In the late 1970s the only trees in Bickford Park were the large willows on the east slope, planted around 1910, and a row of poplars and a few Norway maples along the Montrose lane. The poplars all died within a few years. The City Parks Department planted groves of trees on the west and east slopes around 1995 together with children from local elementary schools. The Friends of Bickford Park planted more trees at the north and south ends of Bickford Park, as well as in Harbord (Eggleton) Park. Ornamental beds were added to the entrances of the park, and in 2012 trees, shrubs and flowers were planted along the Bickford Center south wall as a graffiti abatement project. Bickford Park now contains a variety of native tree species such as Tulip trees, Yellow Wood, White, Yellow and Water Birch, Redbud, and Chinquapin Oak. The park also has a rare American Chestnut, a tree which was virtually wiped out by the chestnut blight. It’s small, but it’s growing. Unlike the common horse chestnut its nuts are edible. Don’t get your buckets out, though – it will be a while before the first harvest!
Emerald Ash Borer (and other losses)
Quite a few of the ash trees in Bickford Park have been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. This insect, native to Asia, lays eggs on the bark of ash trees, and the larvae dig under the bark and create galleries which eventually kill the tree. Syringes are used to apply pesticide to areas behind the bark but have only limited effect. Scarborough and Mississauga have been especially badly hit and have lost many mature street trees. We have also lost several trees to the harsh winter of 2013/14, in particular three reduds which, in Toronto, are at the margin of their natural distribution. Fortunately, the largest of them in the NE part of the park survived and had its usual spectacular pink blossoms this spring.
Community Canoe Gardens along the Garrison Creek
As part of the Suzuki Foundation’s Homegrown National Park project, canoes filled with soil and planted with native grasses and flowers have been placed along the route of the buried Garrison Creek. One of these is located at the north end of Eggleton (Harbord) Park. It has been cared for by kindergarden classes from Montrose School and by local residents, and this summer displayed a range of flowering plants. For more details of ths program see
Annual Bickford Park planting and clean-up
Our annual planting and clean-up event took place Sunday May 4, 2014 from 11-2. We planted three new trees: a yellow birch and a flowering dogwood at the north end of the park, and a crabapple trees at the south-east corner. Thanks to Helen Mills and the Lost Rivers group for procviding a grant, to Parks for helping to transport the trees, and to the volunteers who helped putting the trees into the ground. All are growing well. We also planted some flowering milkweed, hoping that at least some Monarch butterflies will find their way to them. Their decline is one of the many sad environmental stories.
Students from Horizon School help with Bickford stewardship
Students from Horizon alternative school volunteered in Bickford Park on June 23 and 25 to spread woodchips, clear debris and branches. The paths through the naturalized areas at the north-east corner and the west slope are much improved. Great job, and many thanks!