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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rhododendron Peak Blooming Season Now

May 3 2016 Update:

The Annual Garden Tour date for 2016 has been moved ahead to the first Sunday in June, the 5th. 

Due to the late spring and cooler than usual weather, the BRGSC members decided that an additional week of warmth would allow the rhododendrons a bit more time to look their best.

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Here are a few photos of rhododendrons in bloom at the Gardens last week, and sent in by David Culham (Thank you, David!)

As well, Para Kanp, head gardener, sends this update on the state of the blooms today.

"This week is the best week for blooms this year. 
The big leaf Rhodes and Jolie Madams are in bloom. 
The former Lily Bed [East Garden, visible from Lakeshore Road West] is having its best show ever. 
Don't miss it. Once it's gone, it's gone."

Here are David's pictures* with dates included on the images. The images speak for themselves.

Flowers and buds in red rhododendron, Port Credit, ON
Red Rhodo and Buds

Lilac flowers in snowball shape, mauve lilac color.
Mauve 'snowball' Flowers

Pink buds become white on large blooming rhododendron flower.
Pale Pink to White Bloom on Rhodo

Pink blossoms cover rhododendron in full bloom Spring 2013, Port Credit ON
Vibrant Lilac-Pink Blooms

Small shrub rhodo with deep mauve-lilac blossoms in full bloom.
Glowing Deep Mauve Rhodo

Japanese Cherry trees in bloom, overlooking mauve rhododendrons at BRG.
Hillside Gardens with Japanese Cherries and Mauve Rhodos

Small rhododendron shrub covered in pale pink blooms.
Pale Pink Rhodos

Uncommon Yellow rhodo coming into bloom at BRG late May 2013
Vibrant Yellow Rhodo coming into Bloom.

Last week, while working in the Gardens on a rainy day, we noticed how many rhododendrons and azaleas were still full of buds yet to open, due to the cooler, wetter spring weather this year.

Thanks to Para for letting us know many buds opened with the warmer weather a few days ago.

With cooler, sunny weather forecast for the next week, this year's peak blooming season has been extended well into June.

Do come out and walk the trails to admire this festival of color this year. Be sure to bring your camera!


*All images copyright and courtesy of David J Culham.



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring Gardens Cleanup Tzu Chi Volunteers

 Volunteer Group helps ready gardens for Spring Tour


With a lot of 'help from our friends', the Tzu Chi Foundation, the BRG is looking good for its annual garden tour on Sunday, May 26, 2013.  The West Toronto chapter, which has adopted this public gardens, spent a Sunday morning in late April weeding, cultivating, and picking up litter and the debris left by winter winds.

 Here are some photos of the work party and some early spring flowers that brightened the day.

Spring cleanup in hosta garden at BRG Port Credit, with Tzu Chi volunteers.
Tzu Chi Volunteers Hosta Garden
The new hosta bed, installed last summer to rejuvenate one of the original beds near the Port Credit sign at Godfreys Lane, needed a lot of weeding. Good soil is a magnet for itinerant weed seeds. Many hands made light work, and the emerging hostas currently have a weed-free bed.

Tzu Chi West Toronto volunteers weed BRG Lakeshore Road West garden bed, Port Credit, ON
660 Lakeshore Road West Bed Spring Clean-up
The plantings along the Lakeshore Road West frontage need lots of work year round, and early spring, when the plants and shrubs are just emerging is a great time to get in to work. This bed is a challenge to maintain at any time.

The land slopes sharply down to Tecumseh Creek, in parts very steep, and that makes it difficult to work in. As well, the bed lies on either side of a guardrail; the area nearest Lakeshore Road W. is prone to damage from winter road maintenance, and year-round litter blowing in or being dropped by passersby. That the bed is adjacent to a naturalizing area means weeds and wildflowers are always trying to get a root-hold.

It's been suggested that the rather unlovely and aging guardrail be replaced with something as effective, but more in keeping with, the design of a public gardens. Currently, day lilies, chrysanthemums and tulips line the street side of the bed, and on the more protected gardens side, there are azaleas, perennials and standard hydrangeas.

Sign at BRG gardens entrance recognizing Tzu Chi work in Port Credit.
Tzu Chi Adopts Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens
A new sign at the parking lot entrance commemorates the work of the Tzu Chi volunteers. The group attends about three times each year, giving proof to the adage of many hands making light work.

This day, about 60 members working three hours each meant 180 man hours of garden work. Other days, up to 120 volunteers have turned out, and, though the number of hours worked per volunteer is lower, the total hours is much higher.

In any event, we cannot thank them enough for their cheerful labour in a public garden, for the benefit of all who visit.

BRG head gardener, Para Kanp, works in hosta garden with Tzu Chi volunteers.
Para Kanp with Tzu Chi Volunteers
Para Kanp, head gardener (left), works with volunteers in the main hosta bed, north of the Rose Garden and west of the garden building, where the hostas are just beginning to emerge.

 Under the trees in the background, rhododendrons and early-blooming azaleas have not yet come into bloom.

Rose Garden gets spring cleanup with help of a young boy volunteer from Tzu Chi, Port Credit.
Young Tzu Chi volunteer in Rose Garden BRG
One of the youngest volunteers gave a good morning's work to weed and tidy the garden beds. Young members are encouraged to learn to appreciate the natural world, and to donate their time in aid of others.

BRG rose garden gets spring cleanup with dozens of Tzu Chi volunteers filling bags with weeds.
Let's Clean Up The Rose Garden: Tzu Chi Volunteers at BRG

David Culham, BRGSC Chair, also worked along with the volunteers.

Culham says, "The group shares laughter and work in equal measure. Separating into different groups, the Tzu Chi group picked up litter on the beach, and weeded the front bed as well as the new hosta bed in the East Garden.

"Another group weeded the peony bed and then turned their attention to the rose beds. More teenagers and very young children came out this year and joined in with the work.

"It is a pleasure for . . .  me to share the morning in many tasks within the BRG."


Heritage rhododendron beds near Brueckner plaque get spring cleaning from volunteers.
BRG Heritage Rhododendron Garden Spring Cleaning
The Heritage Rhododendrons, the legacy of Dr. Brueckner, are not forgotten as volunteers creep under the budding plants to pick litter and weeds.

Earlier this spring, several large decaying trees were removed, which also opened the canopy to let the sun shine in; this should encourage even more blooms on this showcase garden.

Late April first bloom of white azaleas at BRG Port Credit.
Early Azaleas Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens
Overlooking the Lake Ontario shoreline and the waters of Cranberry Cove, an early white-blossomed azalea is one of the first bloomers in the Gardens this spring. In other years, these azaleas, along with the forsythia  (yellow) bloomed in late March.

Magnolias just beginning to open buds, show white flowers, as spring cleanup underway.
Budding magnolias frame Tzu Chi Volunteers at BRG
Early magnolias were just starting to open their fat white buds, framing the volunteers working in the Rose Garden. There are a number of magnolias throughout the Gardens, so keep an eye out to see what's in bloom.

Shy violets bloom at base of tree in late  spring at Brueckner Gardens.
Violets Aren't Shy at BRG Port Credit ON
Clumps of early violets can be spotted this week in the Gardens, like this clump near the north bridge over Tecumseh Creek. Keep watch, too, for the early-blooming primroses along the creek banks.

Other wild plants are not as welcome, as Culham notes:


"Despite being successful over the last six years in reducing our garlic mustard in the BRG, we still have plenty. Removing it will be a big task over the next 30 days. If you can spare the time come out and help."
Early spring time to pull garlic mustard, before it goes to seed.
Garlic Mustard (D.J. Culham photo)
Garlic mustard, when it goes to bloom then seed, sends forth thousands of seeds.  (See More Info here.) If you can help, contact David or Para (details).  It's easiest to remove the plants while they are small. (A side benefit is they go well in green salads or pesto. Search for "garlic mustard recipes" and you are spoiled for choice.)


And even if you cannot attend the Annual Garden Tour from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 26, do come out to visit the Gardens this season.

Once the warm weather is here for good, there is always something to see in bloom. And there is much to hear; bird calls and lapping waves, the babbling brook.

 And sometimes, it's just the welcome sound of silence.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tree Removals ~ Springtime BRG

Letting the sun shine in for the rhododendrons 

After a long, cold winter (and chilly spring!), the Gardens is getting ready for the new season. Yesterday a City of Mississauga forestry crew was hard at work taking down six large trees near the rhododendron and azalea beds in the West Garden.

Old, crowded pine trees cut down and removed in public gardens, Mississauga.
Top-of-hill Tree Removal at BRG
 Felling large trees that are growing among the rhododendrons demands precision, and the crew handled the work admirably: Not one rhodo was damaged in the process. The tree in the above picture is one of three dead or dying pines located at the top of the hill (looking south) overlooking Lake Ontario.

Felled pine tree and stump in rhododendron bed, Port Credit.
Felled Pine Tree in Rhododendron Bed 
 The second of the three pines at the same top-of-hill location (looking north) was felled down the slope towards the Lake. Notice the proximity of the rhododendrons to the tree stump.

Tree trunk and stump of newly-felled pine points to Lake Ontario at BRG Port Credit.
Downhill View of Felled Pine Tree at BRG
 Here is another view of the same tree as above, but looking south. It shows there's little room for error, and how precisely the tree was felled. I, for one, was impressed. The blue in the background is Lake Ontario. The top lookout and the 'Hot Dawn' rhodos bed are located to the left, just out of view.

Trunk of a silverbark willow after branches trimmed, BRG Port Credit, ON
Silverbark Willow (centre) Near BRG Main Rhodo Bed
 The Silverbark Willow (twin shortened trunks, middle) is located just to the right of the split rail fencing that marks the Brueckner heritage rhododendron beds just south of the main entrance.

During a wind storm last year, the silverbark had sent out a loud cracking sound, startling several visitors who looked at it with alarm. The tree didn't fall, but it did list a bit, and rested one of its huge limbs on its Black Willow neighbour.

Now it is gone; the Black Willow is also being watched for health issues. These large trees pre-date the BRG's establishment by many years, and are always monitored for health and safety, says BRG Head Gardener, Para Kanp, adding that new trees are continually being planted around the gardens.

City of Mississauga forestry truck and crew felling trees at BRG Port Credit.
City of Mississauga Forestry Crew at BRG
Here's the view that greeted Gardens visitors yesterday: The crane truck and crew working at the main heritage beds. Note the tree trunks just to the right of the truck: The fresh cut 'circles' are the silverbark willow in the previous picture.

Also note the 'snow fence' around the rhodo and azalea bed (lower right) is still in place after other snow fencing around the gardens has been removed for the season.

That's because this bed, one of the first when you enter from the parking lot, is the first chance dogs get to 'lift a leg'. Since dog P is very harmful to rhodos, this fencing will prevent them from damaging the sensitive rhodos until a permanent (and more attractive) barrier can be put in place.

Men in orange safety vests sit beside trees and white forestry truck at BRG in Port Credit. They are half way through removing dead, large pine trees.
Forestry Crew CofM Main Rhododendron Bed BRG
On a break for a late lunch, the crew in orange safety vests catches a bit of warmth from the early-spring sun that off-set the day's cold brisk winds. The wooden obelisk (center of photo) is the trunk of a large dead pine that they've limbed in preparation for taking down. The twin trunks of the silverbark willow (right, angled) is also ready for final removal.

Pine tree trunk towers over rhododendrons in early Spring, overlooking Lake Ontario in Port Credit Gardens.
Tall Pine Trunk Before Removal at BRG
The last of the three old pines from the top of the hill overlooking the Lake will also have been felled by now, and all leaf and branch debris cleaned up.

A side benefit of removing large trees, says Para Kanp, is that with the shady canopy gone, more sunlight will be able to reach the rhodos. While they do like some shade, and wind protection that the large trees afford, rhodos appreciate a bit more sunlight. And since more sun can result in more flowers, Kanp foresees a great blooming season for the rhododendrons.

Kanp, assisted by Gardens volunteers, will be the leader-guide for the BRG's annual gardens tour. This free tour takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. the last Sunday in May. This year, the date is May 26. Come down and bring your cameras and questions for the Master Gardener.