In 2023, the church garden and its maintenance team went through a major transition, as both Matt and Sally took a well-earned rest from it and a new team started to find its way to care for the colourful garden initiated and developed by Sally and Matt over many years.
Over the course of the spring/summer and fall period, new and returning volunteers, both from the congregation and the wider community, came along to help the transition.
The contribution of the Church’s office staff should also be acknowledged, for invaluable help with communications, and stepping in to help with watering and clean up when required. We also acknowledge the following donations:
- Mulch – thanks to Paul and Jerry
- New fence along the “Bus Stop Garden” – thanks again to Jerry
- Garden equipment, thanks to Sally, – Many new plants, thanks to Cathy
- Regular Maintenance: This was the major job for the year , there are a lot of beautiful plants , almost all of which need attention , and which when properly attended to lead to a lovely result. To choose just one example , the picture to the right shows one of the Roses of Sharon in full bloom is late summer. But, every one of those branches , on all four plants, has since required pruning, and the resulting cut off branches cleaned up and disposed of.
- Bus Stop Garden: This is the south-east corner near where people wait for the Main Street bus. Its location makes it vulnerable to being trampled. Cathy and other volunteers re-planted the area with a number of native species that like dry, sunny spots; Jerry’s contribution was to install a new fence to protect the plantings
- Gray Goldenrod (used by 120 species of caterpillar as a host plant) and an important late season food source for bumblebees and Monarchs on their journey South.
- Pale Purple and Purple Coneflower (host plant to checkerspot butterfly larva)
- Lance leaf Coreopsis (host plant to checkerspot butterfly larva)
- Hoary Vervain (host plant to Common Buckeye butterfly larva)
- New England Aster (host plant of the Pearl Crescent and several checkerspot butterfly larva)
- Matt’s Yucca plant (a non-native, exotic, but not invasive plant)
3. Beach United Garden Tour – The Bus Stop Garden and two other locations have a post with a QR code, which connects to a section of the Church website with a description of the plants in that part of the garden. Post #1 is in the area outside the office window. Clicking on the QR code brings up information on the hop tree, an endangered native Ontario species which Sally originally planted many years ago. It is now thriving and for the first time last summer was in full flower for a couple of weeks.
2023/24 Winter Planning
- Sign-up sheets: A winter task just getting started is to plan the maintenance tasks with a timetable for garden activities and setting dates. This is a model used by other community gardens – sign-up sheets shared in early Spring, refreshed on an ongoing basis as needed and remaining open for people to drop in.
- Seeking additional resources: One possibility being actively followed up in conjunction with gardens in other Toronto ridings is participating in a “caterpillar count”, a Canada Summer Jobs project. Beach United has signed up for requesting funding for 2 students who would work in the garden for short period of time during the summer of 2024.
Hopes and plans for 2024
Along with regular maintenance, a key objective for 2024 will be to undertake projects that will help make the garden more self-sustaining using native plants where possible and encouraging plants which enhance insect and bird life.
Related to this, and of particular importance, is to continue efforts addressing the problem of non-native invasive species in our garden. An example is along the west wall of the parking lot where invasive Garlic Mustard will be replaced by shrubs like Fragrant Sumac, Northern Bush Honeysuckle, and Goldenrod, all of which have the added benefit of requiring less pruning.
The Fragrant Sumac is one of the plants to replace the Burning Bush along the Wineva Avenue sidewalk by the car-charging station. Others in the area include Purple Lovegrass and Little Bluestem. The Fragrant Sumac will put on an amazing fall show, support our native wildlife, and as a suckering shrub, will spread without requiring a lot of pruning.
Respectfully submitted to Beach United Church Board – Feb 3, 2024,
Cathy Byrne & Hastings Withers
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer with our Gardening Group, please fill out our volunteer form. No experience is required! You may also stay tuned on our social media channels (Instagram & Facebook) and website for future meeting dates, and drop-in at any time!