By the time October arrives Green Dreamers will be winding down their fourth gardening season in Old Ottawa South. When you see them on the sidewalks and in the public garden beds between the bridges, they will be (most likely) pulling up the dried remnants of milkweed and sunflowers, cutting back some rather thick and reedy perennial growth, raking dried leaves, filling brown bags, ruminating over what went well and what didn’t, and sharing with each other and passers-by bits of information and suggestions for the next growing season in 2018.
It’s been a rather wet summer and for most gardeners there just hasn’t been enough sun! May set a new record of 176 millimeters of what seemed like continuous rain compared to an average downfall of 83 mm. In June no records were broken but we had more rain than usual with an average temperature of 17 degrees C. July was the wettest month on record with almost 250 mm of rain, compared to an average of 89 mm. Not once, during the whole month of July, did we reach 30 degrees C!
Nonetheless, despite the absence of sun and after the drought of 2016 this wet summer has been bit of a godsend for Green Dreamers. There was no need for watering schedules, nor did Green Dreamers have to worry about the survival of new perennial transplants. Instead, like many gardeners, they decided to adapt to the wet conditions by transplanting as much as possible especially in public beds where earlier transplants had failed to take root.
Another bonus for Green Dreamers this season was a continuous supply of perennials for transplanting. In response to a plea online and in OSCAR, residents responded generously. Many simply stopped to ask what was needed or to describe what they had to offer when they saw Green Dreamers on Wednesday & Saturday mornings digging & weeding in roadside lots. Others emailed recounting garden stories, what they had successfully grown for years and what they now must divide or separate. You may notice, for example, that there are many more hostas in the neighourhood and that we are actively creating hosta gardens and alcoves. This is one perennial that is hardy and grows quite beautifully under trees and in shade.
Green Dreamers felt particularly fortunate when one resident with a rather large and mature garden offered a diverse range and quantity of perennials to dig and transplant throughout the planting season. This generous gift not only helped multiply existing beds but allowed Green Dreamers to concentrate their volunteer energy on composting, mulching and transplanting without the pressure of looking for a healthy supply of plants once the beds were ready.
Over the last several years Green Dreamers have been observing the changes to each of the garden beds; what grows in one lot, does not necessarily grow in another, what looks like shade in the morning under a healthy oak tree is often a hot spot in the late afternoon, what grew readily the year before, doesn’t reappear long after Spring has passed. And so as you may have noticed, the beds change from season to season. It’s simply a matter of observing what grows best in any one of the 12 or more gardens that Green Dreamers maintain and repeating what works.
This season, Green Dreamers are particularly delighted with the results of their composting. For the last couple of years they’ve been driving to the City’s Trail Road site for a truckload of compost to spread on garden beds that have been neglected for over a decade. This year, thanks to plenty of rainfall and compost, the hydrangea bushes at the corner of Grove & Bank and at Glen are a lush thick green with numerous blossoms. The Japanese Lilac trees on the SE side of Sunnyside & Bank actually flowered and the grasses that did survive are taller and thicker. Even the soil itself is so much easier to turn.
Thank you to all the Green Dreamers that made this season count. Gardening for some is one of life’s sweetest pleasures; the pleasure of a garden, however, knows no bounds and it’s giving is often silent. Thank you to the generosity of so many OOS gardeners, residents and passersby. It’s been a wonderful season.
Stay tuned for more information and future gardening plans at oldottawasouth.ca.