Volunteer Opportunities 

Waiver Form

Summer sessions: Invasive Species Removal (aka Weed Whacking)

June 25, July 9 and 23, Aug. 13 and 27

10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Location for July 9: Site 10A at the Bloor St./High Park Ave. entrance Please go directly to the site. there is NO Boulevard Beds group this time.

Location for other sessions: Meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant

The Targets: Garlic mustard, hedge parsley, ragweed, tall sweet white clover, and more!

For your protection, please dress as per the photo below, long sleeves and pants, closed shoes and socks, a hat and bring water and sunscreen. We will supply tools and gloves. Pingg invitation to current session

Although our native savannah plants require less water than others when established, we may be watering our planting sites if required. Urban Forestry has a "Rainbird" tank of water that we use to fill watering cans. We really hope it won't be necessary and that all of the plants in the park will be replenished naturally.

Maintenance aka weeding is as important as planting and equally rewarding. Once the weeds are removed the native plants have room to grow, display their beauty and do their work providing food and shelter for wildlife.

We will be working in our restoration sites weeding and monitoring the growth of native plants in the site. The Boulevard Beds group will also be working to update our demonstration garden.

We have a number of restoration areas where work has been going on for a number of years, including the Sculpure Garden site, the All-Star site, Site 10A near Bloor Street and The Tablelands (behind the Grenadier Restaurant).

The main suspects in High Park are Garlic Mustard, Hedge Parsley, Himalayan Balsam, Oriental Bittersweet, Ragweed, Sweet White Clover, Queen Anne's Lace, Motherwort, Burdock etc. Dog Strangling Vine is being handled by Urban Forestry.

It is really amazing how our group can make such a difference in one morning.

For more information on Restoration work Planting Native Species and Ecological Restoration. Of course there is also the ever-popular Invasive Plant Species

Steve Smith has generously provided us with a copy of his presentation to the High Park Stewards on Feb. 24, 2013. This is an excellent practical resource guide.Management of Invasive Species in Toronto Parks

On the updated Ontario noxious weed list are: common barberry, dog-strangling vine, European buckthorn, bull thistle, Canada thistle, wild carrot, Colt’s foot dodder, goat’s beard, Johnson grass, knapweed, nodding thistle, poison hemlock, poison ivy, proso millet, ragweed, yellow rocket, Russian thistle, Scotch thistle, sow thistle, cypress spurge, leafy spurge, tuberous vetchling, giant hogweed.


Spring Planting - Sunday, June 11


Meet us behind the new Nature Centre Forest School (375 Colborne Lodge Drive) at 10:30 am. Tools provided. Please bring water, a hat, and cover your arms and legs. Please wear socks and closed shoes as well. Full Pingg Invite

The Sculpture Garden site is one of our most iconic black oak savannah restoration areas in the park. Map to Sculpture Garden site

We hope to plant many, grasses and shrubs so lots of hands are needed. Savannah Plants

For our hands-on work, all Stewards need to sign a City waiver document once a year. To save time at the sessions please print and fill out these 2 pages prior to coming. We will also have them on site. Enter the dates as 12 months From Jan 1, 2017 To Dec. 31, 2017

Spring 2016 planting Group
June 12, 2016
Plants originate in the Native Plant Greenhouse
June 12, 2016


Garlic Mustard Busting May 28, 2017

10:30 am to 12:30 pm, rain or shine (not during lightning storms)

The High Park Stewards have been removing Garlic Mustard from a number of sites within the park for many years. Protocols on how best to control GM are changing all the time and we are always upgrading our skills.

We are able to notice a real positive effect from our work but there is still lots to do.

As many people as possible are needed as there is no end of this plant in High Park. Full Pingg Invite

Meet us in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 am. Tools provided. Please bring water, a hat, and cover your arms and legs.

The Boulevard Beds group will also be working on our demonstration gardens located on the perimeter of the Grenadier Restaurant. A few people are needed to join them.

The Biodiversity and Education Awareness Network BEAN has excellent information on keeping this species from further damaging our forests.

Also see:



Garlic Mustard is an extremely aggressive invasive plant in woodland areas. Not only does it crowd out almost every other type of plant but is has an allelopathic agent that hinders their growth. Once removed native species can be planted to restore some biodiversity. Areas where GM has been removed need to be monitored and tended for at least 5 years as there is a strong seedbank and root system left behind.

Garlic Mustard can have very deep roots
removal early in the season is much easier
Garlic Mustard
yes, it does smell like garlic and mustard

Native Plant Sale

Sunday, May 7th, 2017, 11am to 2pm

The sale will take place in front of the Greenhouse, off Centre Street on Greenhouse Road (see map). In order to have plants for everyone to enjoy, large orders will be available only after 1:00 from the remaining stock.

Volunteers will start setting up at 9:30am. Take down is between 2 and 3 pm. Please sign a City Waiver Form and bring it with you.


Cash only. Parking is VERY limited at the Grenadier Restaurant. Please use transit, walk or bike.

The Wednesday May 3, evening Plant Prep session has been cancelled (not needed)

Native Plant Sale, May 7 this webpage has photos and more information.

Map to Native Plant Sale and Greenhouse

Plant Sale Poster for 2017 #1 8.5x11(pdf)

Please help us by printing this and putting up posters where you think people will appreciate it.

List of available plants - 2017 (pdf)

Plant Photos brochure (pdf) Plants at the sale are subject to change based on availability at that time. Please note that this is legal size, 8.5x14". (designed by Lisa Kemp)

This plant sale supports the work of the High Park Stewards and native plant restoration in High Park.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Greenbelt in Toronto: Ravines, Water, and Smart Growth

Speakers: Felix Whitton and Erica Woods

View Pingg invitation

Directions (1st light S. from Keele Subway)

10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Howard Park Tennis Club, 430 Parkside Drive M6R 2Z3.

12 years after its creation, Ontario's Greenbelt is growing to include urban river valleys across the region. In Toronto these include the Don, Humber, and Rouge Rivers, and Morningside and Etobicoke Creeks. These green-blue corridors provide critical connections for water and wildlife, and between urban and rural residents.

They will become increasingly important places as our region attempts to cope with the impacts of climate change while accommodating an estimated 2.8 million new residents by 2031. Join the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation as we try and unravel what all this means for Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.

New GreenBelt book (some will be available for $25 at the talk) and Friends of the GreenBelt


Erica Woods, Communications Manager

Erica joined the Friends of the Greenbelt in spring 2016, with over 5 years of communications experience in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, she was at Toronto City Hall in the office of Councillor Paula Fletcher working to build a green, inclusive and vibrant city. full bio

Felix Whitton, Senior Program and Engagement Lead

Felix joined the Foundation in November 2013. Originally from the UK, he brings with him more than five years’ experience in philanthropy, international conservation and ecological research. full bio

Sunday April 9, 2017

Nursery and Boulevard Beds Spring Maintenance

View Pingg invitation,


10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant

We plan to be doing a cleanup in the Boulevard Beds and in the Nursery, cutting down winter's growth and raking to uncover the plants that have survived the winter.

At the Nursery, please use the East Gate, the one near the green Stewards shed.

The Boulevard Beds are getting an exciting make-over this year. The group will be working in front of the Grenadier Restaurant parking lot uncovering the existing plants, removing old stalks and transplanting new native plants from the Nursery if weather allows.

All tools will be provided, but dress in layers and be prepared for muddy ground as the temperature is unpredictable.

Please bring anything you may wish to drink or snack on with you as there is no kitchen available.

Getting a jump on spring cleaning
Spring 2014
There's lots of hands needed in the Nursery
Spring 2014
Native plants awaken in the Boulevard Beds
April 22, 2012
Stewards Cleanup and Transplanting
be part of the Boulevard Bed redesign
Stewards work in rain or shine
April 10, 2011
April is for planting in the Boulevard Beds
April 22, 2012

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Gardening with Native Plants

Acclaimed author and native plant advocate Lorraine Johnson will show us ways to connect our own gardens with High Park by growing native plants, and best practices and growing techniques.

View Pingg invitation


10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Howard Park Tennis Club, 430 Parkside Drive M6R 2Z3.

Speaker: Lorraine Johnson

Lorraine will bring copies to purchase of 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants ($26.95), City Farmer ($20 ) and some big encyclopedic gardening books she recently edited ($40).

There is a biography and list of books on her publisher's Douglas & McIntyre website. http://www.douglas-mcintyre.com/author/lorraine-johnson-2. See longer biography below photos.

Douglas & McIntyre and Good Reads books by Lorraine Johnson

One of many of her books on this topic
Published March 1st 2001 by Whitecap Books
Add some native plants to your own garden
Black Oak Savannah plants 2015


Lorraine Johnson is the author of numerous books on environmental issues and gardening. Former president of the North American Native Plant Society, her areas of expertise include gardening with native plants, urban agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and urban forest protection.

Some of the books she’s written include: The New Ontario Naturalized Garden; Grow Wild!; Green Future; The Real Dirt (which she co-authored with Mark Cullen); Tending the Earth; and City Farmer. A new edition of her book 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants has just been published.

Along with the books she has written, Lorraine is also the Canadian editor of the What Plant Where Encyclopedia; Garden Plants and Flowers: A-Z Guide to the Best Plants for your Garden; Canadian Gardener's Guide; and The Natural Treasures of Carolinian Canada.

She regularly teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, edits the magazine Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly, and is a Patron of the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Lorraine lives in Toronto, where she is active in the community garden movement and the effort to legalize backyard hens.


Sunday, March 12, 2016

Transplanting in the Greenhouse

View Pingg invitation, Directions


10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Meet at the High Park Greenhouse, Greenhouse Road

DST: Please set clocks ahead 1 hour on Sat. night.

For all current Stewards by invite

Greenhouse work is very popular, but due to space limitations we must restrict the number of participants to those who are currently on our email list.

It's finally time to begin the seeding process and transplant the seedlings that have been growing over the winter in the greenhouse. These will be used for plantings in different parks and for our native plant sale. Due to the cold weather please meet us in the main greenhouse first and we will go to the cold frame if necessary. All tools will be provided, but dress in layers as the temperature is unpredictable.

Please bring anything you may wish to drink or snack on with you as there is no kitchen available.


For more information on planting for restoration projects. See page 20 in particular for growing techniques: - Planting the Seed (pdf) Environment Canada

Getting a jump on spring
Some of these plants may be available at our native plant sale
Repotting the new seedlings
These are started early from seeds collected in the park

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Biological Control Programs for Invasive Plants

W.D. (Bill) McIlveen will speak on the introduction of insects, and sometimes plant diseases, to control invasive plant species

Sometimes they work, but sometimes there are complicating factors...examples include purple loosestrife (right).

View Pingg invitation


10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Howard Park Tennis Club, 430 Parkside Drive M6R 2Z3.

Speaker: W.D. McIlveen

W.D. (Bill) McIlveen has been involved in Ontario’s ecological land classification, rare and introduced species studies, terrestrial toxicology projects, the Breeding Bird Atlas, and the Ontario Tree Atlas. After a career with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, he served on the executive of the Field Botanists of Ontario and the Toronto Entomological Association, among other organizations. He is currently working on a new and comprehensive Flora of Halton.

Articles on this topic

Purple loosestrife beetles used as a bio-control, 2013, River News, Wisconsin

Ontario Invading Species Awareness Program

Common invasive species in High Park

Garlic Mustard
Dog-Strangling Vine aka Pale Swallow Wort
related to milkweed, poisonous to Monarchs
Asian Bittersweet up close
High Park September 2010
Hedge Parsley
A problem all summer
Himalayan Balsam
one of the prettier invasives we remove in mid summer
Common Buckthorn
a very invasive shrub in wooded areas

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Seed Cleaning in the Greenhouse

for Active Stewards

View Pingg invitation TBA

Greenhouse Directions

10:30 am to 12:30 pm

High Park Greenhouse, Greenhouse Road

By Invite - Updated: the session is full. We work even in snow, it's inside.

Seed Cleaning in the Greenhouse is very popular, but due to space limitations we are only sending invites to those on our email list, especially to those who have braved the elements and assisted in planting, invasive species removal, at our native plant sale, or are working on special projects. This special activity is a benefit for helping out during the past year.

RSVP to invitation is required.

Seed Cleaning is the separation of the usually tiny seeds from the dried flower heads, collected in High Park in the last year. Planting these separated seeds has proven to be very successful in cultivating as many rare and limited back oak savannah plants as possible.


For more information on using seeds in restoration projects. See page 23 in particular for seed cleaning: - Planting the Seed (pdf) Environment Canada

Some low-tech tools of the trade
Greenhouse, Winter 2014
Separating the seeds from the flower pod/head
Butterfly Milkweed is one of the easier seeds to separate

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Content last modified on July 29, 2017, at 05:46 PM EST