News

Tuesday
May232017

May 29, 2017 - Merry May Meeting

Please click on the poster to find out more. 

Tuesday
May232017

Merry May Meeting - May 29, 2017

Our next meeting will be on Monday May 29, 2017 at St George the Martyr Church, 197 John St at Stephanie and John Streets. The meeting will be in the FELLOWSHIP ROOM.

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE MERRY MAY MEETING?

Merry is the theme of this last meeting of the season. 

  • Arrive early and enjoy a stroll in St. George’s garden, which is one of the Hort-funded garden projects.
  • Refreshments, as usual, will be available in the kitchen.
  • Raffle tickets will be sold for your chance to win items that include a gardener’s gift basket, books, a purse and gift certificate from Home Hardware. Purchase tickets at the meeting to win—$2 for one or $5 for three. 
  • The Spring Flower Show. Enter your design or simply enjoy the show.
  • Digital photos will be presented by Hort members for your enjoyment. Clement Kent will present Sights and Sounds of Spring, a video medley he created that includes birds, bees, flowers, rushing springs, crickets, frogs, butterflies and 90 year-old jazz recordings. Abby Bushby will present photos of delight, showing the children’s tulip planting and parade to the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden. 
  • The Trivia Quiz will have you answering unusual horticultural questions in exchange for a prize.
  • The Hort’s popular Garden Gloves will be available to purchase in time for your summer gardening days.
  • Awards will be announced and presented. Congratulate your fellow Hort members.

The Flower Show Theme: Fair Enough

That acclaimed highlight of the horticultural season, the Plant Fair, has provided many of us with wonderful additions to our gardens. For this year’s Flower Show (another highlight, needless to add) create a composition using plant material all, or in part, sourced from our Plant Fairs over the years. Please have your arrangements set up for judging (and our admiration, bien sur!) by 6:30pm. All plant material used must be from your own garden. Happy spring!
—Joni Boyer 

Wednesday
Apr262017

Plant Fair - May 13, 2017

Click on the Poster to find out more.

Friday
Apr212017

April 24, 2017 Meeting

To find out more, click on the poster below.

Friday
Apr212017

Lorraine Johnson - Gardens, Goats & Greenways: An Unconventional Tour of Paris

April 24, 2017 Meeting

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Quelle surprise…with Lorraine Johnson leading our adventure we’ll visit Paris community gardens with chickens, goats doing lawn care at Jardin des Tuileries and a 17th century peach wall being lovingly restored. Also, her new edition of 100 Easy to Grow Native Plants will be available at the meeting. 

LIFE’S NEVER DULL IF YOU CAT-SIT IN PARIS

I was mildly irritated that, in the first bio I wrote for April’s speaker some years back, I’d described the striking short- cropped hair and black and white striped leggings she was wearing the first time I saw Lorraine Johnson. Oh, well, can’t do that again. The fact is, mind you, that she hasn’t changed that much…the hair, the tall slender woman, the spoon and fork earrings, anyway. But that first meeting was over 30 years ago and I dare say, it’s really quite incredible that someone can write so many books and articles, speak all over North America on a variety of topics, and still manage to discover new things that surprise her! Good for us!

This time it’s the fledgling élevage d’animaux (animal husbandry) taking place in the City of Light. Until last year, Lorraine had an annual month-long, “best gig in the world”, cat-sitting arrangement in Paris, which is decidedly not élevage d’animaux. This gig allowed her to spend a lot of time discovering the city in a leisurely way. This past summer, she began to notice livestock in various places—goats ‘mowing’ the grounds of the Jardin des Tuileries by the Louvre, sheep performing the same task in other public parks, chickens in Monet’s garden and community gardens, and chickens and beehives on the rooftop of the four-star Pullman Hotel!

As she is sure to do, Lorraine will explain this discovery in its ecological and agricultural contexts. These were topics that informed her most recent book, City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, and propelled her into the spotlight as one of very few outspoken champions for the backyard chicken movement.

She is herself nesting on the Toronto Islands these days, where she and her new wife, Pam, eloped while awaiting the completion of a house reno. In the insular, wintry escape, they are plotting a rejuvenation of their garden, including Pam’s idea of using vertical space, which is fitting after Lorraine’s visit to ancient, espaliered peach orchards on the outskirts of Paris. As to her previous trio of hens, they’ve gone back to the farm, but when she reconvenes the little flock, she is now considering including quail!

Lorraine has also just published a revised edition of 100 Easy-To-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens (although it is really 101 plants, she confessed), which includes botanical name changes and a bit about pollinators. She will be happy to take questions on plants after her talk.

Maria Nunes 

Wednesday
Mar222017

March 27, 2017 Meeting

To find out more, click on the poster below.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Marion Jarvie - A Tour of the Jarvie Garden

March 27, 2017 Meeting

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Marion will open her reknowned private garden revealing this peaceful jewelbox as the seasons change and transform the fabulous combinations of shrubs, trees, perennials and her many new plants!

A GARDEN FOR ALL SEASONS

As a blustery snowstorm rattles my windows, it’s good to flip through Marion Jarvie’s webpage gallery of plants from her garden. The fresh, crisp, vivid colours of the many beautiful plants and snippets of garden beds throughout the year are a welcome distraction when Mother Nature teased us with late spring-like weather a couple of weeks ago, but then threw us one last (one hopes) volley of winter.

The computer screen is no match for the screen upon which this month’s presenter will once again treat us to bigger than life images skilfully captured by this prolific photographer. Marion has shown us images from far off lands in past visits, but this time she’s concentrating on her own garden in Thornhill—not that it isn’t as exotic!

As we’ve come to learn, Marion loves to showcase new and unusual plants discovered on her many international journeys, alongside our own natives, like our hardy orchids (remember John Alexander and Peter Kaellgren’s presentation last November?), otherwise known as Lady Slippers. There are plants of every kind featured in this garden from trees and shrubs in all shapes and sizes, including the bright rose, double-flowered prunus ‘Marion Jarvie’; to tender perennials both in the ground and in pots, like numerous varieties of succulents. From shade to sun-loving plants and bog-loving to dry rock garden plants, Marion and her husband Alex have created a living, encyclopaedic work of plant art for all seasons on their nearly 1⁄2 acre site.

Just as we get set to dig our hands back into the soil, this will provide one last shot of inspiration for the coming gardening season.

Maria Nunes 

Thursday
Feb162017

February 27, 2017 Meeting

To find out more, click on the image below.

Thursday
Feb162017

Anna Leggatt - Monarchs, Mountains and Mexico

February 27, 2017 Meeting

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!
Toronto’s self-proclaimed “mad gardener”, Anna Leggatt, had a dream to see the over-wintering monarchs. She will take us on her amazing adventure to a butterfly sactuary atop a fir forested mountain in the central highlands of Mexico.
To read Clement Kent’s article about his expedition to the monarchs, please click here.
Wednesday
Feb152017

A Royal Visit

by Clement Kent, Ph.D., S.R.A, C.P.Y., etc., etc.

 ⦁ A visit with the Royal Families chez eux ⦁ Base Camp I ⦁ Base Camp II ⦁ The Ascent ⦁ The Royal Forest ⦁ Floral Adornment ⦁ Silence in the Presence ⦁ No Gain without Pain ⦁ Health of the Royals ⦁ Royal Court ⦁ Long Term prospects for the Monarchs ⦁ How You may Help

Your Humble Correspondent had the never-to-be-forgotten honor of visiting the Monarchs (Danaus plexippa, in Court language) in their winter palaces in January. Here I record my observations along with some Illustrations by the redoubtable Mr. Canon, SLR.

⦁ Base Camp I ⦁

Although Their Majesties are more commonly observed in their Summer habitations, in the Winter they withdraw to remote Winter Palaces, difficult of approach. Thus my cousin Mr. Casey and I began our expedition in the town of Morelia, State of Michoacan, Republic of Mexico. Here we established our first base camp in the comfortable Hotel de la Soledad. We dined excellently on regional specialties of gourmet quality with local dignitaries Profs. Ramirez, Marten-Rodriguez, and Quesada of UNAM and discussed their efforts at understanding the role of the peasantry and local fauna and flora. We toured local indigenous artworks, many of which took as their theme the presence of the Monarchs.

⦁ Base Camp II ⦁

We had hired a native guide, Mr. Lopez, who translated and conducted our caravan for us. We repaired to our second camp, the Training Centre of Alternare A.C., three hours from Camp I. We were assigned humble but adequate quarters suitable to our dignity (the Presidential Suite for myself, bunk-beds for Messrs. Casey and Lopez). Simple but abundant and delicious local foods were prepared for us by the good campesino ladies. It is to be noted that at no point were we afflicted with the unpleasantnesses of digestion reported by some travellers. Indeed, part of the Mission of Alternare is the teaching of Hygiene to local campesinos, and judging by our fare they are eminently successful. We shall have further Observations regarding the Mission of Alternare below.

⦁ The Ascent ⦁

Fortified with excellent food and drink prepared for us by the good ladies, we began our first Ascent to the Royal Premises.  After 45 minutes on progressively steeper mountain roads, we reached 3,260 meters elevation (above the altitude of Quito, Ecuador; by comparison the highest permanent settlements of Europe are below 2,200 meters) where we left our trusty Honda vehicle and entered the Royal Preserve “Sierra Chincua”. Here we engaged another local guide to take us up to the Royal Forest. We determined to test our Fortitude by walking, but some of our companions who carried heavy Photographic Apparatus discovered less than a kilometer up the trail that they required assistance, at which point a campesino with a horse appeared as if by magic. One suspects that those with delicate constitutions often flag about this point, although the path is more long than steep. Nonetheless, the air at these heights is thin and the slightest exertion is felt more keenly.

⦁ The Royal Forest ⦁

We soon passed from open pastures, inhabited by hardy cattle, to the penumbrous shade of stately Oyamel Fir trees. These cap the mountains and represent a preferred tree of their Majesties, of which more anon. The Forest was previously owned and logged by the peasantry, but the Government of Mexico has declared a Preserve to protect the Monarchs. A grievous consequence of this is severe loss of income to local families, only some of which is made up by revenues from tourism.

⦁ Floral Adornment ⦁

As we ascended the mountain, in clearings we saw great quantities of flowers, including blue and red native sages (Salvia Mexicana and many others), purple groundsels (Senecio callosus) and a host of others. Violent winter winds in the past few years have created many windfalls in which winter bloom abounds. These clearings provide a good part of the winter sustenance of their Majesties.

⦁ Silence in the Presence ⦁

Finally, we approached an area where the majestic Firs were cloaked in Monarchs. Our guide admonished us, sotto voce, to be silent in the Presence. Indeed so Awesome a sight struck many of us silent, although without the vigilance of the guides there would no doubt have been a clatter and chatter most disturbing to Royalty. 

⦁ No Gain without Pain ⦁

The pressure of the madding crowd prevented close examination of the Royals at our first stopping place. However, we had been provided a special License to approach their Majesties more closely, at a second location. To do this we followed the guide down one steep slope and then up another, arriving at another Royal Grove where we were the only Supplicants present. Here we were able to observe the resting Royalty at length, for it was still before noon. Those who have only observed Monarchs in their leafy summer palaces of milkweed may not know that in winter-time they use the aristocratic privilege of sleeping until the Sun is high, for it is cool in the Groves. Thus we have the slightly touching image of Mr. Casey breathing on a recumbent Monarch to attempt to rouse it with his plebeian Breath. 

Leaving this grove, we ascended a most challenging slope at the crest of which, exceeding 3,400 meters, we were afforded most pleasing views of the surrounding country. However, the ascent did provoke some heavy breathing among our party, and complaints upon the following morn of stiff muscles.

⦁ Health of the Royals ⦁

Although difficult to believe when in the Presence, the number of Monarchs in 2017 is the second lowest in recorded history. Evil effects of 21st century farming methods, including the drastic decrease in milkweeds in their Spring Courts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa due to increased herbicide use and the prevalent cult of King Corn, have reduced the production of new Royals drastically. It is the young from the Spring Courts who move even further North to our lands in May and June and in their turn produce children in the northern States and Canada. Then, when Summer’s days are waning, Canadian Monarchs (aided by the winds of Boreas) fly over 4,000 kilometers to their Winter Palaces.

⦁ Royal Court ⦁

No Monarchy functions without couriers and servitors. We have already mentioned the faithful Guides who preserve and protect their Majesties. One may also see heavily armed “Federales” prepared to repel logger brigands from the Royal Forest, and these make up the military classes. However, it is the servitors who, as in any court, are most essential to their royal needs. At Alternare, part of their Mission is teach sustainable silviculture to the local campesinos. We met peasant families in small cooperatives who raise and plant  thousands of native tree seedlings each year on the mountain slopes. Unlike the planting efforts of government funded reforestation, where only 5-15% of seedling survive a year, the campesino plantings are well timed and well tended and over 85% survive. More, multiple species are grown. Further, Alternare teaches local families ways to reduce wood use in their cooking and construction, diminishing mountain slope deforestation. 

⦁ Long Term Prospects for the Monarchs ⦁

The decline of habitat in Winter, Spring, and Summer courts continues. Under the regency of Prince Obama, steps were taken to provide subsidies to farmers in the Spring Courts to eliminate herbicide use on strips between farm fields and along Royal Roads. However, the advent of the Pretender casts doubt that these essential programs will continue. Worse, the Pretender is now attacking Mexico and Mexicans, which may reduce funds available for protection of the Winter Courts.

⦁ How You May Help ⦁

We here in the Dominion can best help their Majesties in several ways. Each of us can help locally by planting attractive milkweed species in our gardens and our public places, avoiding herbicide and pesticide uses in these plantations, and educating our fellows about the needs of the Monarchs. Whether we can affect the Pretender and his Republican Guard is dubious; so until his yoke is cast off, we must support the efforts of organized groups such as Alternare. If this link does not work for you, you may use this one.

You may also help by visiting the Winter Palaces. To do, so, we recommend travelling to Mexico City via a non-stop flight from Muddy York. Thence, a luxurious bus may be hired to transport you to Morelia, where we advise a day or three of accommodation to altitude and enjoyment of the Colonial art, architecture, and gourmet gastronomy. When ready, take a recognized tour to the Winter Palaces. Unless you are strong and aerobically fit, we advise you to hire a horse for the ascent.  Be sure to tip your Guides well and if so inclined, investigate the wares on display at the base – many locally produced baskets, pottery, and warm woolen winter wraps are on display. And warm you may wish for! At nights temperatures on the mountaintops can flirt with freezing, although on sunny afternoons it is often a comfortable 18-20C. An ideal time for a tour is to reach the Court at 11am (with a packed lunch) and watch until 1pm, at which time many butterflies will be flying. The Monarchs arrive in November and depart in March. The warmest time to visit is the second half of February, although the crowds will be largest then too.