Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Pipeline Trail Planning Team and the Pollinator Paradise Project go on an excursion.

This article will appear in the June issue of The Point News.

Bev Wagar’s got her shovel in hand, her dog Wagley on the leash. Fran Frazier’s dog Mikey sniffs Wagley up; approves. Elizabeth Seidl arrives, a map of the area rolled up under one arm. We wait a while for more Crown Point Garden Club members to show. Matthew Lowe strolls over, pausing now and then to gather discarded plastic bottles laying on the trail, to bring home and recycle. Jen Baker of the Pollinator Paradise Project pulls up, and community developer, Lyna Saad rides in on her bike.

All here now, we set off down the Pipeline Trail, chatting amiably.  This motley crew has a mission: tonight, they will decide the location—out of three proposed sites—for the pollinator garden they’ll be planting in June in hopes of attracting butterflies and other beneficial insects and small birds.

Our first stop is opposite the small “triangle site,” an already established garden that the group intends to spruce up in addition to the new site they’ll be choosing. We watch as Bev sticks her shovel into the turf, digs out a pile of earth, which she then examines with her fingers. “It balls up,” she says, disappointed, meaning that there is quite a bit of clay content, “but nothing pernicious.”

We look around: what are the logistics? Water can come from neighbour Eric’s house, through a hosepipe under the fence (and he’s willing to paint the fence in the bargain).  The area around the gas meter must be left open, and let’s consider visibility issues. Fortunately there are no concerns with the site lines. Someone comments that this location will also benefit from late afternoon sun.
We move on to site two. It’s bigger, which means more work. It’s not a low site, so we won’t need to worry about flooding.
 “We could take it from the grass line,” Fran suggests and Bev traces an imaginary line with the shovel to help us get a visual sense of what that might look like.

Juby Lee with the Pollinator Paradise Project reminds us to also keep in mind that there needs to be space enough for City of Hamilton lawnmowers to go around when they do their mowing.  "We’ll also need to put in markers for winter plowing,” she says.

“There’s the cement border, so we don't need to build a raise border and we won’t lose woodchips,” Fran points out. We all agree: People respect a garden with a border so it has to be obvious that this is a garden. “Leave some grass for the dogs to pee on it," Fran says, and we all laugh.
A little girl, dressed in pink, emerges from a grassy alleyway that is bathed in the glow of the setting sun. She meanders over to us, curious but keeps her distance. I wave. She waves back and continues on her way.

"So what's everyone think of this site?" Bev calls out.
The vibe is good. We like.
"Having it in the middle of the two streets gives it a sense of destination, there is a kind of symmetry with the curb,” Matthew enthuses.
There is potential for a sense of continuity and a natural progression for the eye to follow; first with the triangle at the start of the trail, followed by this “curb site.” And hopefully down the line, they’ll add more pollinator gardens, keeping it moving with a garden network of residents volunteering for the upkeep.
Imaginations are being stimulated: “A bench can go over there, facing the garden,” Elizabeth gestures to a stand of tall, shady trees.
“We’ll need big shrubs like Carolina Rose to fill this space,” Bev says. “Or Hostas,” Elizabeth counters, teasing Bev about her most dreaded plant.
Bev tests the soil again. “This is a little bit better,” she announces. Has the decision been made for us?
"Do we still want to check out the third location—to be fair?” Anne Vallentin asks.  Everyone agrees.
The designated Public Relations person (because who can say no to Anne?), she goes over to talk to the neighbour from whose house the gardeners will need to draw water should they pick “mystery mound” site.
The group jokes about what is under this mound (fill or dinosaur?).
Fran likes it, “because there is so little here—it’s a low hanging fruit.”
“I can see a bunch of Dogwoods right there in a woodland garden,” Bev points with her shovel.
We're at the end of the excursion and there is an official vote, without the voting: most everyone is partial to the second “curb site.”
We’re heading back, pleased. All that’s needed now are the “locates” to make sure that all is good to go and the gardeners won’t be digging up something they shouldn’t be. Then let the planting commence! The city can then put the site into the Official Plan and it’s… official. How’s that for a good night’s work?
Volunteers needed to help plant a pollinator paradise garden!
The Crown Point Garden Club (Pipeline Trail Planning Team) is calling for volunteers to help plant the pollinator happening on Saturday June 6, which is to coincide with the citywide 100in1Day event happening the same day.

Planting is scheduled for 9 am to 12 pm, contact Bev Wagar (  or Elizabeth Seidl (

Public Consultation for the Trail’s Master Plan: Have your say!
Come out to the third community consultation for the trail’s Master Plan. Thursday June 25th, Perkins Centre, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.