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Green Dreamers Update: Little by Little

brian ure As we move into October a familiar anticipation takes hold. After a long, hot and humid summer, we find ourselves adapting once again to cooler temperatures and observing ever more keenly how our daylight is receding, how the sun arrives more slowly and leaves that much quicker.

With cooler evenings and more temperate days, gardening is often at its most pleasurable during September and October. There is less to do in the way of turning soil, weeding, composting, mulching, and watering and more in the way of trimming, thinning, transplanting, and planning.

This past September the Green Dreamers of Old Ottawa South transplanted perennials from Judy Flavin’s and Peter McCourt’s side garden on Rosedale Avenue to the public garden beds at Sunnyside & Bank. After a summer of abnormally dry weather, it was difficult for new growth to take root and to flourish at these two sites. With the help and generosity of neighbors like Judy and Peter, however, we are once again hopeful that these two beds will expand into the green buffers this busy intersection needs.

And much to our delight there are more transplants waiting in the wings so to speak, preferring to "winter" in their current locations and to move early in 2017. The generosity of fellow gardeners never ceases to amaze us! As Green Dreamers we continue to be optimistic about working with neighbours and local businesses to build a greener, lovelier Old Ottawa South.

A Lot on the Go

At the writing of this article Green Dreamers are preparing to plant hundreds of bulbs up and down Bank Street, many acquired from the National Capital Commission and over a 100 from a private donor. Be sure to check out next month’s OSCAR for an update on this 2017 initiative to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

In June, Green Dreamers assumed responsibility for the garden beds outside the South Branch Library. Respecting the traditional planting patterns of John Lubrun who retired after 30 years of public service (see the OSCAR June 2016), Green Dreamers weeded, pruned and faithfully watered under the watchful eyes of Christine & Mike Bradley who coordinate our activities directly with the library. I think we can all agree that the garden was spectacular this summer, first came the poppies and then the gigantic sunflowers, some over 8 feet tall. Sublime!

Over the last 10 years our OOS garden beds have had very little routine maintenance. In order to sustain healthy growth, the soil needs to be replenished and so a big part of our work this last two years has been to turn, weed and compost. In early May, Green Dreamers spread compost at Glen, Grove, Ossington & Cameron. A special thank you to Barbara and her husband Tom who drove their Dodge Ram to the City’s Trail Site and to Collin, Catherine, Kristina, and Brian who helped shovel the surprisingly light, dry compost into buckets and then up and over into the back of the Dodge Ram. With two to a bucket, the lifting and dumping was manageable and not nearly as heavy as one might imagine. Total cost for a pick-up load (925 kg) was $28.50. 

By early June, the City of Ottawa delivered two truckloads of mulch for garden beds at Sunnyside, Glen, Grove, Ossington, and Cameron. There’s something magnificent about watching Green Dreamers shovel, wheelbarrow, and spread mulch! We do it with gusto and resolve, each of us doing what we can, according to our ability and levels of energy. There is something energizing about spreading mulch to prevent the encroachment of weeds and to retain soil moisture. It seems to signal the end of one stage and the beginning of another.

There isn’t enough room here to mention the many characters breathing life into the "Green Dreamers." There’s Camilla, a tireless gardener and one of our most optimistic and cheerful co-workers; Brian Tansey whose enthusiasm and energy continues to inspire; Jill who shows up like clockwork, digs without gloves and sometimes in flip-flops; there’s Nora & Jo who turn up in a "pinch"; Kristina, Joan, Martha, Sarah Jane, Sue, Tim and more. You, all of you, make the Green Dreamers work. Thank you.

The Sunnyside Rain Gardens

On June 22, 2016, Brian Ure (our very own Green Dreamer horticulturist) provided a detailed overview of the Sunnyside Rain Gardens to the City of Ottawa. This overview included an inventory of plants currently standing in the gardens, possible alternatives to species not doing so well and the request for a status report regarding the contractor’s commitments for the summer.

Due to summer holidays, feedback from the City was sporadic and by September it looked as if the rain gardens were coming along fine, although in need of plant restoration in certain pockets.

Recently, however, we learned that "some adjustments" to the grading of the rain gardens are necessary to meet the City’s accessibility guidelines. More specifically, the sloping of the rain gardens adjacent to the sidewalk is a bit too steep. The bottoms of the rain gardens need to be raised to allow for a flatter slope from the sidewalk to the side.

"This will mean removal of the plantings, the placement of some additional biomedia and replanting (including replacement of any plants that didn’t make it)."

The Green Dreamers are committed to working with the City to make this pilot project a success. We hope to have more news on the rain gardens in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.