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March 25, 2019 Meeting

Sarah Nixon

When Sarah Nixon’s Roncesvalles garden could no longer accommodate her growing demand for flowers, she set up gardening in her neighbours’ sunny yards!

After 15 years her unique idea—delivering beautiful arrangements and offering workshops in growing and floral design—is thriving. My Luscious Backyard! (all photos below are from Sarah's amazing Instagram!)

Meeting Details

Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West.

Doors open at 7pm.
Meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Come early to enjoy tea, coffee, and cookies while you chat, ask questions, and check out possible raffles, plants, and other items on offer.

It's time to start thinking about our Plant Fair. So, to help you with your division-collection work, the following materials will be at our next meeting, for you to take home. Please bring along a bag to carry your supplies. Note: These supplies and more will also be made available at our April meeting.
  • Pots of various sizes (plastic).
  • Labels & labelling instructions.
  • Printed instructions on how to dig/divide perennials. If you'd like to read these instructions online now, click here to visit our website where you will find "Ten Tips for Dividing Perennials" by fellow member Heather Matthews. Thank you Heather!
There will be a volunteer signup sheet at the meeting. See Maria Nunes. You can also email Maria at if you'd like to reach out to her now, or in case you don't happen to attend our next meeting. She (and the rest of the Plant Fair committee) will be so thankful for your help with Plant Fair. All hands on deck!

Helping Hands at Our Meeting

We're still looking for people to help with some small tasks to ensure the smooth running of our next meeting — Monday, March 25, 2019.

Simply click here to see what tasks are available, and to sign yourself up to lend a hand. This is all done via a free, external website called Signup. 

Alternatively, you can also send Maria Nunes and email at and
 let her know that you'd like to help.

OHA District 15 AGM - Something Magic

Our district's annual general meeting, entitled "Something Magic" is coming up. This is your opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow gardeners and horticultural society members from across District 15, which encompasses Toronto West societies, York Region West societies, and Peel Region Societies. Lots!

The meeting will be comprised of the usual AGM style reporting, voting, presentations, and awards distributions (all interesting, informative stuff)... plus, there will be a flower show with numerous categories, a silent auction, raffles, door prizes, and a talk entitled "Magic Revealed" presented by guest speaker Heinke Thiessen.

For all the details on this event, plus information about entering the flower show, click here to view a PDF of the event package.

If you wish to attend, our society needs to formally register you, so please send an email ASAP to our co-presidents (Barbara & Ron — they both receive these emails) to or speak with them at our March meeting.

Hosted by the Credit Valley Horticultural Society.
WHEN: April 27, 2019 — 10am until 3:30pm. If participating in the flower show, you must arrive earlier (between 8:15-9:15am) as all flowers must be ready for presentation by 9:30am sharp.
WHERE: Capitol Banquet Centre — 6435 Dixie Rd, Mississauga, ON L5T 1X4
COST: $30 (includes breakfast, lunch, coffee/tea). Note: Our Hort will be covering the cost for a limited number of our members (first come first serve basis) to attend this event.

Finally, remember Emieke's quick announcement at our last meeting about decorating a Harry Potter style sorting hat (it looks like a witch's hat)? We're looking for a member (or members working together) to get creative and construct a masterful submission to the D15 AGM on behalf of our Hort. Details about the hat decorating competition can be found here (a PDF will automatically begin downloading).

If you're interested in this fun project, email Ron & Barbara at and arrangements will be made to pass along the hat!

If you'd like to do this but cannot actually attend the D15 AGM, that's fine. Just let a board member know and they'll be sure to get the decorated hat into the trustworthy hands of someone from our society who will be attending the meeting.

It's "Garden Projects" Application Time

Encouraging our community to garden has been a focus of our Hort from the very beginning — over 185 years ago!

Do you know of a community garden that would benefit from some financial support? It can be a brand new garden (not yet even started) or a pre-existing one that's in need of some sprucing up. Apply for one of our "Garden Projects" grants. 

Application submission deadline: April 1, 2019. 

Details are listed on our website here:

Questions can be directed to Judy at

Happy gardening!

Updates from some Community "Garden Projects" Supported by our Hort

Report by Anne Karpynczyk

Our main goal was to extend the existing garden on Wright Avenue on the left side of the sidewalk path.

A tiller was rented to prepare the soil as it was quite compacted. We also augmented the soil as the burning bush planted several years ago was still alive but hadn’t grown much. Hopefully having new siblings will help it thrive more successfully.
Plant variety was simplified to provide more visual impact and to make the garden more manageable. Drought tolerant plants were also the focus as the nearby tree roots drink up any available water. We installed a soaker hose to provide weekly deep watering and also added much needed mulch.

Several varieties of grasses were planted to provide winter interest and movement (Blue oat grass, Miscanthus sinensis “Red silver”). Variegated Molinia grass was placed at the back so the variegation would draw your eyes to that area. Variegation repetition occurs with the Iris pallida that’s at the border front.

Plants from my mom’s garden were included: Helianthus Lemon Queen, some tall grasses and a Peony that’s over 60 years old.
We used several lavender plants to tie into the lavender used on the garden border on the right side of the walkway. The perennial Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) was tracked down and included as it piqued my interest when mentioned by one of our monthly guest speakers. Lastly, spring bulbs – again just a few varieties - were planted to complement the perennials – keeping up the Monet inspired palette of the Roncesvalles Avenue main garden.

By season’s end, this new garden already had a wonderful feel to it. Now it’s in the hands of God and time, to knit it all together!

Report by Mary-Louise Craven with input & pictures from Catherine Raven

Those of us at Maria Nunes' February Hort talk on "Neighbourhood Front Yards" enjoyed her eclectic selection of photos taken as she biked around our Parkdale and High Park neighbourhoods. How fitting that she included shots of the gardens of Colborne Lodge: our Hort has been supporting this legacy of John Howard through its members' volunteer-labour and through Garden Projects financial support that has been used to purchase plants, shrubs, and bulbs for many years. (Indeed, we may hold the record for longest support.) While the gardens are a part of Colborne Lodge, one of the city's Historical Museums, the city provides very little support—there is no paid gardener and minimal flats of annuals are sent over from Spadina House. Thus, without the sustenance of our Hort and its members, the gardens would look very different—if they even existed!

The gardens are enjoyed by all those who venture to the south-east portion of High Park: photographers come to snap close-ups of the flowers; many others simply wander around and, if one of us is in the garden, ask us what those strange-looking plants are (yes, they’re Amaranth aka Love-Lies-Bleeding).
This past fall, with the Hort's support, we planted weigela and forsythia shrubs to augment the deutziaviburnum, hollyberry, and weigela already there, since Howard’s journals tell us that the Lodge was surrounded by flowering fruit trees and shrubs in the spring. We also planted 250 tulips, 150 scilla, and 50 daffodils to augment our existing bulbs; we’re inspired by the vision of the former glory of the garden.

In a letter dated 19 December 1883 to his sister-in-law, John Howard wrote (replete with spelling mistakes!):

“…My flowerbeds have been very much admired by scores of visitors that I have had this summer, from the 8th of April 1883 all through the summer. 900 crocus of different colours, about 750 snowdrops, 1914 tulips of different colours, some very fine, 860 grape hyacents, 2198 daffidils all out in bloom in different beds, 3770 John Quills, making 10,993 altogether and many more came out after the count.

…The gladiolas, Crown Imperial lilies, the feather plants which grow 5 feet high, rose trees, and rose peonys, hollyhocks, sunflowers, and many other flowers too numerous to mention, pleased the ladies very much, and their fingers hitched to pick some of them, but it was not allowed.”
This year we will add 88 dahlias spread out over 2 of the beds. We want to add more colour to our gardens and think dahlias are one way to accomplish this. We will also plant more tulips this fall in light of Howard’s 1883 garden. Please come over this spring and see how this year's crop is blooming; perhaps this will inspire you to want to garden with us! The garden is in great need of more volunteers—even if it’s only a blitz or two in the mid to late spring to help get the beds under control.

If you would like to help out in our "neighbourhood front yard" please contact Catherine Raven (, a stalwart volunteer supervisor who ensures that we all follow in the footsteps of the master gardener, John Howard.

Just before Spring

by Clement Kent

Last month I mentioned some shrubs I've been cutting and forcing into bloom indoors. By the time you see this we may be entering the first reliably above freezing days of spring, but I'm still bringing stems up from the cold greenhouse. Here are their report cards:

Abeliophyllum distichum - Korean white Forsythia. This delicate beauty hadn't begun to swell its buds in my first January clipping time. By mid February we'd had a few days that tempted it a bit so I cut a bouquet. Left to mature at their own speed in the 5C/40F greenhouse, they began to look juicy on March 2 so were brought up to the kitchen and bloomed nicely the next day. It took another day for the sweet fragrance to mature. The photo (above) shows them just as they were popping open. I'm pleased to discover that the "lack of hardiness" of the buds only applies when we have extended warm spells in midwinter that tease it into blooming too soon. In this very wintry -24C season there has been no damage to the blooming stalks.

Forsythia - although the mid-January stems took 3 weeks to get going in the cool room, they bloomed beautifully when brought upstairs. My February cuttings are urgently hinting they are ready too but I'm waiting until the Abeliophyllum is done before bringing them up.

Corylopsis pauciflora - the buttercup witch hazel begrudged the January cut, even though several of the terminal buds had shed their scales. It eventually bloomed a bit but was not a star! However, the February stems look much more willing. I'll bring them up after the Forsythia is finished and give them a second try.

Magnolia kobus - this close relative of the shrubby Star magnolia was grown from seeds Jonathan Wong and I collected at the RBG in the fall of 1988. My surviving tree is now about 3 stories tall and makes a glorious if brief display early in the season. However, the stems I gathered in February seem totally unimpressed with me and have done nothing so far. Will they still bloom indoors before the mother tree? We'll see....
A few days ago I had the pleasure of a brief garden visit from Charlotte de Keyzer, PhD bee researcher at UofT Scarborough. Charlotte's supervisor is none other than Scott MacIvor, whom many of you have met, and she's into her second year of her Urban Redbud project.
This winter Charlotte has been collecting cuttings of native spring-blooming trees and shrubs so she can force them to determine when they would bloom naturally (Charlotte has formulae to project this). She got Manitoba Maple and Winterberry stems from our garden. There are many native bees that are active early in the spring and the supply of flowers for them is a critical factor in their success. Charlotte is trying to figure out how climate change affects blooming time, and whether the bees are able to adapt as this changes. The picture of Charlotte (above) is from her Twitter page (@cwdekeyzer) where you can find a link to her CBC interview on the Urban Redbud project (and bee hotels!).

If it's sunny and above freezing when you read this, don't forget to go out into a garden or streetscape and look for swelling buds - spring is almost here!!

A Bit of Hort History

by Clement Kent

Above are front-and-back photos of silver medals awarded by the Toronto Horticultural Society:
  • 1913, for "Display of Sweet Peas"
  • 1916, for "Best Collection Darwin Tulips"
  • 1916, for "Best Display of Cut Flowers"
  • (no marked year), for "Best Collection Tomatoes"
The awardee was Sir Edmund Boyd Osler, of Craigleigh Gardens in Rosedale. After his death, the stately home was torn down and the grounds were donated to the city, where they make up the park of the same name (shown below). I suspect Sir Edmund was a Hort member but don't have membership lists from 1913 or 1916 to check.
I ran into Sir Edmund when I was looking up the history of the eminent Canadian physician Sir William Osler, who helped found Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and wrote the most influential medical textbook for many decades and "whom many consider the greatest physician since Hippocrates". The brothers were both born in Bond Head, after which the family moved to Dundas, Ontario. Sir William later became President of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

I used to go to a descendant of the Osler clan, Dr. Martin Osler, for my glasses prescriptions. Dr. Osler has retired but keeps his quirky ground floor office on College Street, which is full of "antiques, folk art, decoys etc." as his LinkedIn entry says. It was definitely the most interesting physician's waiting room ever! (Below, a photo of his waiting room, courtesy of Rui Pereira).
I hope you've enjoyed this little sojourn into Toronto and area history by way of 103 and 106 year old medals from the Hort!

Kathy's Grove in Bloom!

Congratulations are in order! 

Clement Kent snapped this blossom-packed photo of our Kathy's Grove back in the heydays of summer, and submitted it to the Pollination Guelph Symposium's "Garden & Landscaping Photo Contest" where it took 2nd place. Hurray!

Community Events & Announcements

Canada Blooms & The National Home Show

Canada’s largest garden and flower festival is on right now, chock-full of fascinating speakers, stunning exhibits, and countless booths to explore. Plus, it's combined with the National Home Show.

Some of our Hort members will be volunteering at the OHA table. Be sure to pop by and say hello!

WHEN: March 8 to 17, 2019 — opens at 10am daily. Closing times differ day-to-day so check their website for details. 
WHERE: Enercare Centre (Exhibition Place) — 100 Princes' Blvd, Toronto, ON M6K 3C3

COST: General (18-64) - $20; Senior (65+) - $17; Youth (13-17) - $16; Children 12 & Under - FREE.

Green Living Show

This event is for everyone who is curious and committed to lightening his or her environmental footprint. You'll go away with products, tips and inspiration to help you save the planet, save money and feel good.

WHEN: March 22 to 24, 2019
WHERE: Metro Toronto Convention Centre — 255 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2W6
COST: $14.00 (Online) or $18.00 (At the door); Children 12 and under are free!

Parkdale Seedy Saturday & Green Fair

Our community’s go-to annual seed exchange, seed borrowing, and seed sale — part of a series (started in the 90s) that now happens on a global scale. Click here to learn more about Seedy Saturdays in general.

This year's event will be better than ever with workshops, great food, and vendors - on top of the usual seed swapping, of course. Check it out!

***Our Hort will have our very own display table at this event*** Sign up to volunteer at our table by sending an email to Maria Nunes at

Hosted by Greenest City and Toronto Urban Growers.
WHEN: Saturday, March 23, 2019 — 11am to 4pm. 
WHERE: Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church — 250 Dunn Avenue. 
(Note: This is the same place and room where we host our Hort's monthly meetings.)
COST: Pay-What-You-Can

Water-Loving Native Plants

This talk, hosted by Janice Keil, will examine a 97 agricultural acreage in Northumberland County that is home to an ongoing marsh restoration experiment to assess the impact of the invasive Reed Canary Grass on the hydrology of marsh ecosystems. An ecological swimming pool constructed to EU standards using native plants as the sole filtration system in the regeneration zone will be built next year.

Janice grew up on a mixed crop farm in SW Ontario, and put herself through university by growing cucumbers commercially for Bicks. That experience turned her towards organic agriculture, a sector she remains active in to this day. She is passionate environmentalist and a board director with the North American Native Plant Society, an organization committed to preserving native plant habitat in wild areas and restoring indigenous flora to developed areas.

Hosted by High Park Stewards.
WHEN: Sunday, March 24, 2019 — 10:30am to 12:30pm
WHERE: Howard Park Tennis Club — 430 Parkside Drive, Toronto.
COST: Free!

How to Breathe Forever

How to Breathe Forever is an exhibition that underlines the importance and interconnectedness of air, animals, coral, humans, insects, land, plants and water — the belief that everything in the universe has a place and deserves equal respect. The exhibition brochure is available online here.

Hosted by Onsite Gallery and OCAD University.
WHEN: January 16 to April 14, 2019 — Wednesday to Friday open from 12 noon to 7pm, and weekends from 12 noon to 5pm
. Closed Monday & Tuesday.
WHERE: Onsite Gallery — 199 Richmond Street West, Street Level, Toronto, Ontario.
COST: Free!

Earth Hour 2019 — Celebrate Indoors in Ward 4 (Parkdale - High Park)

Hit the lights for Earth Hour, a one hour timeframe when we symbolically (and literally!) reduce our energy-use by turning off our TVs, lights, etc., in a gesture of conservation and environmentalism.

Earth Hour is something you can honour and participate in at home, by powering down, or you can partake with others in your community. This year, various shops, restaurants, bars, community centres, churches, and other organizations will be hosting their own Earth Hour events through Toronto's Ward 4 — Parkdale - High Park. To find an event that suits you, check their Facebook Page here or website here

WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 2019 — 8:30 to 9:30pm
WHERE: Various Locations through Toronto's Ward 4 (Parkdale - High Park) 
COST: Free!

Earth Hour Walk through High Park Zoo

Friends of High Park Zoo and Green 13 have organized an Earth Hour Walk in High Park. Meet at Grenadier Restaurant and enjoy some hot chocolate before the start of the walk. Participants are encouraged to bring lanterns.

Hosted by Friends of High Park Zoo, Green 13, and The Grenadier Restaurant. 
WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 2019 — 8:30pm.

WHERE: Grenadier Restaurant (right in the centre of High Park) — 200 Parkside Drive.
COST: Free event and free parking!
Click here to view the event poster

The Organic Master Gardener Course

Designed for everyone from backyard and community gardeners to professional landscapers, this course has something for everyone interested in sustainable land management practices.

This comprehensive and inspiring course lays the foundation for making decisions on growing plants for ornamental or food purposes without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals.

This course has been pre-approved for Continuing Education Credits with CNLA, MGOI, ISA and more.

Hosted by Canadian Organic Growers (COG), Canada’s national organic farmer and consumer association.
WHEN: April 6 to June 22, 2019
WHERE: Albert Campbell Library —  496 Birchmount Road, Scarborough, ON M1K 1N8.

COST: $795 for COG Members or $845 for non-members. or email

Earth Day Family Celebration

Come celebrate Earth Day at Toronto Botanical Garden. Help plant the Teaching Garden, create nature crafts, listen to nature-themed stories, ride the blender bike and more!

Drinks and snacks will be available for purchase. Lug a mug and water bottle to help us reduce waste at this event. Stroller accessible.

Hosted by Toronto Botanical Garden.
WHEN: Saturday, April 27, 2019 — 12 noon to 3pm
WHERE: Toronto Botanical Garden — 777 Lawrence Ave E, North York, ON M3C 1P2. 
All activities take place in the Teaching Garden. Park in the TBG lot and then follow signs through Wilket Creek ravine to the west side of the creek to access the Teaching Garden.
COST: Free! Registration is recommended. Click here to register.

Nature on the Page: The Print and Manuscript Culture of Victorian Natural History

During this difficult winter, there is a lovely exhibit of print and manuscript culture of Victorian natural history that will brighten your spirits.

On display are books and hand painted prints dating back to the 1600s. The detail and colours are wonderful and it’s so interesting to see how people explored the environment seeking samples to paint or even include as real samples in their works. Both flowers and birds are included.

There is a free hour-long audio guide, narrated by the curator that you can listen to, or simply read the informative captions as you view the items on the two floors. If you’ve never been to this section of the library, you will find it a trip worth taking all on its own.

Hosted by University of Toronto Libraries. Curated by Maria Zytaruk, Associate Professor of English, University of Calgary.
WHEN: Monday, January 28, 2019 to Friday, April 26, 2019 — 9am to 5pm on weekdays (with extended hours on Thursday evenings until 8pm). Closed Saturday & Sunday.
WHERE: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (part of the Robarts Research Library on the U of T campus) — 120 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 1A5

COST: Free!

PollinateTO Community Grants

The City has just launched the PollinateTO Community Grants. Native pollinators are under threat from climate change, habitat loss and other stressors. Now you can help protect them!

Eligible groups can apply for grants of up to $5,000 to support community-led projects that:

  • create pollinator gardens and rain gardens on public and private lands, including residential streets, neighbourhoods and school yards
  • enhance or expand existing gardens with native pollinator-friendly plants

Community groups, not-for-profit organizations, student groups, parent councils and other resident-led groups are encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is May 1.
To learn more and apply, click here or visit

Our 2019 Plant Fair!!!

It's never too early to get excited, mark your calendars, and spread the word!

Hosted by us — The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto.
WHEN: Saturday, May 11, 2019 — 10am to 2pm
WHERE: Roncesvalles United Church (same spot as last year) — 240 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto, ON M6R 1M3

COST: Free!

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Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto · 1938 Bloor St West, PO Box 30023 · Toronto, On M6P 4J2 · Canada

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