on gardening costs). In the late 1990s, half a dozen oaks and three white pines were planted south of the field house and north of the rink. Meantime, various park friends, after consultation with the City’s horticulture staff, began planting small beds of native species that included trees as well as shrubs.

There was no more tree planting by the City until 2007. That year, a City contractor was hired to plant 42 new trees all over the park, mostly various kinds of oaks, maples, and Kentucky coffee trees. But that was also the year of the drought and – therefore – it was the summer of hoses and mulch piles everywhere, as the park’s recreation staff worked with volunteers to keep the new trees alive despite six weeks without a drop of rain. Almost all those trees made it, and are thriving now.

In 2008, a City contractor planted two “little forests” of native species trees and shrubs near Dufferin Street. These plantings were part of City Council‘s big program of doubling Toronto’s tree canopy. Many people wondered why the plantings were so dense, all jammed together. This year, when city forestry developer Uyen Dias came to have a follow-up look at the two “little forests,” she said she was astonished at how well they had grown. The reason the plantings were so dense, she said, is that there was an assumption that many of them would not survive the first year.

But the land near Dufferin Street lies in the former Garrison Creek hollow. It’s fertile and moist. All the trees in the little forest flourished and most have tripled in size in two years. Meantime, the Norway maples around the wading pool and the sandpit seem to have made use of all the extra water coming their way, and with their enormous branches they are giving wonderful shade despite hitting 50.

So the trees being lost to old age or climate change are being replaced by thriving young trees, and it looks like the park can retain its name. However, the bake oven area will soon be without shade. It may be time to talk about Gene Threndyle’s suggestion: to make an area of flagstones and a simple shade arbour there, maybe with a low wall, to define the outlines of a park oven café. Food for thought.

From the June 2010 Newsletter:


From garden-club coordinator Rachel Weston: “We had the opportunity to partner up with Clement Kent and his Pollinator Gardens Project (check out his blog: who donated some plants to start one up and helped us plant as well.  We have an awful lot of fabulous native species growing at the park already, but these new arrivals are exciting because they are especially attractive to birds, butterflies (and butterfly larva), bees and other insects that we need to keep the whole pollination scene abuzz (so to speak).”  

The park’s “garden club” is open to everyone. They meet on Wednesdays and Sundays, and work in the park gardens together. To find out more, e-mail

Down Trees May 2010

80 Km winds

Silver maple, rotten in the middle

Norway maple, no sign of rot, near wading pool

A forestry crew came and sawed up all the wood; they took most of it away but brought some up to the woodshed for storage until it's dry enough to burn in the bake ovens.

From the April 2010 Newsletter:


As usual, everyone is invited to learn and share gardening skills during the drop-in gardening times, held between once and twice a week from spring to fall. This year, program staff Rachel Weston will work with volunteers to add some new native plants, and Leslie Lindsay and Heidrun Koepff will join Anna Bekerman in coordinating the vegetable gardens. To get weekly messages about gardening times, send an email to or call the park at 416-392-0913.

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