Show a Little Respect

By | Aldona At Large Blog | October 17, 2011 | No comments

What would we do without our hard-working volunteers? Here at the TBG, they number some 375 strong and help us in every facet of our operations. From the reception desk, to the shop, to the library, to the garden, to education and everywhere in between, you see the capable hands, caring hearts and smiling faces of the marvelous men and women (and even a couple of youngsters), who keep this place humming. Without their support, our small staff couldn’t even begin to make a dent in all that gets accomplished. So last Thursday, the staff put on its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to honour their hard work and tremendous contributions. We planned, we gathered, we cajoled, we bought, we schlepped, we baked, we decorated, we wrapped (thank you, Laura), we served–in short, we did everything we could to show our respect and affection.

And I must say, a grand time was had by all, staff and volunteers alike. Emboldened by a glass of vino, the MC (me) even warbled a few uncertain bars of “You’re the Top.” Nobody booed.

One of the highlights of the evening was the draw for swag, um, prizes. John Bertram, Head of Volunteer Services, drew the names while I read them out. We kept going and going until everyone in the room had won something. Now that’s the kind of prize draw I like.

Parking Lot Update

The work proceeds apace on the renovation of the city-owned parking lot in front of our building and much as been accomplished. Our thanks to everyone for their patience and forebearance–I know the parking situation is a challenge, and we are looking at ways to help ease it. I will keep you apprised on all new developments. Meanwhile, in evening, extra parking spaces may be found at St. Bonaventure School and Church, which is the next driveway south of us off Leslie Street. Note too, that neighbouring streets opposite the TBG off Lawrence–such as Banbury and Blaine and their side streets-offer up to three–hour parking.

Give Me a Bee

Replete from loads of delicious Thanksgiving Day treats, I waddled back into the office on Tuesday, remembering not to eat a banana that morning nor put on any scented products or hair gel. The reason? It was time for another hive check, and bees are more prone to sting if you eat bananas and, well, smell. I was on duty with Anna-Liza Badaloo, and the two of us were coached by the ever-patient Cathy Kozma and Mylee Nordin from the Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative, as we fired up the smoker and checked the frames one by one to see how our honeybees were doing. Last month, the first-ever harvest of our two hives yielded between 60 and 70 pounds of TBG honey, so the hives are now smaller. Our bees are thriving, though honey production has decreased and we may have to top up the food source before we wrap up the hives next month for the winter. It’s been a marvelous learning experience and one I’m really glad I took on.

Things That Make Me Happy

The wonderful warm weather! This weekend, I was out in the garden whenever possible, puttering among my plants and putting away the umbrellas and some of the furniture–jobs I hate to do when it’s cold and windy outside. I fed the back garden with plenty of compost and cut back some mildewed phlox (disposing of the detritus in the garbage–a good plan for anything that’s diseased).

Around this time of year, the perennial debate always rages: cut back, or leave until the spring? I like to leave plants with sturdy stems and nice seed heads, which provide winter interest and food for birds, but I cut back anything diseased, floppy or with leaves that go slimy.

Right now, I’m marveling at some of the “repeat performers” that are just going into flower:

Iris ‘Immortality’ is back in bloom in the Beryl Ivey knot garden here at the TBG, stopping many people in their tracks. An iris that blooms in the fall? You betcha. Paul had some of this gorgeous iris available at last spring’s plant sale, but I missed my chance. It made a beautiful show in spring, and look at it now. Darn! It’s definitely on my list for next year.

My Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ is just coming into its second flush of bloom, too. After blooming its heart out early in the season, it went dormant during high summer, though its gorgeous foliage stayed. My plant is now so large it’s too big to bring indoors for the winter. If you have the same problem, Paul suggests taking cuttings and starting new plants.

And please don’t tell this defiant canna in the Westfield Terrace that it’s October–it really doesn’t care. Gotta love its spirit!

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Aldona Satterthwaite about the author: Aldona Satterthwaite

Aldona Satterthwaite started gardening as a child and has never stopped. Until recently, she was the executive director of Toronto Botanical Garden. Previously, Aldona was editor-in-chief of Canadian Gardening magazine, which during her eight-year tenure was twice named Magazine of the Year (large circulation category) by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors. In 2007, she was co-named Editor of the Year. Aldona, who’s a Master Gardener, completed her journalism studies at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now Westminster University) in London, England and studied landscape architecture at Ryerson University. She’s enjoyed a varied and successful writing and editing career that has spanned magazines, advertising and the museum world, and has included stints as Director of Writing Services at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and as manager of creative services at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

TORONTO BOTANICAL GARDEN, 777 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto, ON CANADA | 416-397-1341 | info@torontobotanicalgarden.ca