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HIGH PARK NATURE is a joint project of the High Park Natural Environment Committee and High Park Stewards. We welcome your feedback, suggestions, articles and photos. Please contact us at mail@highparknature.org

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: Most of the photos on this site were contributed by local photographers and taken in High Park. Please do not copy or reproduce them without permission. If you would like to contribute photos (low resolution) for this website, please contact us at mail@highparknature.org

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Volunteer Opportunities 

High Park Stewards – 2011 Sessions

See also High Park Stewards

Read the 2011 VSP Newsletter summarizing the year's activities.

Read about the NANPS 2011 Paul McGaw Memorial Conservation Award to recognize the work of High Park Stewards and High Park Nature, October 22, 2011

Summer/Fall VSP Brochure

Stewardship Sessions Schedule 2011 (pdf), note Open and Core sessions Sessions are subject to change based on weather and need. See this webpage for updates on the current session.

Photos about us are in SNAP: July 10 , Aug 14, Sept 11, Sept 25, November 2, November 27

See The Grid, October 27th edition Buckthorn Removal (pdf) http://www.thegridto.com/neighbourhoods/high-park/

Note: This photo is not in the on-line version.



Buckthorn Busting #1, #2, #3 and Pot Luck Lunch

Sunday October 23, November 13 and November 27 2011

View PINGG invitation to this session

We've made great progress at our site but there's still lots of buckthorn for everyone to have one last go at it.

The last session of 2011 on November 27th will be followed by a Pot Luck Lunch in the Greenhouse. RAIN or SHINE.

We will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 and go to the our site from there. Please be on time as the site is determined by need at the time of the session so you won't know where to find us. Loppers, gloves and other tools are provided.

Those of you on our email list can RSVP to the the Pingg invitation and check the pot luck feature if you need ideas on what to bring. If you would like to be added to the list please email stewards@highparknature.org.

More on Buckthorn: This highly invasive shrub forms dense even-aged thickets that often cause an overall reduction in the establishment of shade tolerant native shrubs and herbs. It rapidly produces seeds early in the season that are highly viable and germinate quickly.

European Buckthorn on Invasive Plants Atlas and European Buckthorn (pdf) and HPN Invasive Plants

Buckthorn Busting is for everyone!
photo from Nov. 13, 2011
Is it Buckthorn or Black Cherry?
sometimes its hard to tell them apart
A lesson in Buckthorn identification
Urban Forestry staff provide the expertise and equipment
We collected at least 3 truckfulls
photo from October 23, 2011
Many hands collect a lot of Buckthorn
photo from October 2010
Buckthorn plants produce a huge amount of seeds
Let's catch them before they spread

View PINGG invitation to this session


Seed Collecting in the Nursery, Sunday October 9, 2011

This session is a special treat as it is in the High Park Greenhouse Native Plant Nursery, which is not open to the public. We will be collecting a variety of native grasses such as Canada Wild Rye, Little and Big Bluestem, Indian, and Panic Grass. There are also many different types of wildflowers that are ready to harvest for next year.

We will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 and go to the Nursery (off Greenhouse Road where the plant sale is held in spring). Please be on time as the gates are locked and we won't be able to hear you.

See Grasses and Sedges and Planting the Seed, Environment Canada, especially page 23: Seed Collecting Tips.

It takes many seed heads to provide the seeds needed
we will do seed cleaning during the winter
Native grasses are in their prime in October
Wild Rye, Little and Big Bluestem

Boulevard Bed Planting, Sunday September 25, 2011

We had enough plants left over from our last session to work on the redesign of the Boulevard Beds. In a change from our planned session, we will be planting, weeding and generally reworking our demonstration garden so others can appreciate the native plants found in the Black Oak Savannah areas of the park. We will be using plants supplied by the High Park Greenhouse Native Plant Nursery.

We will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30. The Boulevard Beds surround the restaurant parking lot.

See the Boulevard Bed Plant List.

Plants put in now will come up in spring
Volunteers from our Aug. 28 session
We are giving the Beds a new structure
See how species many you can identify

Fall Restoration Site Planting,Sunday Sept. 11, 2011

Fall is an excellent time to plant and we would like to have enough people to split the group in two and have one half do some final touches on the Sculpture Garden and All-Star sites, and the second group will be starting our new location on the slope by the adventure playground. We will be working with Urban Forestry staff using plants supplied by the High Park Greenhouse Native Plant Nursery.

See the Boulevard Bed Plant List.

We will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 and go to our sites from there.

Fall Planting 2010
Plants need about 6 weeks before frost
Fall Plant Palette
Asters and Goldenrods are prime

Boulevard Bed Beautification, Sunday August 28, 2011

The Boulevard Beds are a savannah wildflower demonstration garden located around the perimeter of the parking lot east of the Grenadier Café and Teahouse.

The High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program began planting the Boulevard Beds during the spring of 2001 as a way to show the public what High Park's native plants look like. During each season there are different flowers in bloom. See the Boulevard Bed Plant List.

High Park Steward and Landscape Designer Henny Markus, who is redesigning the gardens is leading this session where we will weed, prune and possibly transplant native black oak savannah species to showcase the beauty of our natural heritage.

See Boulevard Beds for more history and photos of this garden.

We will meet at the site in front of the Grenadier Restaurant parking lot at 10:30.

Boulevard Beds
There are different flowers in bloom every week
We hope some day there will be permanent signs
Sample species of savannah plants

Invasive Species Removal - Himalayan Balsam/Hedge Parsley, Sunday August 14, 2011

One of the prettier invasive plants that we remove can grow over 6 ft. tall in great thickets. It prefers moist areas but can cope with less optimal conditions. One of the frequent companions we find with Himalayan Balsam are RED ANTS. They do bite, which is why you really need to dress properly (e.g. tuck pants into socks, use a neck scarf etc.) as in this photo.

For those who aren't quite as adventurous, we will have alternate invasives to pull, likely Hedge Parsley which is abundant this year and generally don't attract the red ants.

Himalayan Balsam
one of the prettier invasives we remove in mid summer
This plant can grow taller than our Stewards
Proper attire is really needed

See Invasive Plant Species for more info on this and some of our other popular suspects.

We will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 and go from there. If the Welcome Centre is open, they will have our location for late comers.

Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve Restoration Tour, Sunday July 24, 2011

Our core/frequent Stewards group will have a private session with Paula Davies, Chair of the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve Committee who will discuss the process of nature restoration of this site over the past 20 years. It will be very interesting for us to compare our experiences and techniques.

Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve is a 9 hectare natural area in the Don Valley where restoration work began in 1991. The Todmorden Wildflower Preserve is a charitable organization run by volunteers. They conduct plantings, weed control, garbage cleanups, and trail improvements.

For more info on this session see Agenda for Todmorden Tour

For more info on this preserve see Todmorden

Directions: Todmorden (67 Pottery Rd.) is accessible by car from the Bayview extension to Pottery Road, but not from Broadview. By TTC you can walk down the hill from Broadview subway (a few blocks North at Mortimer). see City website - Todmorden for detailed directions and regular visiting hours.


Invasive Species Removal, Sunday July 10, 2011

Tall Sweet White Clover
one of the invasives we remove in early summer

Now that the spring planting has been done in the Sculpure Garden site, we can encourage the growth of the native plants by removing some of the invasive species that compete for space and nutrients. On June 26, when we checked the All-Star site (where the prescribed burn was done in April), we found that there was not much need for weeding there this year, which shows how successful restoration work can be.

There are however lots of other places that need attention. Urban Forestry will determine the exact location and invasives to remove, but we expect that it will be tall sweet white clover. See Invasive Plant Species for more info on this and some of our other popular suspects.

We will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 and go from there. If the Welcome Centre is open, they will have our location for late comers.


Restoration Site Maintenance, Sunday June 26, 2011

Once the weeds have gone
the native plants can flourish

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 (where the prescribed burn was done in April and the return growth is fabulous) and The Tablelands (behind the Grenadier Restaurant).

Maintenace aka weeding is as important as planting and equally rewarding. You can almost feel the native plants applauding as they are freed from the stranglehold of invasives like horseweed and tall sweet white clover.

It is really amazing how a few people can make such a difference in one morning. The site where we will be working is still being determined by Urban Forestry so we will meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 and go from there.

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

Spring Restoration Planting, Sunday June 12, 2011

Planting in the spring of 2010
a lot of planting can be done in a few hours

This will be our fourth planting in the restoration area still known as the Sculpure Garden site, behind the Forest School on the east side of Centre Road near Bloor Street. If you know the location you can go there directly.

Lots of people are needed so bring your friends and family.

Unlike the cultivated gardens in the park, if you didn't know the work that went into this site you would think it was a field of wildflowers and grasses that were always there, which is the point. We hope that we can encourage others to appreciate the beauty and ecological value of these 'wild' places.

For more information on Restoration work see Planting Native Species

For photos of some of the Black Oak Savannah plants see Savannah Plants and Grasses and Sedges

Plants in the right place grow quickly
second year growth
Urban Forestry and Stewards work together
the native plant greenhouse provides the stock


Garlic Mustard Busters, Sunday May 22, 2011

Garlic Mustard Removal 2010
very little is left when GM is removed

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 allopathic 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.

The Biodiversity and Education Awareness Network has an excellent program that we are participating in to help keep this species from further damaging our forests. BEAN

Ontario Invasive Plant Council and for a 5.2 mb pdf on Garlic Mustard

High Park specific invasive plants Invasive Plant Species

Celandine is also removed at this time
a pretty but also invasive plant that accompanies GM
Garlic Mustard
up close and personal

Native Plant Sale, Sunday May 8, 2011

Bees love asters of all kinds
grow some late summer plants for pollinators

11 am to 2 pm in front of the Greenhouse. Cash only.

Help increase the biodiversity of the High Park area by planting these native plants in your garden. This will help feed and shelter wildlife including pollinators that could use some assistance.

In order to provide the most plants for everyone, large orders will only be available after 1:00 pm. Please park at the Grenadier Restaurant. Assistance carrying plants to parking lot will be provided.

Details including flyers, plant lists and photos have been posted at. Native Plant Sale

Also see Plants for more photos of all types of wildflowers, grasses and trees.



Sunday, April 24th: Spring Clean-Up Part 2 - CANCELLED

Cleaning up the Boulevard Beds
uncover what lies beneath

Although we had a great group available last time, the weather forced us to cut our session short so city staff have finished cleaning up the Boulevard Beds. We are also unable to use the greenhouse on Easter Sunday so are cancelling this session.

Our plant sale committee will continue its work for our May 8th sale.

Sunday, April 10th: Spring Clean-Up

10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant and we will go to our sites as a group. The Boulevard Beds surround the Grenadier Restaurant. Tools provided.

We will be cleaning up the Boulevard Beds and/or preparing some of the burn sites (depending on weather and timing of the burn). This is a great time to rake and cut back old growth while seeing the spring buds.


Transplanting in the Greenhouse
a special session for core volunteers

Sunday, March 27: Transplanting in the Greenhouse

10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant and we will go to the native plant Greenhouse as a group. Please be prompt as gates may be locked afterwards.

This session has limited room and is by invitation to core members and frequent VSP volunteers. RSVP to invitation (PINGG) required.

Rootbound plants need our help
Plants are used in the park and for our plant sale
We found a bird's nest last year in a potted tree
If you plant it they will come

Sunday, March 13: Artists Inspired by High Park

Artists in High Park
Bob Yukich

10:30 am to 1:30 pm

Howard Park Tennis Club 430 Parkside Drive S. of Bloor from Keele)

Six artists - three writers (novelist, poet and climate change author) and 3 visual artists (art books, photographer and painter) reflect on how they have been inspired by High Park nature in their artistic endeavours, subject matter and as a place to create. After all the artists present and talk about their work, there will be a short lunch break followed by a panel discussion. Because of the number of speakers, this session will be longer than usual. Although refreshments will be provided, it is recommended that audience members bring their own lunch if they wish.

Biographies of the Artists (pdf),

See also Art & Photography and Personal Reflections.

Butterfly Milkweed
explore the healing properties of native plants

Sunday, February 27: Circle of Life: Plant Kingdom

10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Howard Park Tennis Club 430 Parkside Drive S. of Bloor from Keele)

VSP is honoured to have Elder Andrew Wesley present “Circle of Life: Plant Kingdom”, a First Nations teaching of traditional medicinal and other uses of plants in both healing practices and as part of the spiritual connection to the earth and all its creatures.

Elder Andrew Wesley was born on the hunting grounds of his Cree ancestors in James Bay, Northern Ontario. Although he attended residential school, he learned traditional ways from the Elders who also taught the importance of the environment and Creation Spirituality concept. He now lives in Toronto and provides spirituality leadership to the Aboriginal community through his work including his position as an Elder and Counselor at Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre.

Seed cleaning stations in the Greenhouse
a special session for core volunteers

Sunday, February 13: Seed Cleaning in the Greenhouse

10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Meet in front of the Grenadier Restaurant and we will go to the Greenhouse as a group.

This session has very limited room (20 people) and is by invitation to core members and frequent VSP volunteers. RSVP to invitation (PINGG) required.

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

Separating the seeds from the flower pod/head
Butterfly Milkweed Seeds

Elder Garry Sault
photo courtesy of Garry Sault

Sunday, January 23: Myths, Legends and Land Claims

10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Howard Park Tennis Club, 430 Parkside Drive. (south of Bloor from Keele)

Elder Garry Sault, band member of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation will be presenting traditional story-telling. He is a marvellous storyteller. The legends and myths are not only highly entertaining and fascinating but educational as some stories are a reminder of the medicinal benefits of plants. The wildflowers, shrubs, trees and grasses of the Black Oak Savannah would have once been common knowledge to First Nations as to their medical, edible and other uses.

Mississaugas of New Credit, part of the great Ojibwa Nation, inhabited much of the Golden Horseshoe, including Toronto. In 1805, the land including Toronto and surrounding areas was `sold` for 10 shillings. This past October there was a historic settlement of 145 million in compensation of the woefully inadequate original purchase payment. There will be a film and discussion about the claims settlement.

Sunday, January 9: Join the Evolution of the VSP

We are holding a meeting and get-together for those who may wish to become core volunteers at the Howard Park Tennis Club (430 Parkside Drive) at 10:30 am to discuss what most interests you, how you would like to apply your skills and involvement in potential VSP committees. You will also have the opportunity to learn about training possibilities and to share ideas. See section above for details.

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