Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BRG 2010 Year End Garden Report / Newsletter

2010 Busy, Productive Year at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens in Mississauga

Here are the details from the year-end newsletter compiled by David Cullam, BRGSC (Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens Stewardship Committee):

1. New City of Mississauga Councillor Jim Tovey toured the BRG with us January 7, 2011, despite the chill in the air. We were pleased that Jim showed a very positive interest. We welcome his input and assistance in getting more volunteers to help maintain and grow the Garden. We will add Jim to the annual Mayor’s tour during the spring floral display. We thank the out going councillor Carmen Corbasson for all her efforts over the years.

2. Putting the BRG to bed for winter: By late September, our efforts at weeding subsided. In October, while continuing transplanting various shrubs and perennials, we distributed and spread 20 tonnes of free compost from Peel Region. In addition we distributed and spread as mulch some 60 cubic yards of pine needles that had been picked up by staff from designated areas in the neighbourhood. Former councillor Terry Butt planted some 1000 tulip bulbs for spring. Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary students planted shrubs in the Tecumseh Creek zone aided by former councillor David Cook (Bioswale plantings). Students helped with the wild flower plantings this fall that included donated cardinal plants.

3. Dogs off leash! In response to complaints, staff sent Animal Services into the BRG twice in the first week of December, and handed out 3 tickets. Visitors are reminded that dogs and rhodos are a bad mix.

4. BRG Volunteer hours in 2010: In 2010, an incredible 1427.35 volunteer hours were logged at the Garden. We wish to thank all the volunteers, great and small, for their efforts in making the BRG a place of beauty for all Mississaugans. That also extends to the two Co-Op students who also get course credits for their work in the Garden. Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the garden operation noted below. Put in another way, this amounts to 36 work weeks at 40 hours per week.

Looking Back on the Garden : How It's Grown!
2006: I am reminded of how far we have travelled from my start in June 2006 after retiring. I got involved because Marta Brueckner, wife of the late Dr. Joseph Brueckner, called me greatly concerned about the terrible decline in the Garden and wished to have Joe’s plaque removed because of her disappointment in the state of the Garden.

Hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas had died without replacement. Much of the Garden was without irrigation. The East Garden (east of Tecumseh Creek) was in total decline. Despite having a naturalization designation for the Tecumseh Creek area that bisects the Garden, nothing had changed or improved. No full time gardener was assigned. The “garden” had returned to a “park” with cut grass.

2007 :The City responded in 2007 by assigning Master Gardener Para Kanp and assistant Joe DeCoste with immediate positive results.

2008 - Present:The Stewardship Committee (BRGSC) started in February 2008 with a gardening, planning and advisory role to the City staff. Our “sweat equity” encourages the Mississauga City Council and staff to do more. The BRGSC has greatly improved the level of maintenance with weeding, trimming and cultivating. Committee members donated plant stock from their gardens and one member purchased all the roses and peonies. We have planted hundreds of donated wild flowers and shrubs and have planted hundreds of shrubs out the City’s naturalization budget.

Here's part of the report by City of Mississauga Area Manager Frank Buckley to the Cranberry Cove Ratepayers Association who abut the BRG in Port Credit Mississauga for work done in 2010:

New Plantings : Removal and transplanted plant materials from City-onwed Hancock nurseries property to BRG. The plant materials including some rare varieties of plant materials from the former Hancock property include:
  • 1000 Rhododendron / Azaleas in 7 new beds in the East garden
  • 200 Companion plants for Rhodos
  • 50 Shrubs
  • 25 Trees
Other new Garden plantings in 2010 include 200 in-house, head gardener-propagated Rhodos/Azaleas and 10 in-house propagated standard roses with several colours grafted into one stem and four new beds planted with Rhododendrons and Azaleas in the main collection (West side) which used to be Rhododendron beds (One in particular for Dr. Breuckner Cultivars).

Other BRG work in 2010:
  • New cedar split rail fence installed to keep the dogs away from the main collection. Soil test shows the soil chemistry is changing to alkalinity which is a dangerous situation for Rhododendrons and Azaleas.
  • Bio Swale, naturalization plantings and a new foot bridge were installed to the maximize usage of the east garden.
  • Waterfront viewing area upgraded with 3 new high-end benches on concrete pads, new foot trail for beach access now altered via addition of a low split rail fence along which a perennial shrub garden was installed.
  • 3000 annuals and 25 fall mums were planted.
  • Perennial beds including hostas, peony and Black-eyed Susans bed upgraded. The hostas were imported from Holland for unique colour and varieties. Peony bed has high end tree peonies to expand the flowering season. The Black-eyed Susan bed has very minimal maintenance because of the type of plant materials used in the bed.
  • Rose Garden drainage systems upgraded and redesigned and new rose plants added. A total of 600 plants are now located in the Rose Garden. One of the highlights is the Hazel McCallion rose. All the cultivars of the roses were carefully selected to maximum resistance of pests and diseases.
  • Undertaking of tree pruning and elevating was carried out throughout the year allowing more sunlight for the woodland plants such as Rhodos and Azaleas.
  • New roof for the bunker/ tool shed / office.
  • New drainage system installed along the waterfront trail near the south bridge area.
  • 10 zones of underground automated sprinkler/drip system had been installed to keep the operating cost down and the maximum health to Rhododendron / Azalea plants. This is part of the IPM program.

Looking Ahead to 2011 
  • Focus on existing beds and material. Some in-fill planned.
  • Expand volunteer efforts to help staff and Stewardship Committee members maintain Mississauga's first public garden.

Gardening is one of the best forms of exercise. Come and volunteer and put this exercise programme within your future life planning. Our vision is to maintain a four season garden.

If you would like to join the volunteer effort and/or the mailing list for this monthly newsletter, please leave a comment below.

David Culham

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