Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…It’s Off to Work We Go!
Wildflower Group Cleaning up the Land
Not unlike Disney’s ‘Seven Dwarfs’ who like to ‘dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn till night’, the Wildflower Garden Group donned their gardening clothes and eagerly dug into the next step of the Wildflower Garden plans—preparing the soil. A few hours were spent with some help from the Urban Agriculture group (who also aided in the purchase of a permanent tool collection for the Eco-House garden) sorting through the tilled lot removing garbage, large rocks, and other debris that could hinder the growing of plants as well as digging up the grass the till had missed. The soil was found to be incredibly hard and so it was only the biggest rocks and clay that were removed in the hopes that the flowers and rain would be able to break up the smaller mounds of dirt. Slowly, the land is improving, and though we don’t have any Disney magic to instantly transform the lot into supple soil, we’re not far off with the generous donation of minerals from Noel Harding which will shortly be sprinkled over the land to aid growth. It was difficult work, and I think we all left with a greater respect for those working outdoors–those seven miners included.
Wildflower and Urban Agriculture Working Together to Clean the Land
Minerals to be Sprinkled Over the Land
To Till or not to Till, THAT is the Question!
Starting a project fresh and excited, our group couldn’t help but picture the final product that our toils would eventually bring us to: a beautiful, butterfly-filled wildflower garden in all its splendour—but it’s the word eventually that quickly put this image on hold. It wasn’t until we attended a lecture by Master Gardener Joan Jolin, that we realized the amount of TLC soil required before a single seed could even touch it. As we explained our intention to have the plot of land tilled to revive the patchy, hard (as soil in Windsor means clay) lot, Joan, horrified, responded with a, ‘BIG mistake.’ Ideal soil is obtained by covering untilled grass with 8-10 layers of wet newspaper covered with topsoil/compost, and leaving it for a year. Unfortunately, time was not something we had; thus, we were forced to use her next option: combating the army of weeds that would grow as a result of the tilling by placing a tarp over the earth. The lack of sunlight and heat generated kills the unwanted plants and leaves us with useable soil for gardening.
‘Digging up’ Information on Windsor’s Aboriginal Roots
In an attempt at uprooting almost forgotten knowledge on Windsor’s Aboriginal heritage, the Demonstration Wildflower Garden Group is researching the symbolism and medicinal purposes of the local plants used at one time by the Ojibway Tribe. The First Nations are the ideal versions of green living as they recognized and used every part of a plant without waste. By incorporating these traditional practices and plants into a modern wildflower garden it is the hope of the group that it will connect Windsor on a deeper level with its original roots while inspiring green living through the creation of wildflower gardens. Trips to Ojibway Park Nature Centre (top image) revealed a collection of wildflower seeds for sale which are native to the land along with information regarding proper conditions for the growing of each plant. As well, the University’s own Turtle Island yielded a vast library of Aboriginal knowledge (bottom two images).