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Nothing scary about Friday the 13th planting event

Student David Cen was one of the volunteers at a recent Evergreen planting event. More volunteers are needed for upcoming events. See story for details. (Photo by Aurora Herrera.)

by Aurora Herrera

Friday the 13 is not just for horror stories.

Although the date is reputed to be ripe for the weird and wacky, it seems that “Freaky Friday” also awakens the gardener in people. Last Friday, June 13, staff members, community members and students at the U of T Scarborough campus gathered outdoors to tend to the wildflower garden by the Student Centre.

“Today we are having a stewardship event,” said Tim Lang, sustainability coordinator at U of T Scarborough. “Basically we are taking care of the garden, weeding out anything that is preventing its growth and also transplanting plants that are not thriving in one area to another.” The garden was planted in May 2007 as part of a joint project between this campus and Evergreen, an environmental organization that builds the relationship between nature, culture and community in urban spaces. The aim was to green the entrance to the campus.

“U of T Scarborough is a very green campus, so we felt that enhancing the entrance with a wildflower garden was a good thing to do,” said Caitlin Langlois, stewardship coordinator at Evergreen.

Twenty-two species of shrubs, herbaceous flowers and grasses were put into the soil in May of last year. They included smooth wild rose, fragrant sumac, boneset, showy tick trefoil, new England aster, blue vervain, Canada wild rye, dense blazing star, butterfly milkweed, wild bergamot, foxglove beardtongue, brown-eyed susans, flowering spurge, smooth aster, spiderwort, nodding wild onion, bottle gentian, wild strawberries, bee balm, heath asters and blue-eyed grass. All of these species are native to the area.

Throughout the year, members help by conducting “seed shakes” where they literally shake the seeds from the plants so that they have a better chance at regeneration and growth.

“The seeds from plants are naturally blown off by the wind, like the tops off a dandelion, but we just help this process along by spreading the seeds, especially in the fall when the plants are dying,” Lang said.

Student volunteers David Cen and Xiaolin Zhuo were both involved in the actual planting of the garden in May of last year.

“Greening our campus is very important,” said Cen, a second-year management student who was involved last year when the garden was first planted. “I have a garden at home. I definitely prefer green over a concrete jungle.”

“It’s important to take care of what you plant,” said Zhuo, a second-year student majoring in math and sociology.

Shengfeng Xu, a first-year student in the mathematics and computer science program, volunteered because he wants to learn more about techniques on how to green the campus.

“We are all students here,” Xu said. “We all need to help out.”

Other events with Evergreen and U of T Scarborough are coming up.

Please see below.

Upcoming 2008 Restoration & Stewardship events

Help Evergreen and U of T Scarborough dig-in to keep our campus healthy and beautiful at these free and fun events. All are welcome. Refreshments and equipment will be provided. Please bring a reusable water bottle.

Foley Hall Bridge Garden Creation

What: Native wildflower, grass & shrub planting

When: Thursday, June 26th, 1:00 -3:00 pm

Meeting location: Foley Hall courtyard

Campus Tree Health Monitoring

What: Learn how to use Tree Health Surveys to monitor the health & survival of trees & shrubs planted on campus in 2007 & 2008

When: Thursday, July 24, 1:00 – 3:00 pm (please RSVP to attend)

Meeting location: H-Wing patio

Highland Creek Valley Tree Health Monitoring

What: Learn how to use Tree Health Surveys to monitor the health & survival of trees & shrubs planted in the Highland Creek Valley in 2006.

When: Wednesday, August 6, 1:00 – 3:00 pm (please RSVP to attend)

Meeting location: H-wing patio

Native Wildflower Garden Stewardship & Planting

What: Native wildflower & grass plantings in empty garden spaces, preparing the garden for fall (weeding, mulching, soil enrichment etc.)

When: Thursday, August 21, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Meeting location: Front entrance wildflower garden

Campus Clean Up

What: Litter & recycling clean-up around campus

When: Tuesday, September 9, 1:00 -3:00 pm

Meeting location: H-wing patio

Native Tree & Shrub Planting

What: Planting native trees & shrubs on campus

When: Thursday, October 2, 1:00 -3:00 pm

Meeting location: Lower campus parking lot

Please direct inquiries to Caitlin Langlois or (416) 596- 1495 x 292 or Tim Lang, at or (416) 208-2668.

Aurora Herrera is a fourth-year student in the journalism program offered by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. She is currently working as an intern in the office of marketing and communications.

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