Category Archives: Ontario


The boulevard portion of this site has already been mowed to the ground twice since June 2013 under a new, unconstitutional, bylaw enacted in April 2013.  Cobourg citizens are staging ongoing delegations to Council concerning their right to grow in protest of this bylaw, but support is not unanimous.

Send a message to Cobourg Council and attend a Monday evening session (starting at 4 pm) or write to Mayor Gil Brocanier , CC Town Clerk Lorraine Brace and the remainder of Council:,,,,,

Site No.: 64  Type:  Residential Garden  Size:  6925 sqft  Goal:  A learning/teaching garden, to demonstrate how to grow sustainably and optimize opportunities within existing conditions and boundaries.  Status: E2
Carolinian Canada
Cobourg    State/Province/District:  Ontario     Country:  Canada

A residential lot in the old part of Town (Cobourg), a heritage district, which features a maturing woodlot with native and naturalized plant species living in concert. The site is a garden of gifts and of memories, including plants from friends and family members including grandfather’s culitvated grapes that now prefer the sunnier exposure along the public sidewalk: treats for the birds and passers-by. There is a companion meadow for butterflies on the abutting street boulevard. The gardens have been evolving for more than 20 years now.

This site is a platform for continual dialogue between nature, the plants and creatures, and the humans who live and visit here. Things change, living things adapt. Many plants have been planted, and some have not made it. Some have found their way here and stayed because the site conditions, sometimes created by engineering man, suited them. Occasionally a plant has not been permitted to stay because of its ecologically disruptive habit. The gardens are meant to be shared as they are on display as a lesson in diversity. There is no back yard, this site is a side yard and street boulevard, all in full public view. This has caused concern for some people who prefer conformity,and to many others it brings much joy. These gardens offer protection, shelter, nourishment and refuge…and for the human,also an opportunity for reflection. The gardener does not weed these gardens, they edit. The art of nature abounds here for those who are willing to see.

Top Plants:
native trees including young sugar maple, burr oak, red oak,cucumber magnolia, alternate leaf dogwood, and the ever present saplings of black walnut from the trees next door – they go to a plant sale! naturalized exotics including saucer and elizabeth magnolias, korean white forsythia, fringetree; my grandfather’s grape vines wandering about; naturalized lilac, summer phlox; masses of early spring flowering bulbs; various dry soil meadow plants on boulevard




This site is being harassed by neighbours and bylaw officers.  Contact us to offer moral support and advice to the owner.  Let him know he is not alone. “It is difficult to stay strong and continue the course of ‘being different’ when I am harassed by neighbours and by-law officials.”

Site No.: 62  Type:  Residential Garden  Size:  1500sqft  Goal:  To bring a more natural style to an area of cookie cutter yards  Status: T2
Carolinian Canada
Rockwood    State/Province/District:  Ontario     Country:  Canada

I would like the public to understand that we are not ‘lazy’ homeowners just because we are not growing a conventional yard. I would like to show people that there are other options to sterile, grass-filled yards that require massive amounts of fuel, fertilizers and water. I would like to show people how quickly nature can return to a yard and how beautiful that yard can be.

Favourite things/unusual features:
Seeing not only the common European honey bee foraging in my yard, but as well the many natural bees and pollinators. I also enjoying finding frogs buried in the clover yard and birds searching for insects.

Top 10 Plants:
Dutch White Clover Echinacea Sedum Monarda Sage Speedwell (Veronica) Viper’s Bugloss Anise Hyssop Mint Joe Pye Weed

White Clover Lawn

White Clover Lawn


Site No.: 54  Type:  Residential Garden  Size:  1000sqft  Goal:  Native Plant Site/ pollinator friendly  Status: T1
Zone:  Carolinian Canada
City/County:  Guelph    State/Province/District:  Ontario     Country:  Canada

Urban garden with very limited lawn. We have wood chips and plantings in the front, small lawn area that is treated organically in the back with no Kentucky Blue Grass! Increasing number of native species in the back where there is a predominance of dry shade. The front area has a lot of periwinkle at present. But there is also beautiful serviceberry trees, yews, and shade plants. We use only compost and water from our rain barrels…as much as possible.

Lawn is not required in a garden. Gardens can be low maintenance and low water requirements. Gardens can help sustain our environment not damage it. Native species are important but can be incorporated with our non invasive attractive plants.

Top 10 Species: (links to USDA plants database)
violets, rudebeckia, coneflowers, asters, serviceberry, yew, sugar maple, hosta, anemone, sedum


Site No.: 53  Type:  Residential Garden  Size:  1000sqft  Goal:  Native Plant Site /pollinator garden  Status: T1
Zone:  Carolinian Canada
City/County:  Flesherton    State/Province/District:  Ontario     Country:  Canada

low maintenance, reduction in lawn.

Top 10 Species:
sugar maple Acer saccharum,
yews, hostas, violets, rudebeckias, coneflowers, asters



Awaiting more details about this native plant garden in Guelph, Ontario.

@40x100ft implemented in 1996 to attenuate storm water flow, beautify & provide habitat.

This garden has been complimented by neighbours, friends, and family.


Site No.:  103  Type:  Residential Garden   Size:  8000sqft  Goal:  Native Plant site  Status: N3  Zone: Carolinian Canada  City/county:  Toronto  State/Province/District:  Ontario  Country:  Canada


This garden was begun by my grandfather.  Once upon a time it was the site of a productive wetland nestled between forest and farm.  With “development” came devastation…rows of lawns and strawberry-box houses.  When our family first arrived, there were garter snakes, foxes, pheasants, hummingbirds, chipmunks.  As the surrounding land “developed”, these all disappeared.  Grandfather planted what nurseries sold…Austrian pine, spreading juniper, Chinese yew, roses.  As they grew, they provided some habitat; the yews have long been nesting sites for cardinals, the pine attract a variety of birds, the juniper became cover for rabbits and skunks.  A pair of ducks briefly visit the swimming pool each spring.  Still, it wasn’t until my til my aunt added a native meadow, trees, and shrubs, that wildlife really returned.  The yard is once again filled with bees, butterflies and other pollinators.  The ducks stayed and raised a brood.  It’s still a young garden and can’t approach the diversity that once was here, but every year I add more species (plants) and as a result, more species find this small oasis of nativity amid a sea of desert-lawn.  I think Grandfather would be pleased.

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)
Cup plant  Silphium perfoliatum
Tamarack  Larix laricina
Grey Birch  Betula populifolia
New York Ironweed  Vernonia noveboracensis
Eastern Red bud  Cercis canadensis
Black Cherry  Prunus serotina
Paleleaf Woodland Sunflower  Helianthus strumosus
Trumpet Creeper  Campsis radicans

What’s new




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 treesA 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

What’s new
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,

Blinded by stems!

Blinded by stems!

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.