The Chinatown BIA has for years provided funding for the original Somerset community garden at Somerset/Empress. Funding replenishes mulch, buys a hose or some plants, etc. They also funded a whack of tulip planting in all the streetscaping planters near Booth.
When the City rebuilt Somerset a few years back, they provided a really nice planter near Booth, with two trees. Alas, almost all the tangly shrubby things on the bottom died the first winter. But, they are guaranteed ! So the landscapers returned last year and replanted. Only to see them all die another time last winter. The City only gives us two whacks, after that, the planter is left naked. The pic below shoes how few plants survived, between the dying back tulip stems:
Community Gardeners to the Rescue ! The Chinatown BIA generously paid for some bags of topsoil, bags of mulch, and 27 perennials (that’s about $500 for those who like to count such things). First, we tore out the dead:
Then placed the new plants in a pleasing arrangement:
People planting things attracts all sorts of passers-by who stopped to stare, or talk. Someone brought us Tim Horton coffees. The customers of the adjacent hair salon crowded the window:
Mulch finished it off:
While the transformation of a city blight zone to a garden is satisfying, there is a bit more work to do. In periods of drought, it is advisable to water the plants. None of the adjacent buildings had an outside tap, so we’ve been driving up giant office-cooler-bottles of tap water to keep them watered. Once established, ie next year, they’ll have to be tough enough to survive alone, which is one of the factors we consider when choosing the plants.
The community garden on Arthur is near a church hall and it gets watered from there.
The Preston BIA also sponsors tulip planting and the community gardens in Little Italy. That BIA put out wooden planters of tulips in the spring; this week they are putting out planters of autumn chrysanthemums.
It is a real delight to see community partnerships like this: the city provides the space (or the community just takes it, in which case its more akin to Guerilla Gardening); the merchants, through their BIA, some money; and the resident volunteers do the labour.
Both Taggart and Fanto have allowed us to remove plants from their sites slated for redevelopment.
[astute readers may be wondering about the Somerset viaduct planters with all their weeds and dead plants, but that is a whole ‘nother story for another time]