City Hall Roof Garden Cools it Down

Ornamental catnip, loved by bees, blooming on Toronto City Hall green roof.

Ornamental catnip, loved by bees, blooming on Toronto City Hall green roof.

While the goings-on at City Hall get heated in the summer of 2013, the plants growing on the vast roof garden are keeping it cool overhead.  Toronto City Hall’s roof garden has been in place since 2010 and it really is worth a trip up that curved, modernist ramp when you’re in the area. It’s the only way to see it, and what a pleasant surprise it is.

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Eco-Lawn Seed: Let the Seeding Begin!

eco lawn grass

Eco-Lawn isn’t your ordinary thirsty, gas-guzzling lawn.

The whirlwind of spring has begun. And it’s the ideal time to seed my big green bag of Eco-Lawn grass seed! Eco-Lawn germinates best when temperatures are 55-70 degrees F, which makes late April and early May—right now—the perfect time. Eco Lawn and any other grass seed won’t germinate during the very hot summer. Grass likes it cool.

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Canadian Organic Growers Conference: Feb 2013

Cornfields are controversial when it comes to organic growing, with GM and “Roundup Ready” seeds playing havoc with nature.

You might want to mark your calendars for this conference coming up February 16th, run by the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Organic Growers organization. This organization (COG) is a leader in sharing information between farmers, home gardeners and anyone interested the benefits of growing food organically, and sustainably.

COG’s membership is diverse and includes farmers, gardeners, processors, retailers, educators, policy-makers, and consumers. Not all COG members run certified organic operations, but they share a vision for a sustainable bioregionally-based organic food system. Our members believe that organic food production is the best choice for the health of consumers and producers, for the protection and enhancement of the environment, and for the sustainability of the food production system. In fact we believe that the survival of our country and even of the planet depends on it.

COG spreads the word about the benefits of organic through events, workshops, conferences and publications. Their quarterly magazine  has been running for more than 30 years, and is chock-full of info. A donation to the organization will get you an e-subscription, while a hard copy version is available for $18 plus HST. To spread their message of sustainable, organic growing, they also have an online lending library.

The COG Toronto Chapter is holding their one-day consumer conference on February 16th. Keynote speakers include Gilles-Eric Seralini, who will speak on the effects GM corn, glyphosate (Roundup herbicide), and safety issues of genetic food engineering. and Documentary film maker, Deborah Koons Garcia,  whose most recent film is Symphony of the Soil, which I can’t wait to see. From their website:

Hear about GMOs the smoking gun, the real story behind chicken and egg production, a first-hand account of organic food production in China, a pediatrician speaks out, what are the meals that heal, the organic farmer’s perspective, what is the future of organic, and more.

A $65 ticket to the conference includes an organic lunch. Sounds like a deal. (after Feb. 5, $85); COG members $55 . More info and to register:

Trees Are The Lungs of The Earth, and Houseplants Aren’t Too Shabby Either

Trees keep us and the planet healthy, giving us oxygen and cleaning the air.

A nail in my car tire has me sitting in the waiting room at a local garage, (cough-Canadian Tire-cough) right next to a magnificent eight foot ficus tree in a pot by the floor-to-ceiling window. It’s attractive. It’s green. And it’s plastic. Of course.

Sadly, they missed an opportunity to make the waiting room air quality a little more healthy, a little more oxygenated. This environment sure could use it, the proof being that most Canadians could probably identify that familiar Canadian Tire smell—the off-gassing from a profusion of plasticky items.

All trees and houseplants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. It’s the miracle of Earth, the exchange that made life possible on our planet. Let’s have more of it everywhere, please. The amount of plate glass windows going to waste all over the country makes me weep.

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Stars of the August Garden: Buddleia & Rose of Sharon

Monarch butterfly on a Butterfly Bush Flower

Monarch butterfly on a Butterfly Bush Flower

In summer’s final act, we have to appreciate the stalwart and sturdy plants that faithfully bring August to full bloom, especially after the deadly drought we had this summer. Two of the best are the aptly named Butterfly Bush, Buddleia, and the Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus. Right now they are covered in bees and butterflies, and splashing colour and lush blossoms to gardens all over the city.

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