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Remembering Garrison Creek Garden at Dufferin Grove Park


History of the Garden:

The Remembering Garrison Creek Garden is located in a valley on the west side of Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto. It commemorates the Garrison Creek tributary, Dennison Creek, which used to run through this section of the park prior to being diverted into an underground sewer during the late 19th and early 20th century. The soil in this area of the park is fertile and consistently damp, which has made it an ideal site for a riparian/marsh garden. The garden was established by community member Gene Threndyle in 1998, and has a water fountain within it that keeps the soil saturated when it is running, further alluding to the site’s watery past. Some of the species that currently exist in the garden include: elderberry, ninebark, winterberry, cedar,mdogwood (Cornus sericea, Cornus alternifolia), a few ferns and wildflowers.

Goal of the Project:

The garden had become overgrown over the past few years with invasive species out-competing many of the intended native plants. We requested funding from the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto to rejuvenate the garden with native ferns and riparian wildflowers that could stand their ground against the invasive species and add to the gardens’ biodiversity and health as a wildlife habitat.

Project Implementation:

The plant material we selected for the garden, and which was funded by the grant from the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto included: ‘Royal’ fern (Osmunda regalis), ‘Sensitive’ fern (Onoclea sensibilis), ‘Marginal Shield’ fern (Dryopteris marginalis), ‘Maidenhair’ fern (Adiantum pedatum), turtlehead (Chelone obliqua), ‘Great Blue’ lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), ‘Blue Flag’ iris (Iris versicolor), and ‘American Bittersweet’ (Celastrus scandens).

The rejuvenation project was implemented over the course of several volunteer gardening sessions led by City of Toronto Recreation Staff. We began by thinning overgrown plants, weeding the garden of invasive species, then cleaning and repairing the water fountain. Plants arrived on June 15, and on June 16, 2013 we ran a hands-on workshop—a planting party and discussion about Toronto’s hydrological history, the legacy of its buried creeks and rivers, and the ecological issues surrounding them.

We later acquired funding from the City of Toronto for interpretive signage that will further enhance the garden’s potential for educating the public about the history of buried creeks and rivers in Toronto.

Rachel Weston, Garden Co-Coordinator, Dufferin Grove Park Community Garden Club, February 2014