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Another planting added in Cedarvale

28th September: Over 6 years we have now completed 8 plantings in Cedarvale Park. Last Saturday 22nd September we added 150 trees and bushes to our very first planting, on the slope beside the dog park. The weather was pleasantly cool – just right for planting. Volunteer numbers were small  at first, but by 11 am we had 40-50 people. Once again Cheryl Post of Parks was in charge, with 3 other Parks staff to assist. Here is Karen Sun, well known to us as a nature walk leader, now giving a planting demonstration:


Here is the group watching the demo:


This group is listening to instructions from someone off-camera:


Three happy volunteers! In the background you can see the (finally) completed shade structure:


What is this? Someone spotted it right beside the planting area. It is a giant puffball (a form of mushroom):


Another happy volunteer, just plopping a tree into its hole:


This man came out to our planting on the steps up from the arena carpark two years ago. He is with Optimum SBR Canada, a consulting firm. They sent a group of 7-8 people.


Delta Toronto Hotel sent a group of about 10 people. As usual, groups formed the majority of the volunteers and heard about the planting from the city’s web site. There was a group from Amma Canada, part of the worldwide Amma organization. There were several people from our e-mail list and also several neighbourhood families, such as this one:


Unfortunately, the mulch contractor had arrived at the wrong time, when Parks staff were not there, and had left the mulch beside the arena. This meant that it all had to be moved, in one wheelbarrow and many pails, across from the arena to the dog park. Here is Steering Committee member, Ivor, with the same 3 happy volunteers we saw earlier:


This young lad was having a great time helping his Dad with the mulch:


There is a technical term for these things that I cannot remember; they are cardboard, fit neatly around the stem of the plant and the mulch goes on top of them:


Another one is being installed around a white pine at bottom right below:


We were all finished before noon. Thanks to Cheryl and her staff for setting out the plants before our arrival,  instructing us on proper planting techniques and monitoring us as we planted and mulched the trees and bushes. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Here is the list of species:

Plant list
Raspberry, black 25
                     purple flowering 25
Dogwood, alternate-leaf 10
                   grey 20
Sumac, staghorn 20
Pasture rose 20
Serviceberry 15
Aspen, trembling 5
Oak, bur 2
          red 2
Basswood 2
Maple, sugar 2
Pine, Eastern white 2
Total 150

Our next event will be a table at the EcoFair at Wychwood Barns on Sunday 4th November 11 am to 4 pm. Come and talk to us there!

John Cummings

Plant ID walk with Toronto Bruce Trail Club

19th September: Marilyn MacKellar and Glynn Richardson of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club led another of their plant identification walks last Sunday 16th September. This was a combined group of BT and Friends of Cedarvale members. Marilyn can be seen talking to the group in the photo below (thanks to Glynn for the photos; I was not able to be there):

Cedarvale MacKellar hike 16th September 2018

There were 24 people at the start of the hike, fewer at the end. As usual, the group proceeded slowly, identifying plants along the way. Marilyn said the group asked a lot of questions, most of which she and Glynn were able to answer. This is a non-native invasive plant that is more prevalent than we would like in the park:

Cedarvale MacKellar hike 16th September 2018 3

It is the rather pretty flower of common burdock (arctium minus). The plant in the next photo looks like a cobweb. It is your puzzle for the week. If anyone can identify it, let me know:

Cedarvale MacKellar hike 16th September 2018 2

Many thanks to Marilyn and Glynn for organizing this hike. They plan another one next spring. Marilyn says that someone left with one of her books. If that is you, please contact me and I will arrange to return the book to her.

Our next event is a tree planting at 10 am on Saturday 22nd September. It will be on the slope at the south end of the dog park. Parking is available in the Phil White Arena parking lot, or on Strathearn Rd or Heathdale/Humewood entrance. Hope to see some of you there!

John Cummings

Miles Hearn leads another great nature walk

6th September: On a hot and humid Sunday 2nd September, Miles Hearn led us on another of his fascinating nature walks. Much earlier in the year he had taken us on a snowy winter walk, starting at the subway (see January blog posting). This time we started from the Phil White Arena and did a circular tour. Miles has kindly allowed me to make use of his photos, which are much better than mine. Here is the cricket pitch, seen from the path down from Heathdale/Humewood:

Here is the group of 16 of us half-way through the hike:

Miles always amazes me with his ability to name almost everything he sees, be it plant, tree, bird, insect or mushroom. This time he concentrated on flowers, but also mentioned anything else that caught his attention. Below are some of the flowers we saw:

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum)

Here Miles is identifying a tree mushroom (photo lower down):


These are more of the flowers he identified:

Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)

Here he is pointing out dock:


This is one of the invasive, non-native trees, of which we have many:

Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

We also saw and/or heard a few birds. This is one of them:

Northern Flicker

Other birds were warbling vireo, American robin and hairy and downy woodpeckers.

This plant is quite common in the park:

Beggar Ticks (Bidens frondosa)

Here is Miles expounding to the group:


We saw several of these:

Jerusalem -artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculaltus)

This is the tree mushroom referred to above:

Dryad’s Saddle

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Miles is a very active nature walk leader, as you can see from his web site; I note he did 25 walks in May, almost one a day.  Our walk is already written up:

I have added the bird species list from his report: Cooper’s hawk, turkey vulture, northern flicker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, gray catbird, European starling, house sparrow, northern cardinal, American goldfinch. (13 species)

Our next event will be a rather different (slower) approach to nature walks, led by Marilyn MacKellar and Glynn Richardson for the Toronto Bruce Trail Club. It will start from the St Clair W subway exit on Heath St W at 10 am on Sunday 16th September.

John Cummings

CBC report produces some action on dog park shade structure

24th August: Two days after the CBC ran a news item about the slow progress on the ill-fated shade structure, on Wednesday 22nd August the workers were hard at it! All in one day, they put on the roof and replaced the support poles with longer ones, bringing it to the correct height – and all in the approved forest green colour. We can now hope that it will soon be finished and the long saga will be over! The dog owners and walkers will be greatly relieved.


Stairs at Glen Cedar bridge under construction

At the Glen Cedar bridge, work has begun on the new staircase:


Although all was quiet at the time I passed on 23rd August, this beast had obviously been in action:


I have been in touch with Sun Wai Lee, the project manager, and Marcelo Boriano, the site representative. They said the bridge work should be finished by the end of August. Work on the stairs has been delayed by “an unforeseen TTC standpipe in conflict with the stair foundation/caissons”. A change order had to be issued to resolve the conflict. They now expect the stairs to be completed by mid-October.

Our next event will be another nature walk, led by naturalist Miles Hearn, starting from a new departure point (for him): the Phil White Arena parking lot at 1.30 pm on Sunday 2nd September. I hope to see some of you there!

John Cummings





Karen Sun leads another informative nature walk

11th August: Despite threatening weather, we set off at 6.30 pm from the Heath St entrance last Wednesday 8th August under the guidance of our intrepid leader, Karen Sun, from Parks, Forestry and Recreation:


There were 19 of us at the start. Here is the other half of the crowd:


Karen said that her favourite flower book is Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, because it uses drawings rather than photos, making identification easier. We set off down the path, stopping frequently to identify plants. This is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). a native plant:


Nearby was Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus), a non-native plant (Karen later kindly checked all my plant names and gave me the Latin name and whether native/non-native):


Here we have White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia), a native plant:


We have a lot of this particular plant, Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), another native one:


Here Karen is talking about all the non-native trees and plants, some invasive, that have increasingly colonized our ravines:


This is one of them – the delightfully descriptive Dog Strangling Vine (DSV) (Vincetoxicum rossicum), a non-native and invasive plant (see below). Karen said that a natural control for DSV, a moth, is being worked on. Another one in this same location that is unfortunately quite prevalent in Cedarvale is Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). I observed this plant on my trip to England in its native habitat, where it is kept under control by competition from many other plants such as nettles, docks, thistles etc.


Another import – the yellow flower below –  is Yellow Toadflax/Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris):


And two more non-native flowers are Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), the yellow flower, and Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), the purple flower:


Here is Purple loosestrife again, with Comfrey (the white flower, non-native) (Symphytum officinale) in the centre:


Yet another non-native and invasive plant is Sweet white clover (Melilotus albus):


Here is a native plant which rejoices in the lovely name of White snake root (Ageratina altissima):


The last one Karen pointed out is one of the first to appear in spring, with its yellow flower that is easy to mistake for the dandelion. At this time of year, the flower has gone and there are only leaves to identify it – Coltsfoot (tussilago farfara):


At some point in our walk, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled, so we turned back before even reaching the cat-tail wetland and the Bathurst St bridge. Demonstrating the power of water, here is Ivor standing beside the enormous crevices created in the path by the torrential deluge on the night of the previous Tuesday 7th August. By today they had all been filled in:


Many thanks once again to Karen for giving up her off-work time to help us understand the ecology of our beloved park.

John Cummings


The park is not a dumping ground!

7th August: Recently, I came across two cases of illegal dumping in the park. The first was just inside the Humewood/Heathdale entrance, right in among our most recent planting. Someone had pruned a blue spruce tree and hauled the cut branches to dump in the park:


I moved them out beside the sidewalk and will request Parks staff to remove them (they did, very promptly):


The other case was behind the outdoor skating rink. Someone had dumped two lots of broken bathroom fixtures. This was one of them:


I gradually moved the mess over to the garbage container, one heavy plastic bag at a time, over a period of four days. As balm to the soul after all this labour, I went and contemplated the flourishing Joe-Pye Weed:


Don’t forget our nature walk with Karen Sun of Parks tomorrow evening at 6.30 pm, starting from the St Clair W subway exit on Heath St W.

John Cummings

Shade structure in dog park to be removed and replaced

18th July: I was just about to remark on the new shade structure in the dog park, when I heard from Councillor Mihevc’s office that it is to be removed and replaced! As he says, this project has indeed been “marred with problems”. Apparently, the contractor hired for the installation did not meet the specs that were clearly laid out in the tender. The shelter has been installed too low, and in the wrong colour! It has been decided that the shelter will be removed and a new one installed in September. It will be forest green and a little more than two feet higher than the one shown below:


Apart from this debacle, I was pleased to note several changes in the park on my return from almost two months in the UK. Next to the dog park, two green bins for organic waste (mainly dog poop) have been installed. This should help with the problem of dog poop contaminating the recycling. I had read that only a small proportion of organic waste in the recycling means that the whole bin-load goes to garbage.


Here is the new sign:


Another new sign has gone up in two places; it is about coyotes:


The sign may be helpful in our campaign to persuade people to keep their dogs on leash when not in the off-leash area. In an earlier blog, I reported that someone had also sighted a coy-wolf in the park; this is a cross between a coyote and a wolf.


Finally, fresh wood chips have been put down to cover the wet patch part-way along the path north from Markdale School parallel to Strathearn Rd. Several months ago, one of my dog-walker friends had asked me to contact the then park supervisor, Diane Tomlin, to request the new chips. She had put through a work-order. Sometimes the system works: the chips are now in place!

The staircase beside the Glen Cedar Rd footbridge was supposed to have been closed last Monday 9th July. However, there was a delay and the steps were actually closed on 16th July. Update #2 from the city does not say how long the staircase will be closed. The update says the bridge renovation is now expected to be finished by September. It also says that areas affected by the construction will be restored.

John Cummings