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





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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.


Volunteer Opportunities 

Volunteer Stewardship Program - Sessions


High Park Stewards meet on the 2nd & 4th Sundays of each month, rain or shine.






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Seed Collecting and Fall Site Maintenance - Sunday, September 28

We will be collecting seeds from native plants that will be used for our own program and in other parks in the city. We will be working in the native plant nursery and possibly in other locations based on what is available. If we have a large enough group we can also do some maintenance work on one of our restoration sites.

Some of the later summer flowers may still be flowering including Black-Eyed Susan, Cup Plant, Woodland Sunflower, Verbena and there is a beautiful display of grasses like Big and Bittle Bluestem, Goldenrod and Asters (esp. Sky Blue and New England)

Meet us in front of the Grenadier Restaurant at 10:30 am. and we will go together to the site. A small group may also be working on the Boulevard Beds. We meet rain or shine, but not during lightning storms.

Although we have removed a lot of it, if you are allergic to ragweed, please take an anti-histamine before the session.

We are working outside and you need to keep yourself safe and healthy. Although planting is more "friendly" than invasive species removal, there still may be ants and bees, thorns and plants that can irritate the skin. Please wear long pants, long sleeves. Wear shoes and socks, not sandals. Seeds can easily stick to non smooth fabrics so avoid fleece. Bring water, a hat, sunblock and a snack to keep your energy up. Gloves and tools will be provided.

Also see:

Chris is collecting seeds from Big Bluestem
September 23, 2012
The Nursery is like an enchanted woodland
August 2009
Cardinal Flowers are both in bloom and ready to pick
September 23, 2012
Elyse and Kim are transplanting for next year
September 23, 2012
Boulevard Bed maintenance is ongoing
August 28, 2011
Nadia, Vera and Daria work in the Boulevard Beds
September 23, 2012

Invasive Species we have come to know very well


Monarch Butterfly larvae can only survive on the Milkweed family of plants. This includes Common Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed, all found in High Park. DSV aka Pale Swallow-wort is similar in structure (see the pods) but when Monarch mistakenly lay eggs on them, the larvae die when they eat it. DSV is a major concern as it is extremely aggressive and will grow back multiple plants if some of the root is left behind when pulled.

Monarch Butterfly on Butterfly Milkweed
Precious, not invasive
Dog Strangling Vine
July 23, 2014
Proper dress for all outdoor activities
We really want you to be protected
A native plant but still aggressive
Hedge Parsley
A problem all summer
Himalayan Balsam
Pretty and pink but it takes over
Asian Bittersweet up close
High Park September 2010
Asian Bittersweet in a forest
note the vertical and horizontal growth
Stewards to the rescue
Sculpture Garden site
Garlic Mustard is waiting for us
The Black Oak ravine has much less than before

Upcoming Sessions

Draft schedule for 2014, subject to change

The Elite Squad will work Sun and Tues mornings, from late April to mid June, and in the fall, Sept and Oct removing invasive species like garlic mustard. Contact if you would like to be an Elite.

High Park Stewards Facebook Invasive Squad info

The Boulevard Bed Squad will be determining their schedule, with monthly maintenance of the beds spring to fall. Contact

Outdoor sessions are dependent on weather and growing conditions and what is determined to be the greatest need for our volunteer efforts.

September 28: Seed collection (with UF/Jocie Crew)

October 26: Buckthorn busting #1 (with UF Crew)

November 9: Buckthorn busting #2 (with UF Crew)

November 23: Buckthorn busting #3 and pot luck (with UF Crew)


2013 in Review

In 2013, much of our work took place in the Tablelands, a beautiful example of the remnant Black Oak Savannah, which is an endangered ecosystem that needs to be preserved and protected. Both the spring and fall planting events were held in the fenced restoration area just northwest of the Labyrinth. A secondary spring planting was held in the 10A restoration site near Bloor Street.

The Tablelands, which at one time was a mown lawn, now shows promising signs of natural regeneration of red and black oaks, and rebounding populations of native tall grasses such as Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, and Indian Grass, as well as typical savanna wildflowers such as Wild Bergamot, Woodland Sunflower, and Black-eyed Susan, legumes such as Showy Tick Trefoil and Round Headed Bush Clover, and shrubs such as New Jersey Tea, St. Johnís Wort, and Smooth Rose.

Invasive species removed this year include: garlic mustard, tall white sweetclover, hedge parsley and Asiatic bittersweet. Native ragweed was also removed in the Tablelands. This fall over 3 sessions, Common Buckthorn was busted in 7B and 8A.

Over the three planting events, we planted a total of 2,575 plants.

Over the three buckthorn busters events, we removed buckthorn from a total of 8,000m2 in 7B and 8A.

These are huge accomplishments, which help to move us forward in our mission of ecological restoration. Much thanks to all volunteer stewards for an excellent season! Enjoy the holidays and we hope to see you all next year.


Get more involved

If anyone is interested in becoming part of our Steering Committee, a session greeter or working on any special projects including communications and the Boulevard Beds please let me know.

If you have a desire to become more involved and/or expertise in a wide variety of areas that could enhance our group, please see this document Stewards Additional Opportunities (pdf) and let us know how you would like to participate.

Sharon Lovett Chair, High Park Stewards,


Many thanks to all of our volunteers who participate in our program. We've weeded, planted, collected and cleaned seeds, provided a native plant sale, maintained the Boulevard Beds, Sculpture Garden and All-Star sites, removed garlic mustard, hedge parsley, Himalayan Balsam and Buckthorn, and learned and taught each other about the flora and fauna found in the park. We also thank the city staff in Urban Forestry and Horticulture who do this work full time and guide us as we improve our stewardship capabilities. We know that we will have another successful year in 2012 protecting and supporting nature in High Park (and beyond).

TWEETERS WANTED. @highparksteward is looking for more people to help with this project. Tweet directly or you can contact us at

If you would like to be added to the list please email


Special thanks to our Communication team: Aaron Wieland (web and publication postings, and Fleur Careil (Facebook), and to Karen Yukich for starting and maintaining this website.

Special thanks also to Linda Read for organizing the Elite Invasive Squad, Leslie Gooding and Bill Montague for their work with the High Park Resource Group and other activities, to Tanya Aggett for 2013 catering and financial services and in memory of Katarina Marjan who passed away on June 28 for Nature Watch and for public outreach at our native plant sales.

Henny Markus is redesigning and leading a group of special volunteers for planting and weeding the Boulevard Beds native plant garden and has already done a wonderful job of making it look healthy and inspiring. If you are interested in helping with this please email

Other Items and Events of Interest

There are always many thngs happening in the nature community. See Other Groups & Events for upcoming walking tours, presentations and activities of other local environment groups.

New England Aster
grow summer plants for pollinators and beauty


Native Plant Girl

City of Toronto Urban Forestry Info

Evergreen and Brickworks

North American Native Plant Society

NANPS Native Plant database

Garden Jane workshops

Toronto Botanical Gardens

LEAF Native Garden Kits

CWF Wild About Gardening


See also:

What I Like to Do in Winter, Dagmar Baur, Wildflower magazine, 2003

Rare Plants Guidebook

Restoration and Site Restoration

Site Restoration Sculpture Garden Site Restoration 2009 - present
Sculpture Garden Stewards Sept 2009
Sculpture Garden Site
Sculpture Garden Stewards June 2010
Sculpture Garden Site
First a tarp is laid to kill the weeds
Sculpture Garden Site
Plants are grown in the High Park greenhouse
Sculpture Garden Site
Volunteers and Urban Forestry plant (2009)
Sculpture Garden Site
New plants have a chance to thrive
Sculpture Garden Site
Sept. 2009 plants on July 2010
Sculpture Garden Site
Wildlife have a home (Skipper butterfly)
Sculpture Garden Site

High Park Stewards meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month, rain or shine.


About the High Park Stewards (VSP) and 2013 Past Sessions


Follow us on and on High Park Stewards Facebook Group

2013 session dates and draft topics and Printable 2013 Calendar and the Stewards 2013 Brochure

If you would like to be added to the list please email


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Content last modified on September 15, 2014, at 10:30 AM EST