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February 25, 2019 Meeting

Maria Nunes

Join us as guest speaker Maria Nunes takes us around town! Toronto’s traditional Kentucky bluegrass lawns edged with cookie-cutter foundation beds and the odd city-planted tree of yesteryear have given way to a myriad of interpretations of the all-important front yard. From stalwart traditionalists to food growers, ‘naturalized’ to meticulously curated plantings, Toronto’s cosmopolitan status is reflected in its home gardens.

Let this unusual talk inspire your own gardening... or simply sit back and enjoy the simplicity (or complexity!) of what some of these front yards have to offer.

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 bid in our silent auction!

Our sincere thanks (and apologies) for double booking last month's sweet treats. The fabulous homemade cookies that we enjoyed in January amidst the blizzard were prepared by Diana Fancher, Ruth Dobb, and Pamela Merey. Thanks Diana & Pamela for braving the elements to serve them!

Silent Auction

Be sure to participate in our silent auction for your chance to win one of these two books: 

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, February 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 send an email to (if you don't want to use the aforementioned Signup website) to let us know that you'd like to help, and we'll let you know what holes need to be filled. 

Note: Since Signup is free for us to use, it contains advertisements unaffiliated with our Hort, which are displayed along the side of the page.

Free Flowers for February

An Article by Clement Kent

This is the season when we all begin to think, optimistically, about spring flowers. We've been having short intervals of temperatures well above freezing, and this is bringing some of our vernal friends along. For instance, I have a Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) shrub in my back yard and when we hit +5C a few days ago, I checked its buds. Sure enough, some yellow petals were just visible. I cut a few branch tips and put them in water indoors, and the next morning was greeted by the delicious scent and fully extended flowers (pictured below).
Clement's cut branch of Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) in bloom!
At the same time I cut tips from my Forsythia and my buttercup witch hazel or winter hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora). The latter is in the same family as regular witch hazel, looks quite different, and blooms just a few weeks after. Its buds have begun to swell, which unfortunately is the sign for cardinals and squirrels to snack on them! It's in my cool greenhouse now along with the Forsythia, slowly waking up. When the Hamamelis flowers finish, I'll bring these up. Both bushes are large, so I expect to pick bouquets from now until April.

Next will be my Abeliophyllum disticha or Korean white Forsythia (pictured at top of article). It's endangered in the wild in Korea, but manages most winters here in downtown Toronto. We'll see what the -24C temperatures did to its white, fragrant buds. And, when I'm walking along the street and find a drooping bough of maple, I'll cut it to watch the bright red flowers pop out.

If you go for walks in High Park near Grenadier Pond, you might be lucky enough to find some cut boughs from the cherry trees there. In the past, the Parks people have done their cherry pruning around this time of year. Keep them in water in a cool place for perhaps a week before bringing them into a warm, well-lit room and enjoy your own indoor Cherry Festival.
High Park Sakura cherry trees (Prunus jamasakura) near Grenadier Pond, photographed by Cynthia Lickers-Sage. Order your print today as a fundraiser for LEAF’s planting, education, & training initiatives.
I've also got a few Redbud (Cercis canadensis) twigs cut, but they are reputedly hard to force, so I won't begin until perhaps late March. By then, apple, pear, crabapple, or quince stems can be gently urged into bloom. Even magnolias will respond to a late winter coaxing.

So, enjoy some free flowers for February!

Volunteer Opportunities for Hort Members

Parkdale Seedy Saturday

Our Hort will have a table to promote our Society at the March 23rd Parkdale Seedy Saturday taking place at Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church from 11am to 4pm.

We need 3 more volunteers to answer questions about our Society, promote new memberships, and sell select books from our library.

If you're interested, email Maria at

Canada Blooms

There are still spots available for Hort Society members to sit at the OHA booth at Canada Blooms. The dates still available at time of writing are Friday March 8, Sunday March 10, and Tuesday March 12 through Sunday March 17. There are usually three shifts, 10 to 1, 1 to 4, and 4 to 7. Your pass will enable you to visit the show on that day before or after your shift. Canada Blooms is co-presented and located with the National Home Show at the Enercare Centre on the grounds of the CNE.

If you would like to volunteer but are not yet a member, please contact to join.

Members, please respond to, and indicate your preferred date and shift.

Join our Board of Directors

The Board of the Horticulture Societies of Parkdale & Toronto currently has only 7 sitting members. That is just one more than our constitution stipulates as a minimum.

In particular, we would love to have someone who is computer literate, and good at taking notes/minutes and keeping them organized. That is the job of a Secretary.

Please follow up with

Parties in the Parks!

By Clement Kent

I'm applying on behalf of our Hort for a grant from Park People, an organization that "supports and mobilizes people to help them activate the power of parks to improve quality of life in cities across Canada". 

If we get it, we'll be mounting three events in 2019 (spring, summer, and fall) in Kathy's Grove in Stanley Park. The terms of the grant allow us to pay a volunteer to organize the events, so I'll be looking for 1-3 volunteer organizers who don't mind getting an honorarium.

  • member of our Hort
  • some organizational experience
  • able to reach out to the public and media
If we have too many volunteers, preference will be given to those nearest the park. If you're possibly interested, drop me a line at

If you're curious about this grant and would like to learn more, click here for details from the Park People website.

Community Events & Announcements

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.
There will be tours of the exhibition on:
- Thursday, February 21 — 6 to 7pm
- Thursday, March 14 — 6 to 7pm
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!

Health & Wellness Herbs for Winter Wellness

This workshop will cover the best herbs and spices to keep you happy, healthy and warm throughout the winter. Participants will make and sample a variety of herbal preparations including infusions, tinctures and syrups. Take home a restorative remedy and a handout for crafting your own healing tonics.

Hosted by the Toronto Botanical Garden.
WHEN: Thursday, February 21, 2019 — 6:30pm to 8:30pm
WHERE: Toronto Botanical Garden — 777 Lawrence Ave E, North York, ON M3C 1P2.

COST: Public $40; TBG Members $32
You need to register for this event. Learn more and register here.

Get the Jump on Spring & TBG's Seedy Saturday

Two free garden events you won’t want to miss at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.

TBG’s annual Horticultural Open House with 30+ exhibitors including horticultural societies, garden clubs, and environmental organizations, in addition to a floral design competition and show. Details about the competition can be found here


Bring your open-pollinated and heirloom seeds to swap with other gardeners. Leftover seed will be added to the TBG Seed Library. Seeds will also be available for purchase from local seed vendors. Seedy Saturday provides gardeners a chance to share their heirloom seed with one another to make sure it’s available for future generations. It’s also a great opportunity to discover varieties that are not available commercially. Learn more about seed saving with TBG Library’s online guide.

Hosted by the Toronto Botanical Garden.
WHEN: Saturday, February 23, 2019 — 10am to 3pm
WHERE: Toronto Botanical Garden — 777 Lawrence Ave E, North York, ON M3C 1P2.

COST: Free!

Family Owl Prowl

Learn all about the owls of High Park! This event begins with an indoor interactive slideshow that will focus on owl adaptations, what they eat, where they live, and the different species that can be found in Toronto. Each family, group, or couple will dissect an owl pellet... followed by a walk in the woods!

Hosted by the High Park Nature Centre.
WHEN: Two Dates: Saturday, February 23, 2019 — 6 to 8pm or Saturday, March 2, 2019 — 6 to 8pm or 8 to 10pm (adult prowl). 
WHERE: High Park Nature Centre — 375 Colborne Lodge Dr.

COST: $15. Children 3 and under are free!
You need to register for this event. Learn more and register here.

Canada Blooms & The National Home Show

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

***Hort members who volunteer for this event (for a shift at the OHA table) will be granted free entry to the show!*** Sign up to volunteer at one of our upcoming meetings or by emailing Maria at

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.

Wild Bees in Toronto - Identity, Diversity, & How to Help

Join the North American Native Plant Society and the David Suzuki Foundation for an educational and enjoyable evening with Scott MacIvor.

Scott will introduce us to common bee species of Toronto, their habitat, impacts on bees in cities, and how to create nesting opportunities for urban bees.

Scott MacIvor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is interested in plants and pollinators in cities and has been involved with the City of Toronto on a number of projects, including the 'Bees of Toronto' Biodiversity Series book, and the Pollinator Protection Strategy.

Hosted by North American Native Plant Society.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 — 7pm to 8:30pm
WHERE: Wilson Hall, New College, University of Toronto, — 40 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1C6.
COST: 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

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.

***Our Hort will have our very own display table at this event*** Sign up to volunteer at our table at one of our upcoming meetings or by emailing Maria at

Hosted by Greenest City.
WHEN: Saturday, March 23, 2019 — 11am to 4pm. 
WHERE: Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church — 250 Dunn Avenue. 
(Yes, the same place where we host our Monthly Meetings!)
COST: Free!

Restoration in your own backyard

This talk, hosted by Janice Keil, will explore ways for you to restore your property (be it big or small) through the successful identification and removal of Toronto's most pesky invasives. She will also provide guidance on the planting of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. 

Janice is a board member of 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!

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!

Our 2019 Plant Fair!!!

Because hey, 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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