Garden Scene

The Scarboro Garden Scene

Trees: past and future pleasures

We can look at Sharon Avenue and Shelbourne Street to reflect on planning – and tree planting. On these boulevards William Reader’s influence is still apparent. He was in charge of parks and other city projects a century ago when the boulevard plantings of poplars and lilac bushes were designed in 1929 and 1930. Shelbourne is also home to some fine old birch trees.

Eventually the favourite trees in our gardens, parks and boulevards pass on - "What dreames may come, When we haue shufflel'd off this mortall [and earthly?] coile, Must giue vs pawse."  Going back almost 400 years towards Shakespeare’s time, in some climates we can see the “everlasting” results of a well planted tree, as in The Oxford Botanic Gardens in England - watch out for parking restrictions! Some trees there were planted then – 1645, in the case of a yew with fabulous bark - and are still healthy and attractive: if you visit in the fall, look out for Japanese anemones in bloom that could flower here in late September.

Sad though we may be it is important that we plan for tree replacement, as the City does with plans to renovate our urban forests. Our hundred year old poplars in the city have to be replaced – they can be ugly and a safety hazard, so they have to be removed and composted. It is easy not to recognize when action is necessary as we live day by day with our trees and do not see signs of decay. Not only decay but physical damage can exacerbate a problem – for instance if a branch has been supported by neighbouring trees and that support is removed, the branch may not be strong enough to survive on its own. With pyramidal poplars/aspens, a subordinate branch may veer away from the vertical and be prone to breakage due simply to the weight of snow, or even its mass of leaves and wood. Some conifers suffer from the same problem, especially if there are two “leaders”.

If we want trees in your yard we have to plan ahead, maybe even arrange planting of replacement shrubs or trees a little outside the canopy of the old tree. Envisioning your yard ten or twenty or sixty years into the future is going to be challenging, but dreams are essential for the health of our communities. 

Glynn Wright – with thanks to Scarboro residents    

  

Glynn Wright 

403-680-8289

 


Anemone Honorine Jobert



Birch bark, Shelbourne Street



English Yew



Yew, Taxus baccata (planted in 1645)



 


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