Site No.: 007 Type: Residential Garden Size: 4500sqft Goal: Native Plant Site Status: N3
Zone: Carolinian Canada
City/County: Toronto State/Province/District: Ontario Country: Canada
Assistance Request: The owner is fighting lawsuit with Toronto concerning the illegal cutting of this garden, including the killing of several endangered species. Financial donations or legal assistance gratefully accepted.
- Late Spring Summer October 24, 2012
This garden began as a weedy patch of lawn which, beginning in 1995, was transformed gradually into a front yard meadow. The rear of the house was already heavily treed and is being transformed into a more natural woodland setting. In 1996, a rain garden was added to capture precipitation from the rooftop and to provide a spot for moisture-loving species in an otherwise dry, generally sandy yard.
By 2007, there were over 200 species of native plants, many from locally collected seed or plants salvaged from development sites, along with a scattering of non-native species. That summer, the longest drought in over 50 years placed the garden under heavy stress. City of Toronto forces stepped in 3 days before the rain finally returned, and without prior notice cut the meadow to the ground, including endangered species, shrubs and young trees. A great many plants were not able to recover from the trampling and sudden exposure. Five years on, it is still in recovery having lost much biodiversity and losing ground to aggressive and mower-introduced invasives. My yards have once again been cited (October 26, 2012) under Toronto’s “long grass and weeds” bylaw 489 and when that proved false, the boulevard portion was charged under bylaw 743 on December 19, 2012 with the non-existent crime of not being lawn.
Is my garden perfect? Of course not…no garden is, even if it hasn’t been brutalized. Do I love it still? Of course. Is it illegal? No!
Top 10 Species: (links to USDA plants database)
Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa
Pussytoes Antennaria howellii (one of at least 3 different species in the garden)
Canada Goldenrod Solidago altissima
Blue-stemmed Goldenrod Solidage caesia
Big Bluestem Andropogon gerardii
Sweetgrass Hierochloe odorata
Prairie Dock Silphium terebinthinaceum
New Jersey Tea Ceanothus americanus
Smooth Rose Rosa blanda
Fragrant Sumac Rhus aromatica
It’s been a very long winter, most of it spent fighting Toronto Transporation and bylaw enforcement staff who argued that the few stems and seed heads remaining on boulevard in front of my house, purposely left to feed and shelter overwintering wildlife,
were a sight line hazard. On March 28, 2013, those arguments were rendered moot when Toronto used its Forestry service staff to sweep away those stems in the guise of removing the dying Ash tree on the boulevard (Emerald Ash borer has infested my neighbourhood for several years)…at least they can’t invoice me for this service.
Signs of spring are finally starting to emerge, sprigs of wild strawberry, swelling leaf buds, and unfortunately, greening turf grass. Its still a bit early to begin taking down hollow plant stems from last years garden. When I do, I’ll incorporate some of the hollow stems into bee-bundles to act as nesting sites for a variety of native bees.