The An­der­son Par­kette

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos by Sean James

Ev­ery once in a while, a land­scape de­signer gets to cre­ate some­thing re­ally spe­cial; some­thing to ed­u­cate; some­thing to in­spire; some­thing to add beauty to the lives of the pub­lic. An­der­son Bridge Par­kette in Oakville was just such an op­por­tu­nity. And thanks to the dogged ef­forts of a few it came to pass as this story shows…

Through hard work and per­sis­tence, Cather­ine Kavas­salis, Co-pres­i­dent of the Oakville Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety, con­vinced her mem­ber­ship that a on­ce­bor­ing park near Oakville’s Bronte Har­bour could be trans­formed into a work of art which could also ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment. She pulled to­gether sup­port from sev­eral stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing mu­nic­i­pal and re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Con­ser­va­tion Hal­ton, which is no small task in it­self, and be­gan the process of find­ing a de­signer to work with.

Why did Mrs. Kavas­salis go to such great lengths? She writes, “In 2010, the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly chal­lenged the world to take action to pro­tect the great va­ri­ety of life on our planet by safe­guard­ing re­gional species di­ver­sity. With sup­port from the Re­gion of Hal­ton and the Town of Oakville, the Oakville Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety (OHS) pro­posed cre­at­ing a new bio­di­verse gar­den in the An­der­son Bridge Par­kette (cor­ner of Forsythe and Re­becca streets) in Oakville.” She

con­tin­ues… “But we needed a de­signer ex­pe­ri­enced with na­tive plants and sus­tain­able land­scap­ing. In walked Fern Ridge Land­scap­ing & Eco-Con­sult­ing. They crafted a state-of-the-art, wa­ter­wise gar­den that blooms from spring to fall, with a per­me­able path­way. Un­der their guid­ance, vol­un­teers from the OHS have cre­ated a ‘Gar­den for Life’ pro­vid­ing year-round beauty for area res­i­dents while sup­port­ing pol­li­na­tors and area wildlife. We are proud of this evolv­ing gar­den and wel­come all to come and en­joy this spe­cial space.”

It’s fairly easy to get folks out to help build a gar­den since ev­ery­one likes ‘cre­at­ing’. It’s com­par­a­tively dif­fi­cult to get a group of vol­un­teers to weed and wa­ter a gar­den through that cru­cial first year, but the Oakville Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety mem­bers have done an amaz­ing job. Now, the gar­den is a show­piece in the com­mu­nity. The Town of Oakville has gen­er­ously de­liv­ered wa­ter to bar­rels on the site so mem­bers can wa­ter the new plant­ings. (There’s a great irony to drought-tol­er­ant plant­ings in that they need more wa­ter for the first year of es­tab­lish­ment than ‘tra­di­tional’ gar­dens.) Keep­ing in mind that ev­ery gar­den is an evolv­ing propo­si­tion, the gar­den is now fi­nally able, more or less, to stand on its own.

Was the gar­den a suc­cess?

Ac­cord­ing to Mrs. Kavas­salis, "The gar­den now con­tains over 50 plant species na­tive to North Amer­ica. In the spring, painted lady but­ter­flies flock

to the pearly ev­er­last­ing to lay their eggs and hum­ming­birds seek the del­i­cate red columbines for their pre­cious spring nec­tar (so im­por­tant af­ter their long jour­ney across the lake). Rab­bits start trim­ming the blaz­ing star as it emerges, mak­ing the plants grow bushy and im­prov­ing their stun­ning sum­mer dis­play of blooms. From our eastern bum­ble­bee to the iri­des­cent sweat bees and jewel-like syr­phid flies, pol­li­na­tors abound through­out the sum­mer sea­son. In the fall, goldfinches can be seen dan­gling from cone­flow­ers as monar­chs float from flower to flower prepar­ing for their jour­ney south. When win­ter comes, signs of mice and deer find­ing refuge can be seen. Bun­dled chil­dren sit on the bench and en­joy the beauty of grasses glazed with ice sway­ing in the chilly breeze. It is truly an oa­sis for life here in Oakville.”

When ev­ery­one shares a com­mon vi­sion for the greater good and for beauty, it’s all worth it! Gar­den­ing can be in­spir­ing and it should be art. If it can ed­u­cate at the same time, ev­ery­one wins!

Sean James is a grad­u­ate of the Ni­a­gara Parks School of Hor­ti­cul­ture and owner of Fern Ridge Land­scap­ing & Eco-con­sult­ing. He’s de­signed sev­eral pub­lic gar­dens in­clud­ing the Mil­ton Mil­len­nium Gar­den and An­der­son Bridge Par­kette Bio­di­ver­sity Gar­den in Oakville. He’s been speak­ing pub­licly and writ­ing about eco-gar­den­ing is­sues since the early 90’s. He’s also the Chair of Land­scape On­tario’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Stew­ard­ship Com­mit­tee and sev­eral other eco-com­mit­tees.

An­der­son Bridge Par­kette sup­ports bio­di­ver­sity while pro­vid­ing ci­ti­zens with a place to re­lax and ap­pre­ci­ate na­ture.

Gail­lar­dia blooms from July to Oc­to­ber. It’s a great plant for xeriscapes (drought-tol­er­ant land­scapes). Once es­tab­lished, it’s even tol­er­ant of clay soil and bees go crazy for it.

The gar­den uses na­tive plants and sus­tain­able land­scap­ing to pro­vide ci­ti­zens with a place to re­lax and ap­pre­ci­ate na­ture.

En­sur­ing the gar­den is beau­ti­ful helps show that eco doesn’t have to be a sac­ri­fice.

Us­ing a pub­lic space to teach peo­ple the value of gar­dens that sup­port bio­di­ver­sity.

Pearly ev­er­last­ing tol­er­ates ev­ery­thing from clay to salt to sand (but not wet feet) and is food for painted lady but­ter­fly lar­vae. It blooms from early Au­gust to when the snow flies.

Par­kettes and other pub­lic spa­ces can be eco-friendly and ed­u­ca­tional.

Plant to sup­port pol­li­na­tors.

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