2021 Greener Greenspace Profile
Windermere United Church Pollinator Garden
Located in Toronto, ON, on the grounds of Windermere United Church, the garden received funding from the City of Toronto’s PollinateTO program in support of the City’s Pollinator Strategy.
Design and Process
Planted in 2021, the garden features a variety of plant and tree species in order to have plants blooming from spring to late fall. The plan is to convert turf on the Church grounds into a woodland garden and a rain garden. In consideration of local wildlife, they have included water features for birds and insects and have added old logs and woodpiles for bees and other insects. Dead plants are left standing until late in spring for insects that may be overwintering in them. To date, they have planted over thirty different species of perennial plants as well as over ten native tree and shrub species such as Chokecherry, Ninebark and Serviceberry. The soil for the gardens was amended with mushroom compost and two loads of wood chips from a local arborist were applied to help eliminate the grass and provide mulch for the woodland garden.
The church itself received a Faithful Footsteps grant from The United Church of Canada to help retrofit the building with energy efficient windows, more energy efficient air conditioning etc. In the gardens, they have a rain barrel to reduce their water consumption.
A core group of volunteers steward the garden. Through Project Swallowtail, an initiative to connect communities and empower residents to restore nature in Toronto, two volunteers became certified under the Pollinator Partnership Canada's Pollinator Stewardship Course.
During Pollinator Week in June 2021, the Church held tours of the garden, and hosted activities for children attending the daycare and other members of the community. A local mothers' group attended an information session about the garden and the approach to remove lawn for native plant gardens, and information was provided through the Windermere United Church bi-weekly newsletter that is circulated to people inside and outside the church. To complement the native plant garden, the Church had their Bell Canada electrical boxes painted with a pollinator theme as part of the Bell Box Mural program.
The garden received funding from the City of Toronto’s PollinateTO program. The overhaul of their gardens in 2020/21 has been met with enthusiasm by neighbours, church members and other users of the site. By participating in Project Swallowtail, the David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway Project and PollinateTO, and having signage in the garden, they have increased public awareness of the beauty of native plants and the importance of pollinator gardens. The gardens are now used in new ways by children and adults alike and neighbours on the street are planting native plants in their gardens to create a pollinator pathway.
Check out a before and after video of the garden.
For more information on PollinateTO, visit their website.
Photographs by Christine Hughes and Maggie Knaus
Greener Greenspaces is a recognition program for sites from across Canada that exemplify greener greenspace stewardship. The aim of the program is to showcase examples of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada.