Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What were they thinking? part 1

Well it has been a while... been a busy summer season for me as well, so I have not had the time to sit and write any blog updates.

Anyway, today I decided to write about something I drive by on a regular basis. The North-west corner of Islington Road and Eglington Road has been a bother to me ever since the City Of Toronto did what they did.One of the first things I learned while studying trees and shrubs of Ontario was that the Norway Maple is an invasive tree species in Canada. It was introduced to Toronto some time ago because of its ability to leaf out early in Spring and drop leaves later in fall. The idea was to bring this tree over from Europe to the North-Eastern part of North America so that urban landscapes could look a little greener for just a bit longer then what our Native trees could provide.

A good friend of mine, Peter Heyblom (fellow Landscape Designer) wrote an extensive article on the Norway Maple in Canada. His article elaborates on some of the concerns mentioned here in my post.

As time moves forward in our cities and populated places, the Norway Maple is now considered a very invasive tree to our natural ravine & forested areas. It is a very hardy and aggressive tree... so dominant in a forested environment that it would completely shade out, overtake and replace any native species of tree or shrub. There are countless ravine areas in Toronto that have about 80% Norway Maple growth versus a fading 20% native to Ontario plant species growth.

So what is on the corner of Islington and Eglington?

A tree advocacy program created by the city of Toronto...sponsored by the names displayed in the picture. Why is it an issue for me?..why would I possibly balk at a project that introduces native and natural vegetation to a once empty field???
If you look closely at the photo above... you will see Norway Maples!!!(outlined below)

So... what is the problem with this setup? If you plant a Norway maple in the middle of a grass field...and year after year, continually mow the area around the tree, the chance for seeds to spread is very minimal. The chance for this aggressive and dominating tree to do damage to natural areas is very minor.

Yet here we see a planting program that is destined to fail in a few years. Eventually as the native plant material grows and flourishes... it will pave the way for seedlings of the Norway Maple to spread and grow. Soon the trees will become larger, dominant trees and eventually crowd out the glorious efforts put forth to naturalize the field on the corner of Islington and Eglington.