Do we cut down too many trees? I don’t mean dead, dying or diseased trees, but trees that just “get in our way,” whether “our way” is big developer coming in and building condos, city removal, or homeowner removal. Lately I’ve been noticing that Toronto is not as tree-lined as it used to be back in the 1970s when I could see trees forever to the lake (and the lake too) from my apartment in mid-Toronto. Newspaper articles have been written that Toronto is too much concrete. My walks through different city areas prove this. Don’t get me wrong – there are still many trees in parks and ravines, but downtown Toronto has turned into concrete towered city.
Back even further – in the 1950s and 1960s, my parents did their bit for trees. They got a little maple from the city and it was planted on the front lawn. On their own, my parents planted a snowball tree in back and lots of shrubs – back and front and of course, mother’s rose bushes. We kids used to hide under the big snowball tree; its branches hung so low nobody could find us there. No trees big enough to swing from. I did that up at my godmother’s farm. My uncle had set up a swing – heavy rope holding a wooden seat – for my cousins to swing on. One of my favourite spots. I also did a lot of swinging from swings in the nearby park in east Toronto where my friends and I went to play. Guess I was a swinger of a different sort then. .
On the Only Child front, the two black walnut trees between my house and Tanya’s next door have already started shedding their leaves. Leaves are blowing and landing all over the place on her side of the fence and mine. The trees are actually on her property and there were once four. Two came down when they added the upper extension to their house.
These trees provide the shade I needed in the patio corner of my garden and arrived serendipitously (read probably squirrels “planting” the seeds) when I cried for shade and privacy. I even had landscapers giving me quotes on lattice dividers but somehow that seemed too ugly and expensive. I did plant the silver lace that now entwines throughout our mutual fence and it grew and grew.
In the front yard I had a landscaper (starting out on his own so cheaper rates) plant two juniper trees in 1999. I have one now – the other one died as a result of the city doing some digging to upgrade sewer pipes in 2000. That upset me at first, but looking at the size of the tree now (see photo at bottom), serendipity again stepped in and fixed the situation. I have some privacy but not a complete block of the big picture window in my living room. And I don’t have to rake any leaves here.
Serendipity has worked a lot in my garden, including the tall red-leaved plant that just grew in the corner by my veranda this year – I’ve had this plant elsewhere other years; it is an annual but the seeds spread.
The city of Toronto now has a bylaw regulating injury or removal of privately-owned large trees with diameters of 30 cm or more. I have seen on some front lawns – the city part –loose orange fencing around big old trees so some tree-cutting nut (any pun intended) doesn’t come along and whack them down. A bylaw also exists for protection of some trees in ravines. And there is a Toronto-based program called LEAF which promotes trees, gives out info about them, and has a tree-planting program for homeowners.
We’re coming along with the trees in Toronto – just don’t look downtown, especially all those condos by the waterfront.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes